How Long Do You Stay in Jail for a Bench Warrant in Nevada?

how long do you stay in jail for a bench warrant

Failing to appear for a scheduled court date can have serious consequences – namely, the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant is a court order that commands law enforcement to detain you and bring you before the judge to answer for the missed appearance.

One of the biggest concerns people have when picked up on a bench warrant is how long they may remain in jail. But the honest answer is – it depends.

If the charge is something relatively minor, like an unpaid traffic ticket, you may just spend a night or two in holding until you see the judge. But if it’s for a more serious criminal charge, that bench warrant could lead to an extended stay behind bars while your case gets sorted out.

As criminal defense attorneys, we see bench warrants issued all the time. The good news is, as long as you take quick action, there are ways to get that warrant lifted without unnecessary jail time in many cases. But avoiding court is only going to make the situation worse in the long run.

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is a court order issued by a judge demanding law enforcement to arrest someone and bring them before the court. In Nevada, judges typically issue bench warrants when a person fails to appear for a scheduled court date, violates terms of probation or parole, or disobeys other court orders.

Unlike an arrest warrant, which kicks off a criminal case based on probable cause of a crime, a bench warrant comes into play during an existing criminal proceeding. It’s the judge’s way of compelling a defendant’s appearance and obedience when they aren’t following proper legal procedures.

Common reasons judges issue bench warrants in Nevada include:

  • Failing to appear (FTA) for an arraignment, trial, sentencing, or other required court appearance
  • Failing to pay court-ordered fines, fees or restitution
  • Violating conditions of pre-trial release or probation
  • Being held in contempt of court for disobeying the judge’s instructions

So in essence, a bench warrant signals to authorities – this person isn’t complying with our orders, so detain them and bring them before the court to address the violation directly.

Potential Jail Time for Bench Warrants in Nevada

One of the biggest concerns our clients have when arrested on a bench warrant is, “How long am I going to sit in jail?” The answer depends on several key factors in your specific situation.

For relatively minor bench warrants, like failing to appear for a misdemeanor charge or missing a fine payment, you may only spend a day or two in custody until seeing the judge. However, Nevada judges tend to come down harder on defendants with a history of skipping court or patterns of non-compliance – especially when felony charges are involved.

In felony cases, it’s not uncommon for judges to order you held without bail until the underlying criminal matter is resolved, which could mean weeks or months behind bars awaiting trial. Even for misdemeanors, repeated FTAs or violations may prompt a longer jail stay as a punishment for contempt of court.

As you can see, prompt action is critical when arrested on a bench warrant. The longer you wait to resolve the violation, the harsher the consequences.

How Bench Warrants Impact Criminal Cases

Beyond potential jail time, having an outstanding bench warrant can seriously derail your pending criminal case in Nevada. Court proceedings get put on hold, which often works against you in the long run.

Once arrested, you may have to post bail again and could face stricter conditions for release, like heightened supervision or home confinement. Judges also tend to look unfavorably at defendants who have shown a willingness to disobey court orders in the past.

For non-citizens, a Nevada bench warrant marks a major red flag that could jeopardize immigration status or citizenship applications. And, of course, routine activities like traveling, gaining employment, or even applying for housing can become problematic with an active warrant.

Steps to Take if You’ve Been Arrested on a Bench Warrant

If you’re arrested by law enforcement due to an outstanding Nevada bench warrant, it’s important to remain calm and compliant. Resisting will only lead to additional charges and complications.

You have the right to be brought before a judge “without unnecessary delay, ” generally interpreted as within 48-72 hours of your detainment. At this initial hearing, the judge will review the circumstances of your case and the bench warrant violation.

Depending on factors like prior history and case severity, you may have the opportunity to post bail for release or have release conditions set, like supervised monitoring. In many misdemeanor cases, the judge may simply reinstate your previous bail and release terms if this is a first-time FTA.

