There are a number of reasons why a judge might order a bench warrant, though these various reasons often involve contempt of court or violation of court rules and procedures. This type of warrant is issued by a sitting judge, not requested by the police or issued based on probable cause. Once the warrant is issued, the police are entitled to apprehend and detain the person for whom the warrant was issued at any time.
A bench warrant is a type of arrest warrant issued by a sitting judge, which calls for the immediate apprehension of the individual for whom the warrant is issued. If the person is in the courtroom at the time the warrant is issued, for example, he or she will typically be taken into police custody immediately. For individuals who are not present when a bench warrant is issued, they may be apprehended at any time. This can commonly result in an individual being stopped on a routine moving violation, and then arrested due to a warrant found during a background check by the stopping officer.
The most common reason for a bench warrant being issued is contempt of court, though this may take a number of forms. Failure to appear in court is, perhaps, the most frequent type of contempt that can result in a warrant being issued. This can be either a criminal or civil hearing, and is often regardless of the person’s role in the hearing. Once someone is summoned to court, he or she must appear in court or risk contempt of court charges that may lead to a bench warrant being issued in his or her name.
Violation of courtroom rules and procedures can also result in a bench warrant being issued for a person. Someone who repeatedly speaks out of turn, who shows up late, or is disruptive may be charged with contempt of court and apprehended until a hearing. Even failure to stand as a judge enters a courtroom or leaving a courtroom before the hearing is adjourned can violate procedure enough for a judge to issue a bench warrant. This typically depends on the judge, however, and some judges may be more permissive of disruption or rule-breaking than others.