Make no mistake. If you do not show up to court in New York on the date you are required to do so, a Bench Warrant will be issued. Simply put, a judge will issue an order for your immediate arrest and return to court. While the following is not to be construed as advice for your particular set of facts and you should consult with a New York criminal defense attorney in the event a Bench Warrant has been issued in your case, this blog entry will address potential crimes that you may encounter and means by which to minimize the damage you may have caused by not going to court as you were required.
Unfortunately, the law sees no difference between the person who fails to return to court because they forgot the return date, were out of the state or just didn’t feel like showing up. If your New York criminal defense lawyer is advised beforehand that you will not be present and he or she can corroborate the reason why (assuming it is legitimate), often times a Bench Warrant can be avoided. However, if you merely fail to show up as indicated above, it is highly likely a Bench Warrant will be issued for your arrest and return.
What a Bench Warrant Means to You
Depending on the nature of the offense, if you are stopped for a driving infraction and the police run your information and find a warrant, they could arrest you and take you into custody. If you are flying into the country, especially if you are not a citizen, the police can do the same. Certainly, some crimes are not ones where you will necessarily be extradited from one state to New York, but the issues surrounding a Bench Warrant will not go away until you rectify them. Compounding matters, if you live in the region where the Bench Warrant was issued, such as in New York City, the warrant squad could come looking for you.
Other concerns regarding Bench Warrants involve background checks. In the event a search is done on you and the record is public, your criminal history may reveal the underlying offense as well as the Bench Warrant. Certainly, an old Bench Warrant could have impacts on employment, certifications and licensing.
Additional Crimes Associated with Bench Warrants
In the event that you do not return to court with 30 days of the date you were required to do so, a Bench Warrant may be the least of your concerns. Depending on the nature of the offense, the prosecution has in its arsenal the ability to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony in addition to the original crime. Bail Jumping , pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 215.55, 215.56 and 215.57, is punishable by up to one year in jail, four years in prison or seven years in prison respectively.
Why You Should Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney
Regardless of whether or not you currently have a New York criminal defense lawyer or you retain new counsel, your attorney is of great importance in your case. First, he or she can reach out to the prosecution prior to you returning to court. Have you been charged with Bail Jumping as a new crime? Is the prosecutor going to ask for bail so you will be kept in jail? Can a plea (if that is what you want) be arranged so that the case can be resolved on the same day you return to court? Sometimes, as is the case with misdemeanors where the warrant is years old, a prosecutor may no longer be assigned. However, a criminal defense attorney can help expedite the process and try to resolve the case in court with the prosecutors who are present instead of the judge requiring you to return on a later date for the case to be re-assigned. Obviously, if you reside out of state, this may be important to you.
The above primer by no means is advice as to how you should handle your particular Bench Warrant, but a general primer to understand the issues surrounding New York Bench Warrants. For further information on the Arrest Process and Bench Warrants please review Saland Law PC’s website for New York Bench Warrants or review the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog at NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com and search for “Bench Warrants” as well as “Bail Jumping.” Additional information such as legal decisions, entries on various sections of the New York Penal Law and newsworthy cases can all be found at NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com.
Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal defense attorneys and criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients throughout the New York City region.