However, in felony matters or with a pattern of missed court dates, the judge has leeway to order you held in custody. This makes having an experienced criminal defense lawyer advocating on your behalf critical in these hearings.

How to Clear a Bench Warrant in Nevada

The only way to officially resolve an outstanding Nevada bench warrant is through the court system, but the procedures can vary based on circumstances:

For Failure to Appear:

  • Your criminal defense attorney will file a Motion to Quash the Bench Warrant, explaining the reasons for your absence.
  • Hearings typically get scheduled within 2-5 days, during which you can still be arrested.
  • If the judge finds good cause, such as an unavoidable emergency, serious illness, accidental miscommunication, etc., they may quash/recall the warrant.
  • In some FTA cases with existing bail, the judge may “exonerate” the previous bail amount so you don’t have to pay it.

For Violation of Release Conditions:

  • The prosecutor may file a motion alleging violation of bail terms, probation rules, etc.
  • Your defense attorney can present evidence and mitigating circumstances at the violation hearing.
  • The judge then decides whether to revoke your release, modify conditions, or take other actions like quashing the warrant.

For Fines/Fees Owed:

  • Sometimes, paying the full outstanding balance ordered by the court will resolve the warrant.
  • The court may also allow you to set up a new payment plan and quash the warrant if you start making regular payments.

In hearings to recall Nevada bench warrants, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer provide evidence-based advocacy greatly improves your chances of a positive outcome. A skilled attorney can highlight mitigating factors, assert your rights, and negotiate for more favorable terms like reduced fines or an adjusted sentence.

Our Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers Help Resolve Bench Warrants

Working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is absolutely critical when facing Nevada bench warrants or allegations of failing to appear or violating court orders. We have extensive experience handling these matters for clients across the state.

Our legal team at Benjamin Durham Law Firm can:

  • Thoroughly evaluate your case background and circumstances
  • Advise you on the most strategic action plan for recalling the warrant
  • Gather evidence, witness testimony, and documentation to demonstrate good cause
  • File motions and advocate persuasively on your behalf at violation hearings
  • Negotiate for reasonable release conditions, bond amounts, and case resolutions
  • Ensure you are not being deprived of your legal rights and protections

Attempting to resolve a Nevada bench warrant is extremely risky and can spiral into much harsher consequences. With our firm’s expertise, you maximize the chances of quashing the warrant favorably while minimizing further disruptions and penalties.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have multiple outstanding warrants in Nevada?

While less than ideal, our attorneys can still seek to resolve multiple bench warrants through the proper legal channels. We’ll evaluate the details of each warrant individually and prioritize addressing the most serious matters first. Often, a comprehensive plea deal can be negotiated to clear all outstanding warrants simultaneously.

Will a bench warrant show up on background checks?

Yes, outstanding bench warrants in Nevada can appear on many types of background checks conducted by employers, landlords, lenders, and others. Whenever someone runs your name through the legal system, active warrants will be flagged as this information is public record. Taking care of the warrant promptly helps avoid these issues.

What’s the statute of limitations on bench warrants?

There is no statute of limitations – Nevada bench warrants remain active indefinitely until being formally recalled by the issuing judge. We’ve seen outstanding warrants lingering for years due to oversight, changes in address, and other lapses in communication.

Do bench warrants ever get cleared automatically?

No, unfortunately bench warrants in Nevada don’t just expire or disappear on their own over time. The defendant must take proper legal action through the court system to ask the judge to officially recall/quash the warrant. Avoiding this can have rippling negative effects down the road.

Author Bio

Benjamin Durham is the principal attorney and founder of Benjamin Durham Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm based in Las Vegas, NV. With over 20 years of experience in the legal field, he represents clients in both injury and criminal cases. Over his career, he has secured favorable verdicts for clients in both state and federal courts and successfully defended numerous high-profile prosecutions.

Ben’s exceptional legal skills and dedication to his clients have earned him recognition as a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also has been honored as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association, further solidifying his reputation as a top-notch legal practitioner.

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