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What is the difference between a bench warrant and a body only warrant?

Cashton, WI |
Filed under: Criminal defense

What is the difference between a bench warrant and a body only warrant, and why is it that Wisconsin puts stipulations on its warrants, such as “only in surrounding counties” or “will not extradite?”

Also, can someone be extradited from Wisconsin to another state for a bench warrant?

Attorney Answers 3


A bench warrant is a warrant by the judge "from the bench." Basically, it is called that because you failed to appear in court, so the judge issues an arrest warrant while sitting on his bench, so to speak. A body-only warrant means that you are to be held in jail until you are brought before the judge.

Your state is not alone in setting distance restrictions on warrants. Most warrants have these when entered into the computer system, so when an officer runs a check and discovers you have a warrant, it lets them know far the issuing agency is willing to go to pick you up. “Will not extradite” means that if you are located out-of-state, the issuing agency will not go through the expense of extradition to bring you back because the charges you are wanted on are not serious enough so you are not to be arrested out-of-state (but if you come back to the state you can be arrested). Hope this helps.

The comments listed here do not create an attorney-client relationship. The comments are for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice.

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Most states do something similar, for computer purposes, to designate that there are offenses for which a person may not be extradited.

This response does not create an attorney client relationship and is offered for informational purposes only. Only a lawyer fully versed on the facts and circumstances of your case can properly advise you on the case. I am licensed to practice in Minnesota, not every state. You should always consult with an attorney licensed in your area on how best to proceed.

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“Bench warrant” means you have appeared already. “Arrest warrant” (body) can be attached to the complaint when charges are filed - or you can just be summoned to court.

Usually the state only pays for Felony warrants to be extradited, and even then, it is up to the DA's office whether they want a person to be sent back to Wisconsin.

In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. You should seek counsel in your geographic area regarding any specific questions.

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