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BENCH WARRANT

An order issued by a judge for the attachement or arrest of a person. The name of a process sometimes given to an attachment issued by order of a court, against an individual for some contempt, or for the purpose of arresting a person accused; the latter is seldom granted unless when a true bill has been found.

If a person fails to appear in court when she has been properly ordered to do so, the judge is authorized to issue a warrant (a court order authorizing a law enforcement officer to arrest someone) for her arrest. A warrant issued this way is called a bench warrant.

E.g. X has fallen behind on court-ordered child support and is served with an order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for not complying. X failed to appear at the scheduled hearing; the judge may issue a bench warrant authorizing the police to arrest X and bring him before the judge to answer the charge of contempt.

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