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The Difference Between a Bench Warrant and an Arrest Warrant


There are many different types of warrant a judge could issue in the state of New Jersey. However, only two of them have similar conclusions—both will lead to the arrest of an individual. Despite the same results, there is a significant difference between the two.

Difference Between an Arrest Warrant and a Bench Warrant

An arrest warrant is an order issued after a grand jury or law enforcement officials have enough probable cause to suspect you have committed a crime. A bench warrant, on the other hand, may be more common. It usually is issued when a person fails to appear for a court hearing or fails to answer a subpoena.

Probable cause means they have a reasonable belief you have done something illegal. The arrest warrant is a formal document given to law enforcement officers who order the arrest and detention of a person. Typically, you will not be notified of the arrest before it happens.

Before an arrest warrant can be issued, the police must thoroughly investigate the case. The warrant may also require a sworn statement from the district attorney, who will be prosecuting the case. If the investigation reveals probable cause, the police will take this information to a judge, who will request your arrest.

A bench warrant is an order for the immediate arrest of a person. It doesn’t require an extensive investigation beforehand; rather, it can be issued for any of the following reasons:

  • Failure to pay a fine
  • Failure to appear after an indictment on criminal charges when the court has a fixed place and date for an appearance by a defendant
  • Failure to appear in court after an attorney and judge personally order a defendant to appear
  • Failure to appear in court after citation by an officer
  • Failure to appear in court and show proof of enrollment, progress, or completion of community service or other alternative sentencing

If you are arrested on a bench warrant, a bail amount will have been set. You will likely remain in jail until you appear in court.

An arrest by either warrant will require the help of an experienced Bergen County criminal defense attorney who can appear in court on your behalf. The attorney at the Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC has many years of experience helping their clients defend their rights and freedoms and was a former prosecutor, so he understands how the opposition thinks. Let him use this insider knowledge to exploit the weaknesses of the prosecution and strengthen your case.

Contact us at (201) 574-7919 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.

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