What Is the Difference Between a Warrant and a Bench Warrant in Utah?

If there is a warrant out for your arrest, you are in a vulnerable position. You can be arrested at any time, which can have severe negative consequences for other aspects of your life. However, not all warrants are the same. In Utah, a bench warrant is slightly different from an arrest warrant. Continue reading for more information about the key distinctions between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant and how Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson can help you throughout the legal process.

The Difference Between Bench Warrants and Arrest Warrants in Utah

The major difference between bench warrants and arrest warrants is that a bench warrants is latent and issued when you don’t appear in court after already having been arrested, while an arrest warrant is issued so that police can apprehend you for a crime you committed.

Understanding Bench Warrants

Bench warrants have that name because they are issued from a judge’s bench. If you fail to show up in court to face a judge for a previous arrest or comply with a judicial order that had been issued previously, a judge will issue a bench warrant, which will give police authority to bring you into custody and bring you before a judge.

Bench warrants are typically issued following a grand jury indictment or if you fail to pay a court fine in a timely way, fail to appear in court (for either an arraignment, trial, sentencing, or other required appearance), or fail to adhere to conditions set in accordance with probation.

Unlike arrest warrants, a bench warrant does not allow police to come to your home or place of work and bring you into custody. Instead, they will bring you into custody if they arrest you for another reason, such as a DUI charge or traffic violation.

When you have been arrested on a bench warrant, you will be issued bail conditions or you will be kept in jail, depending on how likely it is that you will actually appear in court. If you are released after posting bail and then still fail to appear in court, you will be guilty of what is known as “bail-jumping” or “skipping bail.” This is either a third-degree felony or a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in six months to five years in jail.

Certain charges may expire, depending on the statutes surrounding the charge and how much probable cause police had for issuing the warrant. As long as the criminal charges remain within the statute of limitations, police are able to arrest you on a bench warrant. However, in some cases, it is possible for a court to renew or reissue a warrant at any time.

Understanding Arrest Warrants

In Utah and across the country, arrest warrants allow police to arrest you if they suspect that you have committed a crime. To be issued an arrest warrant, police must have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that it was committed by you.

However, there are certain circumstances that will allow police to arrest you without getting a warrant first. Police do not need a warrant to arrest you if they catch you drinking and driving. They also do not need a warrant to arrest you if they catch you in the process of committing a crime, or if they believe that you committed a crime and that there is a good chance that you will flee, destroy evidence, injure someone, or destroy property belonging to someone else.

Arrest Warrants Vs. Search Warrants

Police need warrants to arrest you in most cases, but they also need warrants to search you or your property. Search warrants operate differently than arrest warrants and bench warrants. In most cases, police can search your property if they have reasonable cause to believe that you have something illicit. A search warrant will address what type of property is being searched and what exactly police are searching for.

There are exceptions, though. Police are able to search your property without a warrant if they have already arrested you, if you give them consent to search your property, if the items are within plain sight, or if you are on probation. Police are also able to search your property if there are emergency circumstances, such as if police officers believe that there is an immediate threat to someone else’s safety or that the suspect is likely to flee before they can get a warrant.

What to Do If There Is a Warrant for Your Arrest in Utah

If you learn that there is a warrant out for your arrest, it is in your best interest to comply with the law. Cooperate with police and appear in court when requested.  It is also advisable to get an experienced arrest warrant attorney as soon as possible.

An arrest warrant attorney will be able to help you understand the charges against you and then determine the steps that are most advantageous to you. If you are curious about whether you have a bench warrant, you can use the online search function provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety or call the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification.

Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Have Been Arrested

If you have been arrested — or if you suspect that there is a warrant out for your arrest — get in touch with a Murray criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson as soon as possible to learn more about the next steps you should take. Darwin Overson will make sure that your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of facing the fewest possible consequences for your charge. You can get in touch to schedule a free consultation at any time. Call (801) 758-2287 today.