November, 24, 1980


TO: Magistrates and Municipal Judges
FROM: John Patrick, Assistant Director
RE: Endorsement of Bench Warrants

S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-190 provides for the endorsement and execution of "warrants" issued by magistrates of other counties or municipal judges when the person charged with a crime resides or can be found in the county of the endorsing magistrate. Questions have been raised regarding the applicability of this statute to the endorsement of bench warrants. Section 22-5-190 provides for the endorsement of "warrants" without specifying that such provision exempts the endorsement of bench warrants. Therefore it would appear that bench warrants may be endorsed for service in the same manner as numbered arrest warrants.

Please find enclosed in the ORDERS section of the Bench Book, an order of the Chief Justice providing that all magistrates and municipal judges shall endorse bench warrants for service in the same manner as numbered arrest warrants pursuant to § 22-5-190.

As stated in this order, bench warrants are not to be used for the purpose of initiating criminal proceedings, but are to be used only for the purpose of bringing a defendant before a court which has already gained jurisdiction over that defendant by previous service of a valid charging paper. With regard to an arrest based on a bench warrant, judges are reminded that the defendant is entitled to be apprised of the charges and reasons for arrest. To accomplish this informational requirement, a copy of the bench warrant should accompany the original, so that the copy may be served on the defendant at the time of arrest, just as with a regular numbered arrest warrant. Should you have any questions regarding this order, please do not hesitate to call this office.