What is a Bench Warrant?
A bench warrant is essentially a warrant that gives police permission to bring you to jail because you missed a court date (i.e., did not show up to the bench) or have something else to answer for. You may have a bench warrant issued if you miss a court date, fail to show up for jury duty, or fail to make your court-ordered child support payments. Although these are generally not crimes that you would have to go to jail for, a bench warrant is issued to ensure that you are placed in front of a judge and explain what went wrong and how you will make it right. A bench warrant is less serious than an arrest warrant but can still land you in jail for several days or until the courthouse is able to schedule a time for you to appear before a judge. If you are not aware of the bench warrant against you and are not prepared to be arrested, this can cause major issues for you, such as losing your job or not having childcare in place. For this reason, it is best to be proactive in identifying and resolving any outstanding bench warrants.
Identify Any Bench Warrants Against You
There are several ways that you can determine whether there are any bench warrants against you. First, you can check your mail. If a bench warrant is issued against you, you will receive a letter notifying you of that fact in the mail, along with instructions to follow to resolve the matter. If you lost or did not receive a letter, though, you can search Georgia’s online database to see whether any warrants have been issued. Another option is to call the county court clerk to inquire as to whether there are any outstanding warrants against you.
Resolving a Bench Warrant Without Going to Jail
To avoid spending any time in jail for a bench warrant, you must resolve the matter that led to the bench warrant being issued before you happen to have any interactions with the police. Since a bench warrant results in your name being added to a nationwide database, anything that requires your name to be run through the system by police will result in you being taken into custody. However, you can resolve the matter by contacting the police’s non-emergency number of the county clerk to express that you are aware that there is a bench warrant out for you and that you would like to resolve it. In most cases, they will give you an appointment time to come in and pay whatever fees are owed or otherwise resolve the issue.