If you do not appear in court, you will receive a bench warrant. This means that if you are stopped for a traffic ticket or have another arrest, the bench warrant will pop up and you will get arrested for the bench warrant. You can potentially remain in custody until such time that you have a bench warrant hearing and new bail is set in your case. You could remain in custody for several days until you are eventually released from custody. Bench warrants in Philadelphia have changed though. We now see that bench warrants in Philadelphia can result in up to ten days of contempt in jail.

To avoid this entire predicament, you can turn yourself in to the Criminal Justice Center at 1301 Filbert Street at 7:30 – 8:00 a.m. any weekday after about 7 calendar days have passed after the bench warrant was issued. Once you turn yourself in you will be temporarily taken into custody and walked to a courtroom where a judge will determine to release you, increase your bail, or incarcerate you for ten days or less.  By turning yourself in, the court system looks at you in a much more favorable way, like amnesty, because you voluntarily walked in to fix the problem as opposed to you getting re-arrested by the police.

Clients often ask if there is a chance that they will get locked up when they go and get the warrant lifted. People get locked up very rarely when they go to turn themselves in, however it does happen. Some example are when the warrant is very old. In this case, the system may just increase the bail. In this scenario I advise people to bring some cash with them to court, or to have a friend or family member go with them to court and be prepared to pay a new bail in the case. However, recently, people have been getting locked up much more often on their Bench Warrants in Philadelphia.

The other scenario is when the type of bench warrant that was placed on them was called a judge only bench warrant. A judge only bench warrant means that the judge who issued the bench warrant is the only person who can lift the bench warrant. A judge only bench warrant is usually only issued when a person fails to appear for their felony trial date. If you get a judge only bench warrant, you usually will get locked up when you go to turn yourself in.

Often times if a person has a potentially bad situation with a bench warrant or a judge only bench warrant, appearing with an attorney can greatly lessen the blow of getting the warrant lifted.

14 comments on “Bench Warrants in Philadelphia

  1. If its an arrest warrant, you will most likely have to turn yourself in. This will take between 12 and 36 hours. Monday or Tuesday is your best bet to make it quicker. You will be processed and bail set, then assuming you make the bail, released. If it is a warrant for contempt, that is a whole other story. If it is for contempt, write me back and I’ll write another comment.

    1. Until the person gets before the judge who issued the warrant. Usually a day or two. If the judge is on vacation, as soon as they get back. I have never seen more then 10 days. However, on a judge only, there may be certain other consequences at the hearing, like a bail increase or a contempt.

  2. If I have a warrant issued for failing to show up to see my parole officer a few years back, does turning yourself in to the criminal justice center apply to me as well? I’d rather do it that way instead of going into a precinct. I haven’t had my parole officers number for a few years, and can’t even remember her name, so contacting her is out.

  3. I just found out I have an active bench warrant in Philadelphia back from 2002 for impersonating a public servant and trespassing. I was 17 at the time and had no idea a hard to go court. If I go turn my self in will I be arrested for something so old? What about my job and everything else . Omg

  4. I live out of state and not in Philadelphia I have been trying to handle a bench warrant for child support via phone before the warrant was issued I had been trying to handle it for two weeks and the person I was dealing with kept on putting me off now the warrant has been issued for child support how do I get this handled if I do t reside in that state

  5. I have a warrant for possession of heroin (very small amount). It is from April 2015 (today is 9/6/17). Want to turn myself in on this but am worried of getting locked up even though I know this is a minor offense. Since that arrest I can prove that I have been clean for over 2 years now, have a great job, and am successfully supporting my family. Plenty of evidence to prove that. Can I expect to leave the CJC the same day for something like this? Thanks in advance for your advice.

    1. You should be ok, but some of the judges sitting in bench warrant court have been giving people up to ten days in jail. Understand when you turn yourself in, that goes a long way as compared to getting picked up. You should turn in as soon as possible.

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