Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Bench Warrants
Q: How do "bench warrants" work? There has been a bench warrant out for the father of my child for almost two years now as he is behind in child support. As far as I can tell, the police/sheriff has only gone to his house ONE TIME, knocked on the door, and the person who answered said he wasn't there. In this case, the warrant is Hendricks County (IN).

A: A bench warrant is an order issued by a judge for the arrest or for the apprehension of an individual who has committed some contempt against the courts. When a person fails to appear in court as required, the judge may issue a bench warrant authorizing his/her arrest. A bench warrant orders the police to find the offender, arrest them, and bring them before the issuing judge to answer the charge of contempt.

A bench warrant is issued for the sole purpose of apprehending an individual who has violated an order or requirement of the court. In this way, a bench warrant is different from an arrest warrant. Both of which are ordered by a judge and both authorize the arrest of an individual for legal violations. Arrest warrants, however, are issued for the arrest of a person suspected of committing a crime, whereas a bench warrant is issued for violations of court obligations.

I know in St Joseph County, warrants are served and handled through the Warrants division of the SJCPD. I can't answer for out of this county, but if you know his location I would suggest to call the Hendricks County Sheriffs Dept and advise them of his location (home and work) if known, so he may be served.

Warrants of this type are for pickup and detention after a person has failed to show up for a court hearing, but do not authorize officers to boot in the door and perform a 'search warrant' style entry, so if they may have been told he was not there, and were not given permission to enter the residence, then that is all officers would likely have had authority to do.
posted by South Bend Police Department @ 3:24 PM  

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