What Is A PC 853.7 Warrant? How Fast Can It Be Cleared?


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PC 853.7 Warrants are court orders to a police agency, usually a county Sheriff’s office, to take a person into custody and bring that person to court. Their full name is “Penal Code section 853.7 bench warrants”. Here is a breakdown of how they work.

Most bench warrants are issued because a person misses a court date after signing a promise to appear (traffic ticket or citation).

Whether issued under California Vehicle Code 40508a or Penal Code sec 853.7, a bench warrant means the court wants to see you, NOW! Technically, a person with a pending warrant is a fugitive from justice.

Other reasons a court may issue a bench warrant would include a failure to pay child support, for a new criminal charge, because a probation deadline was missed, or failure to pay a fine.

In the traffic court arena, and misdemeanor criminal court, when a person misses a court date, the court will generally issue a bench warrant to force the Defendant back to court.

In California, for most vehicle related violations, if a person misses a court date, the court will issue a warrant under authority of California Vehicle Code section 40508a.


These common failure to appear warrants are called “40508a warrants”, and Veh Code sec 40508a is the statute (or law) that allows the court to issue a warrant after a missed court date on a signed “promise to appear” (traffic ticket).

“PC 853.7″ refers to Penal Code section 853.7, which makes it a misdemeanor for a person to fail to appear in court on signed promise to appear.

A Penal Code 853.7 Warrant, or “853.7 warrant”, is very similar to a Traffic Court Vehicle Code 40508a warrant, but not as common. The authority for a warrant on these cases comes from the Penal Code, rather than the Vehicle Code. They are generally issued for a missed court date on a citation that does not relate to the Vehicle Code.

A common cause of a Penal Code 853.7 warrant is a missed court date on citation alleging a failure to pay BART or train fare, or being drunk in public under Penal Code 647(f) for example.

motocopIn reality, it does not matter what kind of misdemeanor warrant was issued. VC 40508a warrant or PC 853.7 warrant? Who cares? Once you get into court, they are much the same.

Penal Code section 853.7 warrants can show up on criminal history background checks because they are misdemeanor crimes. Vehicle Code section 40508a warrants can show up on a driver’s history report at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and on criminal background checks. However, VC 40508a warrants do not create negligent driver points” like moving violations.

Aside from these minor differences, the consequences and solutions are the same. Both types of warrants can lead to sudden arrest or loss of a job.

The more important question is WHY was it issued? Missed court date? Failure to pay fine? Failure to show up for Sheriff’s Work Program? Etc.

And very importantly: “How do I get a bench warrant cleared as soon as possible?”

Usually, misdemeanor bench warrants require a court appearance to resolve. However, for warrants in most misdemeanor cases, an Attorney hired by the Defendant before they get caught may be able to get a warrant recalled and a case back on track without the client having to go to court, pay bail or go to jail.

Even in many probation violation warrant cases, a Criminal Defense Attorney hired by the Defendant can appear in court for the Defendant before they get arrested.

Many Penal Code 853.7 warrants can be cleared within days with the right action.

If you have a bench or arrest warrant, request a Free Attorney Case Review to see if you have the type of warrant that can be cleared fast, without you having to go to court.

Maybe an attorney can get your warrant recalled in 2 days by fax without you having to go to court? Sometimes it is possible.

Questions? Post a Reply. We try to answer them all.


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 Going to Court, Los Angeles County, penal code, Petty Theft, Probation Violations, Warrant Information, Warrant Searches and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to What Is A PC 853.7 Warrant? How Fast Can It Be Cleared?

  1. Jeffrey C says:

    So I got a ticket for smoking marijuana and I went to my court date and they gave me a $100 fine and to take a one day drug class and a date to go back to the court with the money and proof I took the class, I never took the class and never paid the $100 because I didnt have a job at the time and no money, they issued a warrant for not showing back up with the $100 and proof that I took the class, what am I looking at with the warrant? it says 853.7/21 warrant . thanks

    • Jeffrey,

      Nice! Finally a weed question.

      Bad! Crap. What happened. This must be a really old case – because it sounds like they charged you with a misdemeanor instead of an infraction.

      Currently in CA, simple possession of less than 1z with no intent to sell or distribute, not in your car, no minors around, no where near a school, away from a drug zone, not in a National Park .. . . .etc might be an infraction.

      A penal Code section 853.7 failure to appear problem has a 1 year county jail max. But if you get into court voluntarily, you can probably avoid the worst consequences.

      The very best way to handle a case like this is to hire an Attorney today to get into court for you on Monday. The attorney (if it were me) would wake up before dawn, put on a suit and tie, and drive to court for you (through the LA Traffic at 8 am). How do I know its LA? I dont, but it is.

      Then the attorney would get the case on the court’s calendar for a walk in warrant recall request (assuming the court has space in the calendar). Then once in court – try to talk the judge into resetting the case for something and recalling the warrant without jail, payment of bail, and without the defendant present based upon the representation that the defendant has hired defense counsel for the entire case and is 100% committed to resolving the case correctly, now ASAP.

      It might work just like that – and then there would be some kind of date to try to figure out how to dispose of the case for good.

