In order to understand and fully exercise all of your rights as an American citizen, it is essential that you understand the different types of warrants used in the legal system. A warrant is a general term referring to a legal document authorizing the police to take certain actions. Warrants are most commonly issued in one of three ways: a bench warrant, arrest warrant, or VOP warrant.
A bench warrant is issued by a judge to provide authorities with the direct power to arrest you if you have missed a mandatory court date. County and circuit court judges can both issue bench warrants. Even if your court date was for something relatively insignificant like a speeding ticket, you will be treated as if your warrant was for an arrest. You will be brought to jail, forced to take a mugshot, required to post money for bail, and then brought to court to complete your unfinished business. That is, unless you ensure that a qualified attorney intervenes!
A bench warrant is not powerful enough to send the police searching for you and knocking on your door, but it enters your name into a statewide database. If you interact with the police for any reason, even for a fender bender that wasn’t your fault, the police will be alerted that you have a bench warrant and take you into custody. Many regular people are unaware that they even have a bench warrant; they aren’t criminals at all, but they will be treated like one without the right legal representation.
An arrest warrant is more serious than a bench warrant. A judge can issue an arrest warrant when presented with evidence that suggests somebody has committed a crime. Once an arrest warrant has been issued, the police are authorized to arrest, detain, and search the person named in the warrant. The Fourth Amendment requires that an arrest warrant show probable cause, be issued by a neutral magistrate, and be based on a credible police affidavit. An arrest warrant marks the beginning of the legal process in a criminal case.
A Violation of Probation (VOP) Warrant is another common type of warrant that is issued when there is evidence that somebody has violated the terms of his probation. Based on the severity of the crime that caused probation in the first place, a VOP warrant may or may not be entitled to bond. In Hillsborough County, a person on probation after a felony will have a no-bond warrant issued. It is possible to file a Motion for Surrender or Release on Recognizance in response to a VOP warrant, but only with the help of an attorney.
Maj Vasigh, Tampa’s premier criminal defense attorney, has years of experience handling bench, arrest, and VOP warrants for his clients. If you or a loved one is facing the uncertainty and fear caused by a warrant, call (813) 800-1111 to speak to Attorney Vasigh and learn more about how to avoid a mugshot, prevent further legal action, and minimize the damage of your outstanding warrant. The sooner you maintain Attorney Vasigh to help you navigate the legal system, the better he can help to protect you!