Failure to complete community work assignments, pay fines, appear for sentencing or failure to appear at a jail to serve your sentence will all result in bench warrants for your arrest. They often occur as a result of bench warrants issued for "failure to appear" in court. The bad news is that if you are an habitual offender, your chances of being remanded by a court are high. The good news, however, is that there is much you can do to clear the bench warrant and avoid arrest. Learn how to clear your bench warrant quickly and effectively.
Things You'll Need
- Warrant information
- Bail bond money
- Motion form from the Court Clerk's office
After you receive a citation, the Superior Court of California in Bakersfield, Calif., will often send a "courtesy notice" to you that includes the date, time and address of your court appearance. If you fail to appear in court and you do not have the citation or the courtesy notice, call (661) 868-7207 for misdemeanor warrant information or (661) 868-5393 for felony warrants from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday to get a new court date. It is important to ask the court clerk for the amount of any fines or bail you must pay.
Before you set a new court date, ask the clerk where you can pay your bail or fines. Your bench warrant will remain active until a police agency arrests you, you appear in court or you post bail. Current punishment for a Failure To Appear violation may be a jail term of 6 months and/or a $1,000 fine. The court may also impose a $300 civil assessment against any defendant who fails to appear in court.
To recall a bench warrant, you must appear in court. To fully eliminate the risk of being remanded into custody however, you must first post bail in the amount of the warrant.
Before you go to the courtroom, go to the Criminal Division office counter with your ticket, bail, receipt, own recognizance agreement or appearance letter and be prepared to give the clerk your true name, the name you used when you were arrested if different, your birth date and your driver's license number.
If you do not have the money to post a bail bond or pay fines, your best option may be to ask the court clerk's office for a form allowing you to file a motion "to surrender and request from the court to release on your own recognizance." The motion you write needs to be filed with the court clerk's office at the appropriate court.
Additionally, with certain misdemeanors, local law enforcement agencies are willing to clear the warrant by issuing you a citation with a new court date. This is called the "cite and release process." Always ask the clerk for this option in any case.
If you have no prior history of failures to appear, judges in Kern County will not generally remand you if you appear voluntarily in court after the cite and release process.
Tips & Warnings
- Contacting an attorney to handle your case details is usually the best action you can take if you have an outstanding bench warrant. An attorney can get you a new court date, secure bail and fines with a bondsman, file a motion to keep you out of custody on your own recognizance, contact police to arrange for you to surrender yourself and keep police from eliciting statements that can be used against you. If you have failed to appear for court hearings in Kern County, call or go to the Clerk of the Superior Court of California in Bakersfield at 1415 Truxtun Avenue and begin the work you need to do to clear your warrant as soon as possible.
- Most motions require 10 days notice, although courts sometimes accept motions to surrender on shorter notice.
- Superior Court of California, County of Kern
- Konrad Moore, Attorney; Public Defender's Office, Bakersfield, Calif.
- Photo Credit Credit: Superior Court of California, County of Kern
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