Difference Between Warrant and Bench Warrant

Warrant vs Bench Warrant

Have you ever wondered about the difference between warrant and bench warrant? The term Warrant is not unf amiliar to many of us. Fans of detective shows hear the word all the time, particularly at the point when the person suspected of the crime is arrested. Of course, warrants are issued in various forms such as arrest warrant, search warrant, or bench warrant. Those of us somewhat acquainted with the workings of a courtroom have a general idea of what constitutes a Bench Warrant. Many refer to it as an arrest warrant, but that is a misconception. It is more accurate to understand it as a type of arrest warrant and hence should not be confused with the idea of a general arrest warrant.

What is a Warrant?

As mentioned above, a Warrant can take any form. However, for the purpose of clarity and to better understand and distinguish with ease the difference between an arrest warrant and Bench Warrant, the term Warrant in this article means an arrest warrant. A Warrant is issued by the court for the purpose of arresting a person suspected of committing a crime. It must be kept in mind that such a Warrant is issued only if the Judge finds that there is probable cause to arrest the person in question. Probable cause simply means a reasonable amount of evidence implicating the suspect. The process of issuing a Warrant unfolds following a request from the police or law enforcement authorities.

A Warrant will typically contain the name of the accused and describe the particulars of the crime that he/she is charged with having committed. The effect of a Warrant is its authority to arrest and detain a person lawfully without obtaining that person’s prior permission. It is, therefore, a legal document , one that is preceded by an Affidavit submitted by the police, or in simpler terms, a sworn complaint. In many countries, the affidavit accompanies the Warrant at the time of arrest.

Difference Between Warrant and Bench Warrant

What is a Bench Warrant?

A Bench Warrant is a type of arrest warrant although the particulars contained in it differ from a Warrant. A Warrant is typically issued in a criminal case while a Bench Warrant is issued in both civil and criminal cases. Issued by the court, a Bench Warrant authorizes the arrest of a person who has either failed to appear in court after having been summoned on a particular date or failed to respond to a subpoena. Let’s simplify this a bit more. If you are called as a witness in a particular case and have been issued an order (subpoena or court order) to appear in court to give your testimony on a particular date, your failure to show up will result in a Bench Warrant being issued against you. In a criminal case, a Bench Warrant is issued when the accused or defendant does not appear in court for his/her trial and remains at large. Simply put, if you are ordered by the court (implying that you do not have the luxury to ignore or refuse), in whatever capacity , such as the defendant or witness, and you ignore that order, a Bench Warrant will be issued against you.

Keep in mind that unlike an arrest warrant, a Bench Warrant may not be effected at once. For example, if there is a Bench Warrant issued against you and you are stopped by the police for a traffic violation such as speeding, the officer will arrest you and bring you to court as per the authority of the Bench Warrant. In a case where the person was out on bail and failed to appear in court, the court will either refuse bail or set a higher amount of bail. A Bench Warrant is also issued for contempt of court or refusal to respond to jury duty.

What is the difference between Warrant and Bench Warrant?

• A Warrant is issued by the court following the request of the police to arrest a person suspected of committing a crime.

• A Bench Warrant is issued by the court directly, without a request from the police, when a person fails to respond to an earlier order issued by the court.

• Warrants are typically issued in criminal cases. Bench Warrants are issued in both civil and criminal cases.


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