What Should I Do if I Have an Active Arrest Warrant?
Although the target of an arrest warrant is not supposed to know that he or she actually had a warrant issued for his or her arrest, sometimes the target nevertheless discovers that a warrant has in fact been issued. If the target is a hardened criminal, chances are he or she will attempt to evade police for as long as possible. Is this really the best route, however? If you have never been in trouble with the law before, will attempting to evade police apprehension help you or hurt you in the long run?
No Easy Answers to the Question
Unfortunately, this is a question without easy answers. No criminal defense lawyer can advise you to break the law (and this blog post should not be interpreted in any manner as advising you to do so), but as a practical matter, how you respond to news that there is a warrant out for your arrest will depend on your personal situation. Your two options include:
- Surrendering yourself to law enforcement. You can report to the nearest police station or sheriff’s office and turn yourself in. Doing this will result in your arrest – law enforcement officers do not have the discretion not to arrest someone for whom an arrest warrant has been issued. However, if you have some assets you may be able to bond yourself out immediately. This may be the better solution if your arrest warrant is due to failing to appear in court on a traffic matter or other low-level crime. Be careful, though: if you turn yourself in and discover there is no bond set on your warrant, you are not able to change your mind. In such a situation you would sit in jail until you were able to be seen by a judge.
- Attempting to evade capture. You may also choose to actively evade capture for as long as possible. The severity of the charges against you will likely dictate the efforts law enforcement will expend to find you. Some individuals have successfully evaded capture for years – even decades. However, evading capture means a complete disruption of your daily routine and can place incredible strains on your family and friends.
Can a Lawyer Help?
Unfortunately, there is not much a lawyer can do to resolve the arrest warrant before it has been executed. In certain limited circumstances (i.e., when the warrant was issued because you failed to appear in court for a ticket), a lawyer may be able to arrange an appearance date for you in court and have the warrant conditionally withdrawn. Once a warrant has been executed and you have been arrested, however, an attorney can help you set a hearing so the judge can review your bond. Your attorney can also represent you at this hearing and argue to the judge why you should be released on your own recognizance or why the bond that was set by the court is too great and should be lowered.
Jeffrey S. Weiner is a South Florida criminal defense attorney with years of experience assisting residents deal with criminal charges ranging from driving under the influence to murder. Contact his office for help if an arrest warrant has been issued for you or if you have been arrested. You can reach his office by calling (305) 670-9919 or by contacting the office online.