Many people may feel uneasy about the potential of having a warrant out for their arrest. While this is an important legal issue that needs to be addressed, it’s not necessarily as scary as it sounds. Warrants are issued for many different reasons. It could be a bench warrant, which simply means you failed to show up in court when you were legally obligated to do so. It could also be for a traffic violation that was never resolved. In more serious cases, a judge might sign a warrant for your arrest if you happen to be suspect in a crime. Regardless of how severe the issue is, it’s crucial to address your warrant. Ignoring a warrant out for your arrest can result in a long list of legal troubles that may or may not include jail time. Below is a guide to help you understand arrest warrants and what to do if you believe that there is a warrant out for your arrest.
How Arrest Warrants Are Obtained
In order to obtain an arrest warrant, a police officer must persuade a judge that they believe a particular person was more than likely involved in a crime. The officer must showcase probable cause in these circumstances. They have to be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime was indeed committed and they have strong evidence that points to one person. This person must be able to be directly named and identified. Broad or vague descriptions of potential criminals will not result in an arrest warrant. The officer must be able to convince the judge that you were directly connected with the crime. Only then will a judge turn over an official document (a warrant) with permission to arrest the person described in the report.
Collect Information on the Warrant Out For Your Arrest
First, you’re going to want to collect as much information as possible about your arrest warrant and find out if there’s one that actually exists. Most law enforcement agencies or sheriff’s departments will list warrants on their websites. This is often the first step for people who are seeking more information on arrest warrants. It’s worth it to try to find out what records law enforcement has so you can relay this information to your criminal defense lawyer. If you can’t find this information online, you can contact the courthouse directly. They should be able to tell you more about your charges and if there is a warrant out for your arrest. Here’s a list of details you should try to collect from your search:
- Date of the arrest
- If the charges were filed, and if so, what date they were filed
- A full description of the charges
- If this was officially issued by the County Sheriff or the City’s local law enforcement
- If the charge was labeled as a felony or misdemeanor
- Any other information concerning the conviction (i.e, sentencing or probation)
- Possible fines, penalties, or other consequences like a suspended license.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Once you’ve gathered all of the information you need about your arrest warrant, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Many people will make the common mistake of turning themselves in before calling a lawyer. While you may be eager to resolve the issue by addressing it head on, it’s not necessarily the smartest approach. It’s always recommended to contact a lawyer before you contact the County Sheriff or the City’s Police Department. Even if you weren’t able to find any information either through the courthouse or online and you’re led to believe you don’t have a warrant out for your arrest, you should still contact a lawyer first. Criminal defense attorneys will have access to different criminal records lists that may contain the information you’re looking for. Once you’ve found the right lawyer, you need to ask them some pertinent questions regarding your arrest warrant. Here’s a list of possible questions you should consider asking your lawyer:
- Is all of the information on my warrant correct? Am I the right person they’re looking for?
- What if I already have a criminal record? Is this taken into account during my sentencing?
- Do I have to participate in a police line-up? What if I protest?
- Is posting bail an option for me?
- What do I need to do before I turn myself in?
- What information should I provide?
- What information should I not provide concerning the case?
There’s no doubt that discovering that there’s a warrant for your arrest is a daunting process. However, receiving answers to these and other questions can help you to wrap your mind around the charges and feel better about moving forward. If you’re in a position where you are certain that there is a warrant out for your arrest, contact an criminal defense attorney today to resolve these legal obligations.