      I have had cases with these facts before. Generally – once you get there and make such a request – some judges will just dismiss the case.

      But it may not work. In witch case, witch? Which?wich? which witch is witch?

      If it does not work, I would ask the judge for an indicated sentence. The judge might say – “bring him in and we will see” or “bring him in and we will take care of it” or “bring him in and we will give him flowers and set him free!!!” or something like that.

      Then we would set a date to return to court with you present.

      Once in court with you – if it were my case – I might say something like: “Your honor, I am here again. I did exactly what you told me to do. I got the defendant here in person right away. He is here, and is 100% committed to taking care of this correctly. He knows this is a big problem. He came here voluntarily. He has demonstrated a willingness to do what ever it case to resolve this case correctly. And we ask that the court recall the warrant on that basis, release the defendant OR, and set a date on this case for >>>>>>>>_______________[insert some idea like probation modification request or what ever is appropriate based upon the courts file]_____>>>>>>.

      Usually that works.

      But sometimes, the client has to go to jail.



  2. Shie says:

    Failure to appear in your warrant will cause you criminal cases. In addition, it will surely affect your background check information as you will not resolve your case.

    • Shie,

      I want to be rude to you and say “Thank you for the completely useless comment that I wasted my free pro bono volunteer time on.” But then I realized, although poorly written, you comment shows basic understanding.

      And for that, you win 6,000 free RADs of Gamma radiation from Fukishima. It’s in your milk. Enjoy.

  3. Lisa says:

    I got tagged with a failure to appear 6 years ago. (threw a cigarette out the window, and hit a cop car with it) I have lived out of state since this happened. California revoked my license but I do have a valid one in the state i currently live in. How on earth do I find out whats going on with this and should I even try to straighten this out? I’m worried I will end up losing my license in my current state if I tell Cali where I am these days.

    • Lisa,

      A CA Drivers license suspension will follow you to other states.

      Call CA DMV driver safety office, find out what courthouses you have drivers license holds in. Then, hire an attorney to take care of those cases for you.

      That’s my advice. Or . . . call DMV now, get info, make plans to be at the courthouse yourself tomorrow am at 8:00.

    • Michael says:

      If the citation was issued in California, as you stated, and it is in fact, over five tears old, call California DMV Mandatory action Unit, in Sacramento, and asked for the ticket to be “PURGED.” They will initiate this action with results in approx 6 weeks.

      • Michael,

        DMV does not “purge” cases with warrants or Vehicle Code 40509.5 suspensions. These problems are caused by orders of the the court, not by the DMV. And even if a person did get a warrant “purged” from a DMV record, or a failure to appear citation purged from a DMV record, it would have no effect at all on the pending court case that caused the problem.

  4. Alvina says:

    Back in the 1990s I had 6 minor traffic warrents. I left California and stayed in New York for over 7 years, until they all dropped off, then came back to CA. Sometimes they do fall off.

    • Alvina, Thank you for the comment, but I dont believe you. Send me proof and I will happily publish it right here. Dont confuse DMV records with court records. Just because DMV records may no longer show you had a violation, it does not mean that your court cases magically disappeared. Especially if you had a real warrant issues for a failure to appear. No, I dont believe it. BUt I may be wrong. I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. Anyway, if this were a sickness and I were a doctor, I would diagnose you with: Chronic Denial brought on by confusion between DMV records and court records.

      I guess actually that it is possible that a court would just throw some failure to appear cases away when they were moving from their paper files to Paradox Data bases and then to Oracle Databases, and then back to Paradox and paper, it’s totally possible some court clerks, or programming geeks just some how lost a few CDs worth of data and didnt care. Sure it’s possible.

      I have seen a few rare warrants with bail set as low as $500. Maybe the court could just give up. More likely that you did not have a real warrant. Or that you are in denial now. Maybe someone else paid if off for you?

      Lets do this test – Maybe you are right – send me the case numbers and the courthouse names, and I will call the court for you and see if I can get a status on the cases and see if: 1) there really was a warrant: 2) what happened to the case 3) what the bail was; 4) whether or not it is active; 5) whether or not a court appearance is necessary, etc.

      That is how you check for sure.

      If you are right, I’ll send you a free Muck the Folice Tee Shirt.

  5. zavion says:

    how long do these warrants last for is there a statute of limitations on them

    • There is no statute of limitations on warrants. They last forever. A “statute of limitations” only gives the prosecutor a deadline to charge a defendant. And if you have a warrant, they have already charged you. The statute of limitations is not a deadline to catch you.

  6. Timur I. says:

    Great! Thank you very much!
    I always wanted to write in my blog something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?
    Of course, I will add backlink?

    Regards, Timur I.

    RESPONSE: You can add our blog entries anywhere, as long as you provide hyper-linked credit to http://www.TrafficCourtBlog.com. We recommend using our RSS feed and you can use RssInclude.com to get an RSS Feed reader if you need one.

  7. Brad says:

    Nice job. I completely agree with you.

  8. Here is what you need to do: 1) get out a left handed smoke shifter; 2) attach it to the WYSIYG Scudbuss; 3) restore power. That should do it. Oh yea, turn off the timer.

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