Bench Warrants vs. Arrest Warrants in Florida

Do you suspect there is a warrant out for your arrest? If so, is it a bench warrant or a traditional arrest warrant, and do you know the difference? In this article, I explain warrants and what the differences are between bench warrants and arrest warrants.

A bench warrant is issued when you fail to show up in court when you’re supposed to. It could be because you failed to appear for a traffic ticket, or because you had a court hearing and you didn’t show because you never received the notice in the mail. Bench warrants are actually quite common and they are usually issued by a judge when someone fails to show for a scheduled court appearance.

Once a bench warrant is issued, the police treat it just like any other arrest warrant and they can arrest you anywhere at any time. For example, if you’re pulled over because your taillight is out, or because you were texting and driving and the officer pulls up your arrest warrant on his computer, you can be arrested on the spot.

How Standard Arrest Warrants Are Different

Standard arrest warrants come about differently than bench warrants. These are initiated by police officers, and they are the product of a criminal investigation. If a police officer or gathers enough evidence against someone and they have probable cause to believe a crime was committed, they’ll bring the evidence to a judge and ask the judge to issue an arrest warrant. If the judge is convinced, he or she will issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.

Police officers are not always required to have an arrest warrant to make an arrest. If a crime is committed in the presence of an officer, he or she can make an arrest on the spot. But alas, most crimes are not committed within an officer’s view. If a law enforcement officer is investigating a crime and the evidence leads them to a suspect, then the officer can ask the judge for an arrest warrant, assuming there is enough evidence demonstrating “probable cause.”

One reason law enforcement likes arrest warrants is they can arrest suspects when they least expect it. Usually, this means while they are in the comfort of their own homes. It is not uncommon for police to arrest people in the early morning hours when they're fast asleep.


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