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How to resolve 6 year old bench warrant?

Bellingham, WA |

I was arrested in 2006 for possession of a small amount of Ecstasy, I was released on $1000 bail -- paid cash. I did not appear in court for any of my court dates at all. Washington State Court website shows a bench warrant issued. In 2009, after 3 years it shows I had forfeited my bail. I have not been caught and I have kept out of trouble. Is there a SOL on this charge? Is there a SOL on the bench warrant? What is the logical next step to resolving my issue? I hope you can help. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 3


The statute of limitations defines how much time from the date of an incident the prosecution has to file charges. If charges are filed within the required time period, the statute of limitations no longer is an issue. The second time issue is your right to a speedy trial. The state has to bring you to trial within a given time after your arraignment. If the charges are filed on time and a warrant is issued before speedy trial runs out, the clock stops ticking until you appear or the warranty expires. Warrants can be renewed before their expiration date indefinitely. What this means is that a properly issued warrant usually lasts forever.

You canto either post the current failed and get new court date, have your attorney file a motion to quash the warrant, or contact the court to see if they have a mechanism to address the warrant on your own.


I assume SOL is meant to be an acronym for Statute of Limitations. The SOL is for the filing of charges not for whether you are time barred from being prosecuted after charges have been filed.

Bench warrants normally expire and then the court reissues the warrant.

You can either post bail for the amount of the warrant at which time you will be given another court date or you can go the court the warrant is issued out of and seek to have the warrant quashed. If you proceed by means of a motion to quash the warrant, the court could serve the warrant (and possibly increase bail), quash the warrant, lower the bail amount, keep the bail amount the same, or give you a temporary release to either surrender yourself or post bail. You can also move to reinstate your original bail.


There is no statute of limitations on a bench warrant. The statute of limitations covers the time period for filing a charge. Since the charge was already filed, there is no SOL issue. Your best bet is to consult with an attorney who handles bench warrants and drug charges. They can help you get the warrant taken care of and the charges resolved.

Good luck.



If someone is arrested and arraigned that means that the charges are filed? Even if they were released on bail after their first appearence?

Adrian Martinez Madrone

Adrian Martinez Madrone


Yes. An arraignment is the hearing at which the charges are formally entered and a plea of guilty/not guilty is taken. In some courts, they hold a first appearance hearing before the actual arraignment. That hearing may have been when your bail was set. The fact that you appeared in court and had bail set is likely sufficient to toll (stop) the statute of limitations. That would be true even if you skipped out on the actual arraignment itself.

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