While both arrest warrants and bench warrants can lead to officers taking you into legal custody, both are issued under different conditions.

  • Arrest Warrants: An arrest warrant is usually a form signed by a judge to authorize law enforcement to go wherever they believe you may be found, whether it is at your place of employment, your child’s school, or your home, in the purpose of arresting you. An arrest warrant usually identifies the crime you are accused of and can even dictate how you may be arrested. An arrest warrant can be issued for your arrest if a grand jury returns an indictment after hearing allegations against you or if you miss a sentencing appearance.


  • Bench Warrants: Bench warrants are usually issued when you miss court and the attorney is unable to provide a valid excuse. A bench warrant authorizes an officer to arrest you whenever they locate you. Bench warrants are not easy to hide from since you can be arrested when an officer stops you because you were littering or made a traffic infraction. The officer runs your name through the system and it will bring up your outstanding warrants. The officer is then duty bound to arrest you. People usually try to hide from warrants by leaving the town, city, or even state that the warrant was issued in. However, it can still appear and you could be extradited back to where it was issued. Bench warrants will even show up in background checks when applying for housing or a job.