A bench warrant is issued by a judge when a person with a pending criminal case violates the rules of the court. Sometimes a warrant is issued for violating Pre-Trial Services requirements. Most often, people with bench warrants simply have failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance. Once a bench warrant is issued, the police can treat it like any other warrant - and use it to arrest people and keep them in jail until they appear back in front of a judge.
If you've missed a court date in Thurston County, it can be possible to turn yourself in voluntarily, without being taken into custody. The District Court and Sheriff's Office are located in Building #3 of the main courthouse complex, at 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW in Olympia. Bring photo I.D. with you if you have it. If you have any paperwork that explains why you missed court, bring that with you too.
For Superior Court (felony) cases, check in at the front desk of the Sheriff's Office. The designated voluntary turn-in day is Tuesday only. You must turn yourself in between 8:30 and 9:30 am on any Tuesday. You should plan to be in court at 10:00 am on the same day as your voluntary turn-in.
After you check in at the sheriff's desk, your case will be added to that same day's court calendar for Arraignments. Next, you will go to the courtroom in Building #2. Court is scheduled to start at 10:00 am, so you will need to be in the courtroom on time. Your name will be added to the end of the list of cases that will be heard by the judge. Unfortunately, frequently there are a large number of cases on the docket, so you need to be prepared to wait in court until up to 12:00 noon. A lawyer from the Office of Assigned Counsel will be present in the courtroom to help you.
For District Court (misdemeanor) cases, check in at the District Court front counter. The designated voluntary turn-in days are Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, starting at 8:30 am. You will be scheduled for the next available court date. Unfortunately, the warrant will stay active until the person appears in court. For further information, please contact the District Court at (360) 786-5450 Monday – Friday 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.