What Happens when a Bench Warrant is Issued?

Bench warrants are a court process determined and initiated when a judge orders law enforcement to arrest a person, or, in some cases, to seize property that has been involved in criminal activity.

Bench warrants differ from general arrest warrants in two ways. General arrest warrants are issued at the request of law enforcement when it believes a person has committed a crime. A person arrested on a general arrest warrant may post bail after the initial hearing, but the person arrested on a bench warrant is often denied bail and considered a flight risk.

Scope of a Bench Warrant

Bench warrants are issued by a judge for contempt of court, from an indictment or for a witness who has failed to obey a subpoena. Bench warrants can be issued in both criminal and civil cases.

Bench warrants also allow law enforcement to seize property. These seizures involve property (cars, houses, boats or business) that have been used to commit a crime or have been associated with criminal activity.


Bench warrants are initiated in court then executed by law enforcement. The arrested person is held without bail until the next court hearing.

Bench warrants are given a higher priority and urgency by law enforcement than general arrest warrants.

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