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What Qualifies as a Bench Warrant in New York City? Consequences

What Qualifies as a Bench Warrant in New York City? Consequences

A bench warrant in New York City is a court order issued by a judge directing law enforcement to arrest an individual and bring them before the court. Bench warrants are typically issued when a person fails to appear for a scheduled court date or violates a court order.

When Bench Warrants Are Issued

There are several situations in which a judge may issue a bench warrant in NYC:

  • Failure to appear in court: If you miss a scheduled court date, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This includes missing an arraignment, pretrial hearing, trial, sentencing hearing, probation meeting, etc.
  • Violation of bail terms: If you get released on bail but violate the terms, such as not showing up to court, committing another crime, etc., the judge can revoke your bail and issue a warrant.
  • Violation of a protection order: If you violate an order of protection, restraining order, or no contact order, you may face a warrant.
  • Failure to pay fines: If you do not pay court fines, fees, alimony, child support, etc., a civil warrant can be issued.
  • Failure to appear as a witness: Witnesses who fail to respond to a subpoena can face arrest warrants.
  • Probation violations: Violating probation terms like failing drug tests, not checking in with your probation officer, traveling without permission, etc. may lead to a warrant.

So in summary, missing court, violating bail terms, disobeying court orders, unpaid fines, and probation issues can all prompt a NYC judge to issue a bench warrant.

Being Taken Into Custody

If there is a warrant out for your arrest in New York City, the police can take you into custody anytime they come across you. For example:

  • If you are pulled over for a traffic stop, the officer may discover the warrant and arrest you.
  • Police may show up at your home or workplace to apprehend you if they are aware of a warrant.
  • You may be detained during any encounter with law enforcement where they run your name for outstanding warrants.

Once arrested on a bench warrant, you will be handcuffed, searched, and transported to the nearest precinct. Your belongings will be confiscated and you will be placed in a holding cell until seen by a judge or able to post bail, which typically occurs within 24 hours.

Seeing a Judge After Arrest

After being arrested on a New York bench warrant, you will be brought before a criminal court judge for an arraignment hearing. This is where formal charges will be read against you.

The judge will decide whether to:

  • Release you on your own recognizance (without bail)
  • Set bail terms for your release
  • Hold you in custody without bail

If released, the judge will order you to return to court on a specific date for further proceedings. Failure to appear would result in another warrant for your arrest.

Consequences of Bench Warrants

Beyond the immediate arrest and loss of freedom, bench warrants can bring additional legal penalties.

  • New criminal charges: Resisting arrest or providing false identification upon detainment may result in extra charges.
  • Bail revocation or denial: Those out on bail from a previous case may have bail revoked after a warrant arrest. The judge may also deny bail release in the new case.
  • Probation violations: An arrest warrant stemming from a probation violation likely means probation will be revoked. You may then have to serve jail or prison time for the original offense.
  • Fines and fees: You may face additional court fines and processing fees even if the warrant is resolved without serving jail time. Missing work while incarcerated can also result in wage losses.
  • Immigration issues: Bench warrants can trigger immigration detention and removal proceedings if you are not a U.S. citizen.
  • Employment issues: Some jobs require maintaining a clean criminal record without active warrants, so an arrest warrant threatens your employment.
  • Child custody issues: Family courts may revisit child custody arrangements if a parent is arrested on a warrant.
  • Public embarrassment: Arrest warrants are public record, so friends, family, employers can easily find out about your legal troubles.

Getting a Bench Warrant Lifted

To get a bench warrant lifted in New York City:

  • Voluntary Surrender: Hire a criminal defense lawyer and arrange to voluntarily surrender at the nearest precinct. You may be able to negotiate bail terms and bond conditions ahead of time.
  • Bail Hearing: If arrested, request a bail hearing and have your defense lawyer argue for your release in front of a judge. They can explain mitigating circumstances and present evidence you are not a flight risk.
  • Recall Motion: In some cases, your attorney can file a motion to convince the judge to recall or cancel the warrant if it was issued in error or you have good cause for missing court.
  • Bench Warrant Amnesty: Some New York City courts periodically offer bench warrant amnesty programs or warrant forgiveness events you can attend to resolve low-level warrants.

Acting quickly is important when facing an open warrant in NYC. Call a qualified criminal lawyer right away to start the process of lifting the warrant before you end up behind bars. They can also help mitigate consequences if you do get arrested.


I hope this overview on what qualifies for a bench warrant in NYC and the consequences helps provide more clarity. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything was explained and any concerns...

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After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

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