Tips for Dealing with Bench Warrant Cases in Los Angeles County Superior Court

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If you have a pending bench warrant in Los Angeles County Superior Court for a missed court date or other missed deadline on a misdemeanor case, you are in danger of sudden unexpected arrest.

To end this danger, you need to get the warrant “recalled” by the court and start working on the problem that caused the warrant in the first place. By taking voluntary action, most defendants with warrant problems can avoid the worst consequences. Here are some tips to help you get that done.

1. Get The Case Details from the Court.

To do anything on a criminal case, you have to get the details. You need the case number, the charges, the bail amount on the warrant (if any) and the address of the courthouse where the case is pending. This info is probably on your court paperwork, but my experience has shown it is better to just start from scratch by contacting the court for the info you need. Forget about searching your closet for lost papers.

West Los Angeles Courthouse. Purdue Ave. West of the 405

West Los Angeles Courthouse. Purdue Ave. West of the 405

There are many different courthouses in Los Angeles County, and you must deal with the case in the courthouse to which it is assigned. You can get the basic case info from any of the courthouses at the clerks office, but to take action, you need to go to the assigned courthouse.

Los Angeles County Superior Court does issue warrants in both the criminal and traffic court divisions. The traffic division cases and traffic case warrant info is available on line for free at the court’s web site under “Traffic Tickets” (Search by drivers license works well).

If you are looking for information on a Vehicle Code 40508(a) warrant, if is probably in the traffic court division. If you are looking for information on Penal Code 853.7 warrant from a Toll Violation, it will be in the Traffic Division, probably. Other “PC853.7 warrants”, as they are called, may be in the criminal division. When in doubt, check both divisions.

Unfortunately, Criminal Case information in Los Angeles is not available on line yet. There is no on line access to criminal case info at all, so you have to call or visit a real court clerk to get the details of a criminal division case.

If you are not sure which division you may have a warrant case in, you should contact both the criminal and the traffic divisions. These divisions do not communicate with each other well in LA.

The good news is that you can call or visit any Los Angeles courthouse criminal or traffic division court clerk’s office to get basic case info.

We have found that the best courthouse to call to get LA Criminal Court Case Details is the Airport Courthouse.

If you are having a hard time getting through to a court clerk on the phone, try a different courthouse to get your info. Use this List of LA Criminal Courthouses.

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2. Get a Free Attorney Case Review and Quote to Learn More About the Problem.

In most misdemeanor and traffic court warrant cases, a Defense Attorney can do nearly all of the hard court work for the defendant. Even if you think there is no way you can afford an Attorney to help you deal with a warrant case, there is no harm in getting a free review and quote.

3. Find Out What the Courthouse’s Procedure is for Getting the Warrant Case on the Court’s Schedule.

To get a misdemeanor or traffic court warrant recalled, generally a defendant must the case on the court’s schedule, make a court appearance and ask the judge to recall the warrant. Within the county of Los Angeles, each courthouse has a different procedure for getting a warrant case set on the court’s calendar. If you cannot hire a Defense Attorney to get a case on the schedule for you, you are going to have to figure out how it will work for your case.

In some courthouses, you may have to get there at 8 am and request a walk-in hearing on the warrant. In other courthouses, you may have to schedule the date in advance by filling out a “calendar request form”. And in others, you may have to get permission from the judge to add a warrant case to a court calendar before you get arrested.

To find out what out what procedure is used for getting warrant cases on calendar in the courthouse where your case is pending, you must either visit the courthouse or call to ask the court clerk in person at that specific courthouse.

Ask the court clerk: “how can I get this case on the court’s calendar for a warrant recall request.”

Getting a warrant case back on the court’s calendar is a sure way to handle a warrant problem correctly.

4. Once in Court, Convince the Judge You Understand the Warrant Is a Serious Problem, and Request “OR” Release & Recall of Warrant.

