New LAPD Chief Michael Moore is considering a plan that would allow thousands of homeless peoples to get rid of their old bench warrants as part of a larger effort to reform a system that, in all honesty, is broken.
Getting rid of all of these old bench warrants on homeless persons would help end a vicious cycle that starts with homeless persons not able to, let’s say, pay a fine. Then a bench warrant is issued when they don’t show up to court to pay the fine. Then, ultimately, they come into contact with law enforcement and are arrested on their outstanding warrant for failure to pay a fine. That means they go into custody (jail). get brought into the court, still can’t pay the fine, and are usually released right then and there since the underlying crime or violation is not serious at all.
This cycle explained above costs thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars. It will also ease the pressure on the court system, jails, and police stations which are overwhelmed with the hundreds of daily arrests for old warrants.
Many of the original crimes homeless persons are cited for are “quality of life” crimes – sleeping on sidewalk, public urination, low-level drug possession. These are usually simple fines, but can add up after court costs are imposed and become more of a problem once they go into warrant status.
Criminal bench warrants can be an issue for you if you haven’t shown up for court or have failed to return to court to show progress or completion of a court-ordered program. Typically, people are placed on probation following a conviction and, usually, must complete some type of obligation(s) to the court. This can range from something as minimal as pay a fine up to regular court appearances to show progress in a domestic violence program, alcohol program, and current restitution payments. If you fail to show up to one of those appearances, you are looking at, potentially, increased punishment for the probation violation, which can be greater than what you originally were obligated to do.
Furthermore, there is always the chance the judge wants to set bail if you have failed to show up for court or it has been a long time since your warrant was issued. A good criminal defense attorney can discuss with you ways in which to potentially avoid any bail and strategies to minimize any probation violation before even walking into court.
If you or someone you know has a bench warrant in Los Angeles county, Orange county, San Bernardino county or Ventura county, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as you can. Judges are happier when the least amount of time has elapsed since the warrant has been issued.
Attorney Ross Erlich handles all criminal bench warrants, including those for battery, dui, drug possession, petty theft, hit-and-run, assault, suspended license and domestic violence.