If the traffic ticket you recently received lists a court date, time and place, do not fail to appear at your scheduled hearing. FindLaw explains that if you do, not only will the judge likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest, he or he also likely will add a new failure to appear charge against you in addition to whatever charge(s) your ticket lists.
Similar to a regular arrest warrant, a bench warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest you on sight and take you to jail. The only difference between the two types of warrants is that a regular arrest warrant requires a showing of probable cause before the judge issues it. Conversely, the judge issues a bench warrant himself or herself from the bench, i.e., the desk where he or she sits in the courtroom.
Bench warrant consequences
A bench warrant goes into the court’s computer system. This, in turn, links to the computer systems of all police and sheriff’s departments in your area. In addition, your vehicle’s license tag number accompanies the bench warrant. The warrant only expires when officers find and arrest you.
While officers can come to your home or place of employment to arrest you, they seldom do so for bench warrants issued in connection with minor traffic tickets. The greater likelihood consists of officers pulling you over some day as you drive down the street or road.
Going to court
Once arrested, you must go before the judge who issued the bench warrant. He or she will read all charges against you and ask you how you plead. If you plead guilty, the judge will assess your penalties. These usually consist of fines and court costs for each charge. The judge will tell you when and where you must pay these.
If you plead not guilty, the judge will either proceed to your “trial” immediately or set a future court date for it.