Some people with warrants will have to do jail time no matter what they do. But in the vast majority of misdemeanor warrant cases, and certainly traffic court warrants, the problem can be solved without arrest if the Defendant takes the right action. To avoid jail on a warrant, a defendant must get the judge to recall the warrant and release the defendant on his or her “own recognizance”. The best way to do this is to convince the judge that you understand the problem, the judge’s power to send a defendant to jail, and that you understand you need to take care of the problem correctly.

If the judge is convinced, he/she is more likely to recall the warrant without payment of bail, or actual jail time. The judge has the power to recall a misdemeanor warrant, release a defendant on his/her “Own Recognizance” (OR), and set the case back on it’s regular track. The judge can also order that bail be deposited with the court prior to the recall of a warrant.

To get the judge to recall a warrant and release the defendant “OR”, most Attorneys would use a request such as:

“The Defendant realizes this is a serious problem that can result in jail time. He/she is here to take care of it completely, and correctly. We request that the court recall the warrant, release the defendant on his/her own recognizance, and reset the case back on its normal track.”

Keep in mind the Judge is going to want a way to resolve the case and its warrant problem completely without wasting court resources. Help the judge do that, and your chances of success rise greatly. Have a plan, and give it to the judge.

If the warrant was issued because of a missed deadline to pay a fine, or complete a class, etc, it is best if the Defendant can give the judge details and specifics on when the Defendant can get into compliance with the court’s prior orders. If the warrant was issued for a failure to pay a fine, the judge will want to know exactly when the Defendant will pay if the warrant is recalled.

Of course, it is best if the Defendant can say: “I am able and ready to do it today.”

If you are not sure how to handle the case once in the court room, do not be afraid to ask the judge for time to hire and consult with an attorney. That is a common request. If you do not have the resources to hire an attorney, don’t be afraid to ask the judge to allow you to apply for the Public Defender’s services before you make any decisions.

Related Articles:

What is a Veh Code 40508a Warrant?
What is a PC 853.7 Warrant?

Questions? Leave a Reply below.


About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
This entry was posted in Arguing in Court, Defense Attorney Tactics, Los Angeles County, Warrant Information and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tips for Dealing with Bench Warrant Cases in Los Angeles County Superior Court

  1. Ryan Swenerton says:

    Hi, sorry but this comment is actually in response to “What Happens If You Get Into An Accident Without Auto Insurance in California? 2013 Update” (I can’t find that post up anymore).

    Last week a woman hit my car while parked (I wasn’t present) and did a reasonable amount of damage (I’m sure in excess of $500). There was a “Collision Information Card” left on the car by the SFPD with the lady’s contact info and AAA listed as her insurance. According to AAA the woman hasn’t had an active policy for years. My insurance hasn’t had any luck getting a response from the woman so for now it looks like I am on the hook for my deductible ($500).

    Do I need to notify the DMV of the accident? Should I contact the police and say the woman has no valid insurance? Any chance I’ll get my deductible paid back? Should I contact the woman myself?

    • Ryan,

      This is a good comment.

      Regardless of whether or not she had insurance, she has to pay for damage she caused to your car. It is the negligent driver that owes you money, not the insurance company.

      The insurance company might have a legal duty to “indemnify” her for losses she is required to pay – but that is of no concern to you.

      The insurance company, maybe, possible, can pay you, but your real target is ALWAYS THE NEGLIGENT PARTY (and sometimes their employer in a personal injury case) .

      Demand that she pay THE FULL VALUE OF ALL OF YOUR DAMAGES – not just the deductible. Because of the “collateral source rule” you are allowed to recover damages that your insurance company pays for because YOU HAD TO PAY FOR THAT INSURANCE COVERAGE, it was not free.

      Unless…..unless you sign over your right to recover to your own insurance company.

      My thought? sue the negligent driver for all the damages. Let her sort it out – before or after you garnish her disability income. Who cares? “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

      Actually, no don’t do that.

      Related Article:

      How to Suspend the Drivers License of a Negligent Drivers After judgement in Small Claims. : http://trafficcourtpros.com/blog/trying-to-collect-small-claims-judgement-for-auto-accident-in-ca-suspend-that-suckers-drivers-license/

      Check our Auto Accident category for more articles.

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