There’s nothing more dreadful than receiving word that there’s a warrant out for your arrest. Thoughts will swirl in your head, and internal debates will rage about what you did or could have done. If you know that there’s a warrant issued for your arrest, don’t panic.
We’ll cover the things you should do when there’s a warrant issued for you and the things that you shouldn’t.
Let’s get started.
There are Different Types of Warrants
The types of warrants vary, depending on the situation and the purported crime. Knowledge is power, and understanding the nature of the summons issued to you is half the battle. Here are the most common types:
If law enforcement has enough evidence that you have committed a crime, a detective or an officer can ask the court to issue a warrant for your arrest. Once you’re in custody, the police or arresting agency can hold you without bail, until your release hearing or arraignment.
Judges can issue search warrants that give officers the authority to search a specific property for a particular purpose. Search Warrants are not Arrest Warrants. Law enforcement will often ask the courts to issue a search warrant together with an arrest warrant if there is enough cause to do so.
When a defendant fails to appear for a court date, a judge can issue a bench warrant. Judges issue this type of warrant if there are new charges filed against a defendant. Bench Warrants are also released when there’s probable cause that a suspect committed a crime.
Courts issue Bench Warrants for common violations such as:
- For violating probation.
- Failure to appear.
- Failure to follow a court order.
- To pay a fine.
- To pay child support.
- Complete community service.
Judges usually set a bond amount on the warrant, and in many jurisdictions, defendants can do a walk-through to clear the warrant. Some cases have defendants appear in front of a judge at arraignment to clear the warrant.
Also called a Rule 8 Warrant or Green Warrant, it is all about the money that you owe the court. Reasons for this warrant can include unpaid tickets, fines, and other costs. Some jurisdictions allow you to come in and pay the penalties or even set up a payment plan on your own. Others require that you have a cash bond or get a bondsman to post a bond.
Probable Cause: Arrests Not Needing a Warrant
Police officers can make warrantless arrests based on probable cause. If an officer witnesses someone committing a crime that needs immediate action, there’s no time to secure a warrant. Also, if a police officer has “probable cause” to believe a crime happened, s/he can make an arrest without a warrant.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with an Arrest Warrant
What to DO when there’s a warrant issued for your arrest:
- Once you get word that there’s warrant out for your arrest, you need to take care of it now, on your terms. Most warrants are often cleared without any jail time.
- Find out what jurisdiction issued the warrant and whether it was a city court or a district court. Note that each jurisdiction is different, with varying policies on how they clear warrants.
- There are many online services where you can do a free warrant check. Please note that you need to know where you might have a warrant. You’ll also need to provide your date of birth. Doing a warrant check lets you find out what the charges against you are, and how much the warrant is.
- Speak with your attorney on what the best course of action is to clear the warrant. You may also want to get in touch with a bondsman to post a bond if needed. If you don’t have an attorney, find one as soon as possible. If there’s a criminal case against you, you’ll need a lawyer to represent you with the DA and the court.
What NOT to Do When Facing an Arrest Warrant:
- Don’t ignore the warrant or wish it to go away. Warrants do not disappear or clear themselves if you ignore them. The only recourse is to address the issue immediately with a skilled attorney.
- If you haven’t taken care of the warrant yet and an officer serves you, do not try to run! Running will only make your situation worse and add to the charges against you. Stay calm, keep your wits about you, and stay polite. If you end up in jail, your loved ones can work with a lawyer to get you out.
- Do not try to travel or leave the country. Airport security checks include databases for outstanding warrants. If you get flagged in the airport, it will look like you’re trying to flee.
- Never turn yourself in without seeking legal representation. An attorney can advise you on the best course of action, as it is often unnecessary to get yourself arrested to clear a warrant.
Remember, getting yourself arrested is bad enough. Getting arrested in front of family, friends, or co-workers, however, is the absolute worst thing in the world. Never ignore a warrant, and always speak with your attorney.