Bench Warrants

A warrant in New York gives law enforcement officers authority to arrest the individual named; it also instructs the arresting officer to bring the person before the court. While the requesting law enforcement officer usually seeks to immediately arrest the person, the warrant is also recorded in the state’s computer databases, which informs all law enforcement officers that an outstanding warrant exists.

A law enforcement agent (e.g. police officer, investigator, or District Attorney) presents evidence obtained during an investigation or an arrest to a judicial official, and asks for a warrant to be issued for the arrest of the suspect. A judge reviews the facts and decides if a warrant should be issued.

If the person named in the warrant is stopped by a police officer and if the police officer runs a check on the person’s license plate or driver’s license, they will usually learn of that outstanding warrant, and they will usually arrest that person and take them into custody for later transportation to the court that issued the warrant. Sometimes, a warrant for a misdemeanor crime will also list a bail or bond amount, which can be posted to obtain that person’s immediate release. In some states, however, rarely do courts put a cash bail bond amount on felony warrants. Thus, when a person is picked up on an outstanding felony warrant in those states, they cannot normally be released until they can be brought to court to see a judge or court commissioner, and have a bond set, which would either be a cash or a signature bond.


If a person (or sometimes a witness) fails to appear in court as directed by the citation or summons served on them, the court may issue a bench warrant for the person’s arrest. The local, state, and national authorities are notified of the issuance of this “bench warrant”, depending upon the circumstances of the case. A “bench warrant” effectively tells the authorities to bring the person named in the warrant to the courtroom of the judge issuing the warrant without delay. It also serves as a basis for an immediate arrest in most cases.


When a person is arrested, the arresting officer may search the person and the area immediately under the control or reach of that person, for several reasons: for evidence in connection with the purposes of the warrant; to protect themselves from injury or attack; to prevent the person from escaping; or to gather ‘fruits of the crime’, such as any instruments, articles, or other things that may have been used in the commission of a crime or serve as evidence in connection with the crime.

Remember to read our article on Police Interrogations as well.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested,  contact The Blanch Law Firm at (888) 8 BLANCH right away. They will give you a brief but professional “first-impression” analysis of your case and your situation, which will allow you to take an important first step in defending the case against you. Contact us to speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in New York today.

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