Navigating Legal Waters: A Guide to Warrants

Dealing with an arrest warrant can be an unclear process, often steeped in uncertainty and fear. It’s a situation where the right knowledge and actions make the difference in being booked and released the same day or spending nights in jail. A lawyer isn’t just a legal advisor; they are a necessary guide through the complex maze of the legal system. This blog aims to explain how a lawyer can be a vital ally in addressing an arrest warrant, quashing a warrant or getting rid of the warrant, providing clarity, guidance, and representation.

IS THERE AN ACTIVE WARRANT?

Figuring out if you have an active arrest warrant can be a bit tricky, but here are a few ways you might be able to check:

Contacting Local Law Enforcement: One way is to contact the local police department. If you’re comfortable, you can call them and ask. Just be aware that if there’s a warrant out for you, they could potentially act and locate you based on that information provided to search for an active warrant.

Court Websites: MCRO, a Minnesota Court database, can allow you to search for an active warrant if you have specific information such as a court file number or a citation number.  Searching by name typically will not allow you to find your case to determine if you have an active warrant.

Public Records Search: There are also online services that do public records searches. Blue Earth County, for example, does have a warrant search page where you can check if an arrest warrant has been ordered. However, many counties do not, and they might not always be up-to-date or completely accurate.

Lawyer’s Assistance: This is your best option.  An experienced attorney can check with multiple different sources to determine if you have an active arrest warrant.  Additionally, they can help you navigate the process and figure out the best course of action on how to quash, or get rid of, a warrant.

Remember, if you do find out there’s a warrant for your arrest, it’s usually a good idea to deal with it sooner rather than later, preferably with legal assistance. Ignoring it can lead to more complications down the line such as increased bail.

UNDERSTANDING THE WARRANT

The next step in confronting an arrest warrant is understanding it thoroughly. Warrants can be complicated, filled with legal terminology that may not be immediately clear. A lawyer can clarify the language, explaining the nature of the warrant, the jurisdiction it falls under, and the specific charges involved. This understanding is crucial in preparing for the next steps and in formulating a planned response. Moreover, a lawyer can help determine if the warrant was issued following proper legal procedures, ensuring that your rights are not being infringed upon.

WHY WAS THE WARRANT ISSUED

An arrest warrant typically takes place when a defendant misses court. But a warrant can also be requested for a more serious allegation such as a failure to comply with conditions of release, a violation of probation or a general arrest warrant when a case is filed. A lawyer will help address the root cause. They’ll work to gather facts, build your case, and present your side of the story.

ADVICE

Once it is determined an active warrant is out for your arrest, what comes next? Here, a lawyer’s expertise is invaluable. They can counsel you on whether it’s advisable to voluntarily surrender to the authorities, a decision that could potentially influence the court’s view of your case. Your lawyer can also help prepare for the surrender process, ensuring that it goes as smoothly as possible. This may include advising on the best time and place to surrender and what to expect during the process. For example, the day you turn yourself in can drastically affect when you can see a Judge.  Walk in warrants can typically be taken care of the same day if done properly, which can result in not spending days and nights in jail. Furthermore, an attorney can guide you on how to communicate with law enforcement to safeguard your rights.

COURT REPRESENTATION

Typically, a court appearance is necessary. This is when you want to ensure you have legal representation.  Not only can the lawyer represent you at the hearing but can also explain to the judge why a court date or appearance was missed. An experienced lawyer can navigate the complexities of the courtroom, challenge evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and present a compelling defense on your behalf. Their representation can be the difference between a favorable outcome and a less desirable one.

NEGOTIATING BAIL

Should bail be a factor in your case, a lawyer plays a key role. They can argue for a fair bail amount, considering your financial situation and the nature of the alleged offense. Their negotiation skills can be crucial in ensuring that the bail set is within a reasonable and affordable range, allowing you the possibility of release pending trial. The court can also consider that you have hired a private attorney when determining release. The thought behind this is that if you have paid money for an attorney, you are likely to return for court.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND SUPPORT

Throughout this process, your lawyer is a pillar of support. The confidentiality of your conversations ensures you can be open and honest, allowing your lawyer to provide the best possible assistance. The unknown can be difficult.  An experienced attorney can explain the unknown and have a rock-solid plan on how to quash, or get rid of, the warrant.

CONCLUSION

Getting an arrest warrant ordered can be a challenging time.  It is scary knowing law enforcement is actively looking for you to put you in jail.  A lawyer can help you navigate through this process. With their expertise, support, and advocacy, you can navigate these troubled waters more confidently. If you’re facing an arrest warrant, don’t go it alone; seek the expertise and support of a legal professional.

Tom Hagen is an award-winning attorney and partner at Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd.  He focusses his practice exclusively on criminal defense. If you have questions or need help quashing a warrant please contact him at 507-625-5000 or via email at thagen@khmnlaw.com

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