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Arrest Warrant vs Bench Warrant

What is the difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by a judge at the request of the prosecutor and law enforcement whereas a bench warrant is usually initiated by a judge. In general, arrest warrants are issued when a crime has been committed and law enforcement has probable cause. A bench warrant is mainly issued by a judge when someone fails to appear in court.

Las Vegas Arrest Warrants

In all of the Clark County Justice Courts, the process for an arrest warrant is initiated when:

1. A document titled “Declaration of Warrant Summons (Affidavit)” is filed with the Court along with a copy of the Criminal Complaint and a Request for Arrest Warrant.

  • The Declaration of Warrant/Summons is an affidavit that is drafted by the investigating officer that details the officer’s investigation with a focus on what crimes are alleged to have occurred and the facts that support that assertion.
  • At the end of the document, the officer asks for an arrest warrant to be issued. Specifically, the language reads, “Wherefore, Declarant prays that a Warrant of Arrest be issued for suspect ________ on the charge(s) of __________”.

2. After these documents are filed with the Court, the judge reviews the documents and decides:

  • First whether probable cause existed; and
  • Secondly whether or not to issue an arrest warrant. In Las Vegas Justice Court, this document is called “Arrest Warrant – Face Sheet.”

3. Finally, the judge determines what bail amount to set for the charge(s).

Generally speaking, if the judge finds that there was probable cause, they will issue an arrest warrant. However, the judge does also have the option of issuing a summons in lieu of an arrest warrant, which would mean that the person would receive communication from the Court by mail notifying them of their upcoming court date and commanding them to be present instead of issuing an arrest warrant, which would direct law enforcement to arrest the person and bring them before the judge.

Have a warrant out for your arrest? Contact Ferris Law at (702) 710-8882 today to schedule your free consultation.

What happens after a warrant is issued?

Once a warrant is issued, the warrant becomes active and law enforcement agencies are directed to arrest the person and bring that person in front of the judge. Depending on the seriousness of the case and the jurisdiction, it is possible that law enforcement will come looking for the person. Jurisdictions such as North Las Vegas and Henderson will come to people's homes for cases as minor as misdemeanor traffic warrants.

At the very least, however, law enforcement is supposed to arrest a person with warrants if they otherwise come into contact with that person. If the police contact occurs within the same state as the warrant was issued, then it is very likely that the person will be arrested on the warrant. An example be a routine traffic stop where the officer becomes aware of the warrant when they run the person’s information after pulling them over for speeding. Even though the person was only stopped for speeding and would normally just be issued a citation and sent on their way, the officer is instead expected to arrest the person and take them to jail because of the outstanding warrant. If the police contact occurs in a different state than the warrant was issued in, then the person will only be arrested if the warrant is extraditable. Generally speaking, only felony offenses are extraditable.

What to do if you have a warrant

In order to avoid being arrested, it is important to retain a Las Vegas defense attorney who can then file a motion to get on calendar to address the outstanding warrant with the person out of custody.

Advantages of being out of custody

  • Allows the person to show their initiative to get the matter resolved
  • Highlights that the person is appearing before the Court while out of custody and of their own volition
  • Gives the Court greater reassurance that the person will appear at future proceedings

What is extradition?

As stated above, warrants on felony cases are generally extraditable, which means that if a person comes into contact with law enforcement outside the state of Nevada and that officer is aware of the warrant, the officer is supposed to arrest the person and hold them in custody pending an extradition hearing. When a person is stopped in Nevada on a warrant from another state, the person is arrested and a new felony case is created for the charge of Fugitive from Another State. That person then goes before a judge and is asked whether they will waive extradition or whether they intend to fight it. Once a person waives extradition, they are held in custody for 30 days while the state who issued the warrant decides whether or not they actually want to come and get the person.

If the state issuing the warrant decides that they do not wish to extradite the person, the person is then released so long as they do not have any pending cases here in Nevada. If the person does have pending cases in Nevada, they will not be released until all pending cases are resolved. In order for a case to be considered resolved for the purpose of the fugitive hold, the person must actually be formally sentenced by a judge.

The fugitive hold can be extended beyond the 30 days if the judge decides that there is good cause to do so. So even if the state that issued the warrant takes longer than 30 days to come get the person, it is possible they still may not be released once the 30 days is over. .

What to do when facing extradition

Extradition can be both a lengthy and expensive process and should always be avoided if at all possible. People sometimes wait months to be extradited and then are stuck for weeks being transported from the arresting state back to the state that originally issued the warrant. At the conclusion of that person's case, they will be ordered to pay for any of the costs associated with that extradition, which can be thousands of dollars.


One example is a person who was arrested in the state of Washington based on an arrest warrant on a felony case that was issued by a Nevada justice court judge. That person was transported by vehicle and the trip took 3 weeks total. The vehicle made stops in multiple other states dropping off other fugitives before finally arriving in Nevada and that person was also responsible for paying about $1,5000 in extradition costs for that terrible trip.


Even if a person has already been arrested out of state on a Nevada warrant, it isn’t impossible to have them released so that they can arrange their own travel and appear out of custody. It is also often possible to get the case resolved in its entirety without the out of state defendant ever having to physically appear in court here in Nevada.

However, it is imperative to involve a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Doing so allows the attorney to begin talking with the prosecutor about having the warrant recalled and pulled from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

Do you have a warrant in Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Mesquite, Searchlight, Goodsprings or Laughlin? Call (702) 710-8882 today or contact Ferris Law online to schedule your free consultation.

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