Warrants are legal orders that permit law enforcement officers to take specific actions. How you deal with an outstanding warrant can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. All warrants, regardless of whether you believe the warrant to be valid, should be taken seriously.
Common Types of Warrants
An arrest warrant is one of the most common types of warrants. Arrest warrants can be issued for any kind of crime, including drug crimes, domestic violence, homicide, assault, juvenile crimes, sex crimes, and many other crimes. The arrest warrant gives law enforcement officers the legal authority to apprehend and detain the individual named in the warrant.
A judge issues an arrest warrant based on probable cause. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that the person named in the arrest warrant committed the alleged crime. The requirements for probable cause may also be met if sufficient evidence exists to imply that the person committed the crime based on the applicable circumstances.
Attacking probable cause is a very common criminal defense strategy when fighting criminal charges. If there was no probable cause for the arrest, any evidence obtained through the arrest could be thrown out of court.
A court issues a bench warrant. The court may issue a bench warrant directing law enforcement officers to arrest an individual and bring the person before the court for a specific reason. Reasons to issue bench warrants include, but are not limited to, failing to appear in court, failure to pay child support, probation violations, or failing to pay court-ordered fees.
Search warrants are another common type of warrant issued by the courts. Search warrants are also based on probable cause. A judge may issue a search warrant when police officers present evidence that indicates a person may have concealed evidence on his person or in a specific location.
What is an Outstanding Warrant?
An outstanding warrant is an unexecuted warrant. For example, the court issued an arrest warrant several months ago, but the police have been unable to locate the person named in the warrant. When police officers find the person named in the arrest warrant, they will execute the warrant by arresting the person.
An outstanding warrant may also be an arrest warrant that has yet to be processed or served. A law enforcement agency may be working through outstanding warrants, and your warrant just has not been processed to serve.
What Should You Do if You Suspect You Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?
Contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case. An attorney can determine if an arrest warrant is outstanding and the charges named in the arrest warrant. You need to find out as much about the arrest warrant as possible as quickly as possible.
A criminal defense attorney can explain the criminal charges against you. He can also discuss your legal rights, various defense options, and plea agreements. Your attorney can explain what will happen after your arrest, which can be very comforting if you have never faced criminal charges.
Your lawyer may be able to work with the law enforcement agency for you to turn yourself in at the police station instead of being arrested at work or home. In some cases, your attorney may be able to make other arrangements to satisfy the arrest warrant so that you do not need to be held in jail overnight.
What if You are Arrested Before You Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you are arrested before you can speak with an attorney, do not panic. Do not argue with the police officers that they are making a mistake. Also, do not try to explain your side of the story.
It is best to exercise your legal right to remain silent except for asking for an attorney. You are not required to answer any questions without first consulting with an attorney or without having an attorney present.
Police officers may try to convince you that asking for an attorney makes you appear guilty. They may tell you that once you ask for a lawyer that they cannot help you.
Do not be fooled by these statements because the police officers are not interested in helping you. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are only attempting to gain as much evidence they can use for a conviction before you “lawyer up.”
The best way to protect yourself after being arrested is to contact an attorney for advice and guidance.