Turning Yourself In for a Warrant
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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If you find out you have a warrant, it is best to speak with a criminal lawyer before you turn yourself in. This is the best route to take because there are many possible consequences and levels of severity of warrants. If you have already been arrested and had a first appearance before a judge, you have an understanding of the seriousness of your charge. If you have not had a first appearance before a judge, you likely have little to no information about your case. For example, you may not know the charges, the bond amount, and whether incurring a new case has violated your probation in another case. A criminal defense attorney will uncover these important details for you before you turn yourself in on the warrant, so you will go in understanding exactly what you need to do to take care of it.
If you turn yourself in before retaining an attorney, you may be unable to reach an attorney quickly after being incarcerated. Even if you are prepared and have family members ready to call an attorney should you be remanded, you may find that the state doesn't give your attorney immediate access to you while in jail. You could be in jail a long time. The length of your stay depends on how long the State asks that you be held in custody. When you retain a defense attorney, your attorney will be able to tell you about the specifics of your case. They will also be able to let you know the date of your upcoming court dates. They can tell you whether the case for which you are incarcerated now affects another open case. For example, if you are accused of a DUI and have an outstanding warrant, this could affect your standing custody case.
It may be that you did not come to court because of an error by the clerk of court. You may not have been notified of your court date, or your court date may have been changed at the last minute. When bureaucracy-related problems explain your absence in court, your attorney will ask that your warrant be “quashed”, meaning, “cleared.” Your attorney will explain to the judge that your failure to appear was due to a simple mistake and that you do not present a danger to the community.
One of the most important things your attorney will tell you is the amount of your bond. If bond was already set, it will likely have been raised. When you do not appear for court, a judge usually increases the amount of your bond. If you have an existing bond and cannot bring a cash bond with you to the jail, your attorney will assist you in posting a bond. If the judge has set your bond high, your attorney can request a bond reduction hearing for you. Your attorney will be able to organize witnesses to testify on your behalf in the hearing.
Your witnesses will give the judge reasons why you should be released. The best witnesses to have at a bond reduction hearing are family members, significant others, and employers. A judge is moved to release you when they hear that you are not a danger to society. They also view it as a positive if family members and employers care enough to show up in court and ask for your release. It helps if your witnesses promise to remind you of an upcoming court date.
In a bond reduction hearing, an attorney can request a “no bond,” or release on recognizance (ROR) for you. This is a release based on your promise to return to court. In an ROR, you do not pay a bond for your release. Your signature is your contract with the court; you are making a promise to the court to return voluntarily.