Bench Warrant – Solicitor Needed

A bench warrant is a Court order, and is, quite literally, a warrant issued directly from the Judge’s bench, providing for the immediate arrest of the person for whom the warrant relates.

When a person is due to appear before the Court, whether on foot of a summons or a charge sheet, and does not turn up to Court, a Judge has the power to issue a warrant for the arrest of that person and their production before the Court.

A number of cases have made it clear that a bench warrant not only provides the Gardaí with the power to arrest the named person; it actually commands them to make efforts to locate the person and carry out that arrest. This may include calling to your address, workplace, and on your family, friends & associates.

There are a number of serious consequences that can flow from the issue of a bench warrant:

• Having bench warrants in relation to the summons or charge sheets before the Court is an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing for those matters

• In Irish law, the taking of a bench warrant is in fact a separate criminal law offence in itself – carrying the risk of a criminal conviction, a fine and even a prison sentence of up to 12 months.

• Significantly, it is also an aggravating factor when it comes to considering whether the person should be granted bail in relation to the matters before the Court. Monies previously lodged (or promised) to the Court may be forfeited, while a bench warrant or history of bench warrants may see a person run the risk of being remanded in custody until such time as their case is finished.

The existence of a bench warrant is recorded by the Courts and, more importantly, is logged on the Garda database. It can therefore have reputational and financial consequences for any Accused.

In my 20 plus years in practice I have seen bench warrants issue in many types of case, even simple road traffic (penalty point) type cases.

A bench warrant does not expire, and all too often a failure to deal with a warrant will lead to far greater difficulties down the road.

If you receive a letter to say a bench warrant has issued for you, or become aware that this may be the case, legal advice needs to be taken urgently. It is vital that the right steps are taken as soon as possible.

If you have any questions arising out of this post, or wish to discuss this or any other matter relating to the criminal law, please contact Peter Connolly Solicitors using the contact details or the contact box at the foot of the page.

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