A bench warrant is an order by a judge for your arrest if you don’t show up to your court appearance. In essence, it is the judge (sitting on his/her bench) deciding that you have shown such contempt for the court that you should be arrested for it. But even if this happens, there are still things you can do to avoid further trouble.
Bench warrants are useful devices for the court because they give the person against whom the warrant was issued an incentive to do what the court wants. So let’s say you have been cited with reckless driving, and you are supposed to appear in court roughly thirty (30) days later. But instead of showing up at the predetermined time, you forget to go, or you have to go to work. Since you did not appear (or have an attorney appear on your behalf), the judge will issue the warrant for your arrest. Once the warrant is out there, you could be arrested at any time. The police may come to your residence, your place of work, or of course if you are pulled over for something entirely unrelated (like a speed limit infraction) the officer will undoubtedly run your driver’s license and see that there is a warrant for your arrest. At this point, you will be booked and jailed. The fines necessary to get you out are going to be very high, and then there is the matter of handling the underlying citation (reckless driving), which will be another fine on top of that.
If that does not sound like the best way to handle this kind of situation, then I would have to agree. A far better course of action would have been to hire an attorney right after you received the citation for reckless driving. An experienced attorney could have negotiated with the prosecutor to get the ticket reduced (or thrown out altogether, depending on the circumstances). Or if for whatever reason you failed to make an appearance at your court date, and a bench warrant was issued for your arrest, an criminal defense lawyer could have worked out a deal with the court to have the warrant pulled, get the underlying charge lessened, and got you on your way.
The St. Louis traffic ticket lawyers at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken specialize in making sure that your rights are protected, while getting you the best deal possible. Our St. Louis criminal defense attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about how the laws of Missouri work, what your range of options are, and how to do things in a timely and professional manner.