What Is a Bench Warrant in Pennsylvania? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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What Is a Bench Warrant in Pennsylvania?

A bench warrant is a special form of warrant in the U.S.

The “bench” warrant is known by this name since it is officially issued by a judge who sits “on the bench” in the courtroom, according to information from the District of Columbia.

Find out what exactly a bench warrant is and what it means. Discover what will happen once the warrant is issued. Learn what the requirements and consequences are in case you receive a bench warrant in Pennsylvania and other states in the country.

Table of Contents

What is a Bench Warrant
What does it mean?
Reasons you may receive one
Bench warrant vs. arrest warrant
What happens after it is issued
What are the responsibilities
Contact us

What Is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is a type of legal document that authorizes the immediate on-site arrest of a person.

What Does a Bench Warrant Mean?

This official order is issued by a judge or district magistrate to individuals who are in contempt of court, according to the government website of the County of Cumberland in Pennsylvania.

A bench warrant can be issued for criminal matters and civil matters. It is typically assigned a bond amount once it is issued by the judge.

Reasons Why a Person May Receive a Bench Warrant

A person is considered in contempt of court when he or she intentionally violates an order given by a district magistrate or judge.

These are some of the potential reasons why an individual may receive a bench warrant:

Failure to attend a scheduled court hearing or trial

    Breach of probation terms
    Failure to give child support
    Neglect to pay a court-ordered fine
    Unwillingness to perform mandatory community service
    Performance of a non-criminal offense

What Is the Difference Between a Bench Warrant and an Arrest Warrant?

A bench warrant and an arrest warrant are similar to each other because both authorize law enforcement officers to arrest the person. That’s why it’s understandable if people without a legal background occasionally mistake one for the other.

However, there is a critical difference between the two types of warrants:

– A bench warrant is under the exclusive discretion of the judge from start to end.
– On the other hand, an arrest warrant is petitioned by a law enforcement officer. Once it is approved, the judge signs the warrant to authorize the officer to arrest the person.

Take note that law enforcement files, such as video evidence and photo evidence, are necessary as proof of probable cause for arrest warrants. The judge will only approve the arrest warrant if he or she is convinced that there is substantial evidence to merit an arrest.

What Happens After a Bench Warrant Is Issued?

Learn about the bench warrant process, requirements, and consequences.


The issuance of a Pennsylvania bench warrant involves several steps. This is the typical bench warrant process in Pennsylvania, based on the County of Cumberland government website:

– A bench warrant is issued by the judge or district magistrate.
– The bench warrant is sent to the county office.
– The county office records the warrant information in a minimum of three systems.
– The systems forward your information to all law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania. In certain cases where extradition has been approved, your information is sent to all law enforcement in the nation.
– The county office gathers information about your current location, home address, workplace, etc.


You are required to take action if you receive a bench warrant in Pennsylvania and other U.S. states. Follow these steps to remedy the situation:

– Accept and read the mail notification which contains information about the bench warrant which has been issued for your arrest.
– Contact the county office which sent you the letter.
– Make arrangements with the county office or plead your case with the judge. It is possible for you to do this on your own, but it’s better to seek the professional legal services of a trustworthy lawyer to handle the process.

There is a possibility that your bench warrant will be removed if you properly comply with the arrangements.


There are serious consequences that you may experience if you ignore the Pennsylvania bench warrant and fail to take the necessary steps:

– You could be taken into custody if your bench warrant remains active.
– You may possibly be detained at a cellblock.
– You will be released from custody if you or another person can pay the bond.
– You may be presented to a judge if you are not able to pay the bond. In this case, the judge may potentially do one of the following:
– The judge will release you and set a new court date.
– The judge will continue to keep you in custody or immediately hold a hearing.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Pennsylvania Bench Warrants Division?

The Bench Warrants Division of the local government has certain duties that they need to carry out. These include the following tasks:

– Processing the bench warrants that are issued by judges and district magistrates
– Locating and arresting fugitives from justice
– Apprehending fugitives so they can face the legal charges
– Conducting investigations of crimes that are related to employees of the county government and the properties owned or leased by the county.
– Providing fingerprinting services to residents and law school students for employment purposes

How Lawyers Can Assist You With the Bench Warrant Removal Process

A bench warrant could lead to your impending arrest, so you must take the necessary steps to resolve it. You must take immediate action to prevent or minimize its negative effects on your personal and professional life.

It is possible for you to deal with the judge or county office on your own. Nevertheless, it’s a smart idea for you to request the assistance of a lawyer near you who can handle the bench warrant removal process in a more professional, efficient way.

Our Pennsylvania legal team can explain the process and discuss the consequences you may encounter. They can prepare an argument to justify your absence and plead your case to the judge.

It’s challenging to face an outstanding bench warrant. However, it’s possible for you to successfully handle the bench warrant removal process with the help and guidance of an experienced, skilled law team.

Call our local law office in Pennsylvania near you today to consult with a legal team.