A warrant is a piece of paper signed and issued by a judge empowering the police to arrest a person, search them, or seize their property. These orders never expire, so even if a warrant for your arrest was issued months or years ago, it will still be considered active until the issue has been dealt with.
Having a warrant out for your arrest can be a frightening experience, and many people who learn that there is a warrant in their name believe that their only options are turning themselves in to the nearest police station or lying low and hoping for the best.
A warrant isn’t a problem that will just go away, though, so it is important to approach the situation proactively. Here are three simple steps that can help you protect your civil rights while engaging with the legal process responsibly.
1. Call a Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative to have an attorney who can represent your interests in the legal system, so the first thing you should do is get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer like Jeff Reisman Law who has experience dealing with arrest warrants.
A criminal lawyer will be able to advise you on how you should proceed, and will even be able to negotiate with law enforcement on your behalf as you figure out how to turn yourself in.
2. Find a Surety
Depending on the reasons for the issuing of the arrest warrant, you may be eligible for a bail release. Your lawyer should represent you at the bail hearing and make an argument for why you should be able to go free while you await your first trial date.
To secure bail, however, you will need to have a surety — someone who agrees to supervise you while you are out on bail and ensure you do not commit any further offense. Writing down the contact information for friends or family members who may be willing to stand as surety will help make the hearing go more smoothly.
3. Turn Yourself In
Once you have received counsel from your lawyer and found a surety, you should arrange to turn yourself in. This may be as simple as going to the nearest police station, but if the warrant was issued by an authority in another city, you can either travel to the jurisdiction in which the warrant was issued or inform the local police of the situation and have the charges transferred.
If possible, don’t bring any personal belongings with you or drive your own vehicle to the station. If you are not released, this could create complications.
When facing criminal charges and an arrest warrant, it is always better to own up to the situation and turn yourself in. Securing legal counsel and a surety beforehand, however, will improve your chances of receiving bail and will help you protect your rights in advance of the trial.