Maryland Bench Warrants Process
A bench warrant is very different from an arrest warrant. A bench warrant is issued by a judge because you failed to appear in court. You were given a date for court and you didn’t show up. So what happens? You failed to appear and then a bench warrant is requested by the state’s attorney. The judge can either set the amount for the bench warrant or say it needs to be set by a commissioner.
If you have a speeding ticket and you asked for a trial and you don’t show up, you’re not going to get a bench warrant. You’re going to get failure to appear and you deal with the MVA and the court about that. You pay it off. You hire an attorney to file a motion, to set up a new trial if you have a good reason. If that’s not the case then your driving license is suspended.
Now, if you have a drug charge, a possession charge, or another charge that is going to be prosecuted by state’s attorney, and you don’t show up, then that’s a big problem. If you don’t show up, then they’re going to issue a bench warrant. If there is a bench warrant out for you, typically a Sheriff will knock on your door to arrest you.
A Bench Warrant Doesn’t Always Mean Jail
A bench warrant may not result in jail if someone hires an attorney. If you turn yourself in, then it is always an option. If you find out you have a bench warrant, turn yourself in but hire an attorney first. If you turn yourself in without one, then you’ll be in front of a commissioner who may think that you’re a flight risk so they give you a bail or a bond which you have pay or go to jail. If they give you $5000 of bail and you can’t pay that you can get a bondsman to put up the bond. Now you’re only paying him $500 for it but he’s putting up the $5000. If you don’t show up to court not only have you violated that, but now you got someone who is going to want their money as well.
There are too many things that can go wrong when you don’t show up. The number one thing to do is show up to court because if you don’t, you’re going to have a warrant issued. Bottom-line, a warrant gives the police the authority to arrest you and then they transport you back to that jurisdiction.
How An Attorney Can Help
Actually, I don’t encourage my clients to turn themselves in at all. I’ll file a motion to squash the warrant which is a fancy way of me filing a motion to have the warrant set aside. At that point in time, it is set aside and you have the ability to set in your trial date. That’s something that can work. Now, once they set it aside, you have to appear. As the attorney, you are now guaranteeing that your client will be there. You’re basically putting yourself on the line for your client. It saves you time. It saves you money.