What To Do If You Have an Active Warrant

Finding out that you have an active arrest warrant can be a scary experience. As a criminal defense attorney, I’ve seen firsthand the anxiety and uncertainty that clients face in this situation.  In uncertain situations, people often make poor decisions.  With the possibility of being arrested at any time, it is crucial to understand your rights and know the best course of action. This blog will give you those tools.


First, remain calm. Making rash decisions leads to poor outcomes. Your first step should be to gather information about the warrant, specifically why the warrant was issued.  They can be issued for several reasons, including missed court dates, unpaid fines, or new criminal charges. Knowing why the warrant was issued is essential for deciding your next steps. You can find more information on arrest warrants in this article written by attorney Tom Hangen and this article written by attorney Chris Cain.


Before taking steps to quash your warrant, talk with a criminal defense attorney. As an attorney who practices exclusively in criminal defense, I cannot stress enough the importance of legal representation during quashing a warrant.


Your rights do not go away if a warrant is issued, specifically you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. It is important to take advantage of these rights.  Any statements you make in court, during the arrest process or when quashing the warrant can and will be used against you in future hearings.


In nearly all cases, voluntarily turning yourself in is the best course of action. This decision should be made with your attorney, as it can sometimes lead to a more favorable outcome in court.  However, it needs to be done in the proper order. Your attorney can help you in lining up a plan for either a walk-in warrant, or another route to quash the warrant that helps to keep you out of jail.


If turning yourself in is the chosen course of action, prepare yourself for the arrest process.  The arrest process can be as simple as turning yourself into court administration to schedule a hearing, to walking into the jail and being held for a couple of hours, to spending a few nights in jail.  It is important to plan for the worst-case scenario.  Plan for logistics, such as caring for pets, missing time from work, and a plan for bail, if possible. Your attorney can recommend you on the likely bail amount and the process for securing it.


Avoid the temptation to not take care of the warrant. Ignoring it won’t make it go away and can complicate your situation further. Also, don’t try to explain or justify the situation to law enforcement without your attorney present.


Once you’ve turned yourself in, the next step involves addressing the underlying issue of the warrant. This could be as simple as agreeing to appear in court, paying fines, or setting conditions of release. Whatever it is, your attorney will guide you through the process and represent you in court.


An arrest warrant doesn’t mean you are guilty. You have rights and are entitled to due process. Facing an arrest warrant is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. With legal support, it’s possible to manage the situation effectively and minimize its impact on your life.

By taking informed, deliberate steps with the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can resolve the situation. Remember, you’re not alone in this process.

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