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New York Bench Warrant FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Bench Warrant? A Bench Warrant is an Arrest Warrant issued by a Judge for Failure to Appear in Court on your designated court date.
  2. Why Would I Get a Bench Warrant? Failing to appear on time on the date of your Court appearance may cause the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Failure to pay a fine or perform agreed-upon community service may also result in a bench warrant.
  3. If I have a Bench Warrant, will the police come looking for me? Not usually, but if they happen to come across in the course of doing their duty, and learn of the warrant you will be arrested and jailed until you are returned to court to face the Judge.
  4. How would the police know about a Bench Warrant issued by a judge? Every time a police officer asks for your ID, they are doing so to run a ‘Warrant Check’. Every arrest and bench warrant is maintained in a police database that allows the police to quickly and easily ascertain whether there is a warrant for your arrest.
  5. How else could a Bench Warrant affect me? Even the most basic criminal background checks will reveal a Bench Warrant. In fact, the reason most people voluntarily take care of their bench warrants is because they are informed by a potential employer of the fact that a bench warrant exists. Quite simply, you will not be hired for any position until you have taken care of (vacated) the bench warrant and provided proof of this to your employer.
  6. I failed to appear on a traffic violation in a different state and a bench warrant was issued. Do I have to return to the state to vacate the warrant? Not necessarily. Each state and county may have different regulations and court practices and these practices somewhat depend on the severity of the charges. In most New York courts, the judge will allow your criminal defense lawyer to vacate the bench warrant on your behalf if you are unable to physically appear on a minor infraction (misdemeanor or violation). Be advised that you will still need to make arrangements to resolve the underlying legal matter that precipitated the bench warrant in the first place.
  7. What types of lawyers handle bench warrants? Because there is an underlying criminal case that has not been resolved, the most logical choice would be to retain a criminal defense lawyer to handle both the bench warrant and the criminal case.
  8. What is involved with vacating a bench warrant? Typically, a lawyer will go to the clerk’s office and file a motion to vacate the bench warrant together with a motion to restore the case to the calendar.  Once the case is placed on the court’s calendar, the lawyer will orally move to vacate the warrant by providing the court with an explanation of why the defendant failed to appear on the original court date. If the judge accepts the explanation, the lawyer will proceed to enter a plea of not guilty on the underlying criminal charges or attempt to reach a resolution at that time.
  9. How long does it take to vacate a bench warrant? Often times, time is of the essence in vacating a bench warrant. Most job offers are contingent upon the background check and a bench warrant that is flagged can often result in a job offer being withdrawn. Under urgent circumstances, a criminal defense lawyer can vacate a bench warrant in as little as one day.
  10. How much does it cost to vacate a bench warrant? Lawyer fees can range from $1500 and up, depending on the urgency of the matter, plus additional fees to handle the underlying criminal charges.

If you have a job that’s being held up because of bench warrant or need to return to New York and are concerned about an outstanding bench warrant, please call the Law Offices of Jason Stern at 212-920-6950.

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