Realizing that there is an arrest warrant issued for you can be a frightening matter. This is especially true if you are not sure why the law wants to arrest you. What should you do when presented with this? How do you go about finding out if there is one issued for you? Here is some advice on how to handle an arrest warrant if it happens to you.
Arrest Warrants Defined
An arrest warrant is issued for these situations:
• Probable cause
• Failure to appear
An arrest warrant for probable cause is issued when law enforcement officers and a judge suspect a person has committed a crime. There must be sufficient probable cause for a judge to issue this warrant. Armed with this warrant, the police can come to your home or place of work and bring you in.
Failure to appear in court results in the issuance of what is known as a bench warrant. Unpaid traffic tickets are another reason for issuing a bench warrant.
An arrest warrant can be effect for many years. These days where everything is computerized it is difficult to hide forever from an outstanding warrant. Furthermore, most people don’t even know there is an outstanding warrant on them. This is the case with unpaid traffic tickets, especially those that were received in another state.
A typical scenario is when a police officer pulls a driver over for a traffic violation. While the officer is writing a citation, he checks for outstanding warrants on the driver. Usually, the officer only has access to warrant databases at the state level. If a warrant is found in the search, the driver is arrested.
Since it is possible that you may have an outstanding warrant and not realize it, how do you find out? The risk with finding your own warrants is that you could be arrested once an authority discovers you are searching. For example, you went to your local police station to ask about outstanding warrants.
A safe way to find out is to consult with a criminal defense attorney who knows where to find the information (they should know). Other possibilities are: bail bonds offices or courthouse clerks.
Clearing Your Warrants
Naturally, most want to clear their warrant when they find out there is one on them. Depending on the seriousness of crime, it would be wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney first. If you are just clearing unpaid traffic fines, it may only require payment of a penalty.
When They Come for You
If there is an arrest warrant out for you, you probably will not be aware of it because law enforcement wants to use the element of surprise. If they come knocking at your door, answer it. Hiding in your house will do no good because the warrant gives them the authority to break in to arrest you if they must.
The arrest warrant gives law officers the right to search the area that is in your control at the time of arrest. In other words, the area where you can immediately reach or lunge is fair game for officers to search.
For this reason, you should walk outside of your home and lock the door behind you when presented with the warrant. This keeps officers from entering and doing protective sweeps or looking around the room you were in. You don’t want to give them anything of question that they could use against you. Plus, there have been isolated instances of officers planting things to frame you.
Once outside, let them handcuff you and remain silent from that point on. Tell them that you choose to remain silent and must speak with a lawyer.
No matter how law abiding a person is, there is always the possibility that the person could accidentally fall on the wrong side of the law.
For example, all someone has to do is accuse a person of a crime that the person never did. Thus, it is important to know what to do when faced with an arrest warrant. Protecting your rights is the top priority and a skilled criminal defense lawyer is the best one to advise you.