Failure to appear in court for a license violation will usually result in a warrant for your arrest (40508a Warrant).
On this page you will find:-
- The best way to handle a bench warrant or arrest warrant
- Los Angeles warrant search: how to check if you have a warrant
- The difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant
- Warrants and your drivers' license
- How you get a Failure to Appear Warrant - FTA 40508a
- The difference between Infractions and Misdemeanors
- Misdemeanors and jail-time
- Do you have a Probation Violation Warrant?
- Do you live out-of-state or out-of-town?
- Will I be arrested if I go to the courthouse with a bench warrant?
- Will I go to jail?
- We can go to court with you to protect you
The best way to handle a bench warrant or arrest warrant
Can I have a warrant without knowing?
Yes, a warrant can be issued without notification. If you have been cited for a misdemeanor and you do not go to court, the Judge or court will almost always issue a warrant for your arrest - and many times they do it without any notification at all. People usually find out about it the hard way, either by the police or a job background check.
The Law in California
VC 40508(a) - See: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH§ionNum=40508.
What's the difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant?
A Bench warrant is usually issued by a Judge to bring a non-appearing person to court after they have missed their court date. This normally happens when you are supposed to come to court and you miss your court date and the Judge basically issues a warrant for your arrest for your failure to appear. Bench warrants are normally only issued by a Judge if you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony and you do not appear in court on your scheduled court date.
If you fail to come court to handle your traffic ticket and one of the charges on your ticket is a misdemeanor such as driving on a suspended license (VC 14601.1), you risk having the judge issue a bench warrant for your arrest. (If you look on your ticket and the letter "M" is circled next to the violation that means you were ticketed for a misdemeanor.)
See also what is the difference between a misdemeanor and an infraction.
You can be handcuffed and taken to jail by the police
Bench Warrants can present problems for you if you are pulled over by the police and while checking your record they see a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant allows the police to handcuff you and take you to jail to hold you in jail until you are taken to see the Judge at the courthouse who issued the bench warrant for your arrest.
We can help with your bench warrant
If there is a bench warrant issued for your arrest please contact us immediately so that we can help you get this warrant recalled. We specialize in helping people with their bench warrants.
An arrest warrant is very similar to a bench warrant in that it can be issued by a Judge or obtained by the police. An arrest warrant is essentially an order to arrest a particular person and bring him or her before the issuing judge. Arrest warrants, just like bench warrants, allow the police to handcuff and take you to jail to be held until you are brought before the Judge.
How you get an arrest warrant after a failure to appear
Under California Vehicle Code section 40509.5(e) an arrest warrant cannot be issued for a violation of Vehicle Code Section 40508(a) Failure to Appear unless one of the following applies:-
- The underlying offense is a misdemeanor or felony
- The offense relates to an equipment violation, a towing or loading violation, or overweight or oversized violation
- The driver has no driver's license
- The driver has other pending failures to appear.
Do I have a warrant?
Two methods for checking whether you have a warrant in Los Angeles. The first method is the best.
1. Courthouse warrant search
The best way to check to see if you have a bench warrant or arrest warrant or Failure to Appear warrant in Los Angeles County is to go the courthouse listed on your traffic ticket and go to BOTH the traffic clerk window and the criminal clerk window and have them run your name and date of birth through a warrant search on the court computer.
Unfortunately, because of budget cutbacks, it is very difficult to speak to someone by phone at Los Angeles county courthouses to see if you have a warrant for your arrest. If you like you can call us at (310) 285-1516 to speak with a Los Angeles Traffic Attorney and we can try to help you find out if there is a warrant for your arrest in a Los Angeles county courthouse.
2. Los Angeles Superior Court website - warrant search
Sometimes a search on the Los Angeles Superior court website will show if you have a traffic-related arrest warrant or bench warrant out of Los Angeles County. Go to the Los Angeles Superior Court website:-
- Select "Search by Drivers License" and enter your California driver's license number and date of birth. The court website will pull up the status of all of your traffic tickets in Los Angeles County.
Status of your ticket. If the status of your ticket says bench warrant or arrest warrant, that means you got a traffic ticket with a misdemeanor violation (most likely for driving on a suspended license VC 14601.1 or for driving without a California License VC 12500 or driving on an expired California driver's license VC 12500) and you did not go to court.
Driving on a Suspended License (VC 14601.1) is a misdemeanor charge and a serious violation because it can put 2 points on your license which can really affect your insurance rates. If you have prior Driving on a suspended license convictions you may face increased punishment.
Will a warrant show up at the DMV?
It is important to check the COURT computer!
If you :-
- Get a ticket from a police officer for a misdemeanor such as :-- driving on a suspended license (vehicle code section 14601.1)- or driving without a California license (vehicle code section 12500)- or driving on an expired license (vehicle code section 12500)
- AND you do not appear in court ...
- then the judge has the power to issue a warrant for your arrest. This is called a bench warrant. A warrant is an order from the Judge to the police to arrest you and bring you to court for your failure to appear in court.
If you get a traffic ticket for a misdemeanor and you do not show up in court, a warrant for your arrest will be most likely be issued by the court. Under the law, misdemeanor punishment can include jail and that is why a failure to appear for a license violation - FTA Vehicle Code 40508a - will usually result in a warrant for your arrest.
Most traffic tickets you get are considered "infractions" which means you cannot go to jail for these violations. Infractions are not punishable by imprisonment in jail. The worst that can happen to you with an infraction is a fine and the DMV suspends your license for failing to appear or the DMV puts a hold on your license.
However if you get a ticket and the police officer circled M next to the violation written on your ticket, that means you were cited for a misdemeanor. Under the law, misdemeanor punishment can include jail.
The most common misdemeanor violations for traffic tickets are for:-
- Driving on a suspended license because you have a failure to appear on your driver's license, (VC 14601.1)
- Living and driving in California but not having a California license (VC 12500)
- Having an expired California driver's license (VC 12500)
Failure to go to court when you get a ticket for a misdemeanor violation will result in either a bench warrant or an arrest warrant.
Read more about Infractions vs Misdemeanors
Avoid jail - clear up your warrant as fast as possible
Under the law, misdemeanor punishment can include jail and that is why if you fail to appear in court (FTA), a bench warrant or arrest warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Arrest Warrant or Bench Warrant out of state traffic ticket
If you live out-of-state (not in California), or out-of-town (a long distance from Los Angeles County), we can usually help you clear up your arrest warrant or bench warrant for license violations without you having to come to court in Los Angeles.
Probation violation warrant
Call us immediately for a free legal consultation with an attorney as we have an excellent track record in obtaining alternatives to Los Angeles County Jail for probation violations (310) 285-1516.
Warrant Attorney - we can help
Call us for a free legal consultation with a Los Angeles Warrant Attorney to discuss your options (310) 285-1516.