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Bench warrants

These are warrants of apprehension issued in a higher jurisdiction (either the District Court or the Supreme Court). They are issued because the defendant either failed to answer bail in that jurisdiction following committal of an indictable matter or failed to answer a summons to appear in relation to estreatment of bond proceedings [see Bail Act 1985 s 6(5) and Bail chapter].

A duty solicitor may on occasion have to deal with defendants who are in custody in relation to a fresh arrest on a summary matter where a warrant check has disclosed that there is also a bench warrant in existence for an unrelated matter. They can do nothing about the bench warrant. The defendant will have to be conveyed to the higher court to appear on that matter following the appearance in the Magistrates Court.

However, an application for bail should nonetheless be made in relation to the summary court matter(s) if appropriate. Otherwise, were the defendant to be bailed subsequently in respect of the higher jurisdiction charges, he or she would remain in custody until a further bail application could be made in relation to the summary matter(s).

In practice there may be little merit in a bail application in the lower court given that the defendant may be viewed as a bad bail risk in light of the prior absconding (this will, of course, depend on the circumstances of the non-appearance). The defendant may be better advised to delay an application for bail in respect of the Magistrates Court matters until their solicitor has had time to assess the whole situation and to negotiate bail conditions for both sets of matters.
Bench warrants  :  Last Revised: Mon May 21st 2012