Arrest Warrants and Bench Warrants in Oklahoma Explained bt Tulsa Criminal Attorney

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How arrest warrants and bench warrants are issued in Oklahoma

Initial criminal filing and arrest warrants

When a felony or misdemeanor case is initially filed, it is not unusual for bail bondsmen and some attorneys to send letters and other notifications to the targets of those warrants. I frequently get calls saying things like "I got a letter from a bail bondsmen telling me I have a warrant."

If you get these notices from bail bondsman you are receiving those because there was a recent criminal filing with your name and address on it. This information is recovered from the Oklahoma Supreme Court website. The website can be searched for "Daily Filings" by county, when that is done a report similar to the one below is generated.


Screenshot of OSCN.Net website showing the daily filings portion.

The warrants are found by clicking on each new case to see if a warrant was issued. When a warrant is issued there is a "court minute" issued on the "docket sheet" that shows the warrant was issued and for how much the warrant was issued for. The court minute looks like this:


Not all new filings have arrest warrants issued, it depends on whether or not the person was previously arrested on "probable cause" and has already bonded out or if the person was never arrested for this charge. The arrest warrant is simply the beginning of the criminal process, a way to get those charged with crimes into the system. If the person charged was arrested by the police and has bonded out of jail there is no need to issue an arrest warrant; that is why the warrants are only issued in some case.

What happens after an arrest warrant is issued

After a warrant is issued it is entered into the NCIC system, so that law enforcement officers will be notified if they come into contact with someone who has an outstanding warrant. Many of the warrants are also sent to the Tulsa County Fugitive Task Force (a group of officers that go around and arrest people with outstanding warrants). The warrant is also sent to the jail.

What should you do if you have a warrant for your arrest?

If you get one of these letters or otherwise find out you have a warrant for your arrest; the best thing to do is get a lawyer to assist you, get a bail bondsman and make arraignments to go down and surrender on the warrant. Don't make the Fugitive Task Force come looking for you, if you do they may arrest you at your job or in front of your family and it won't be a pleasant experience. It is much simpler to show up at the jail, surrender, get booked into jail and then booked right back out after the bondsman post the bond. If you handle the warrant by surrendering with a bondsman you will not have to spend the night in jail, will not have to change into jail clothes and you will never be placed into a cell.

What if you can't afford the bond?

If you can not afford the bond you are entitled to a bond reduction hearing, but you need a lawyer to file that motion and conduct the hearing. (Learn more about Bail Bonds.)

Why Bench Warrants are Issued

If a defendant has been recognized to court and "Fails to Appear" the judge will issue a bench warrant. If the defendant fails to appear after making a bond it is standard practice in Tulsa County for the judges to triple the bond. Many defendants get themselves in a legal mess by failing to appear.

When a defendant fails to appear and a bench warrant is issued with a higher bond it makes it more difficult to bond out in the future. Additionally, the defendant makes it less likely that they will receive probation.

Often times people fail to appear because they have bonded out of jail and they don't have money for a lawyer. It is a much better strategy to show up to court, get put back into jail because you did not have a lawyer, and have a public defender appointed to represent you.

What to do if you miss a court date

If you miss a court date and you have lawyer, call your lawyer immediately. If you don't have a lawyer get one. Depending on the judge and the particular circumstances, you may be able to have the warrant "recalled" if you quickly and voluntarily come into court and talk to the judge with a lawyer. You may have to also have your bondsman come to court to re-endorse the bond, but if the warrant is recalled and the bondsman re-endorses, you will not have to post a new bond. The more time that passes the less likely that is to happen, so don't wait.

Send your questions to LawyerAdams@me.com

I try to respond to all inquires as quickly as possible. If you need immediate assistance you can call my office (918) 582-1313 or my cell phone (918) 230-9513. If you are in need of emergency assistance feel free to call my cell phone anytime either day or night.