Contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, running for the Caribbean is generally not the right response to learning that there is a warrant for your arrest. Hiding from or ignoring an arrest warrant is typically a poor choice, as well. On the other hand, walking into the police station without advance planning may not work out the way you were hoping—particularly if you turn yourself in on a weekend or in the evening.
Reasons You Should Not Ignore an Arrest Warrant
It is not unusual to learn of an arrest warrant before law enforcement makes contact with you. Maybe your friend’s cousin who works at the police department recognizes your name and tips you off. Maybe you never got around to changing the address on your driver’s license and the police stopped by your mom’s house looking for you. Or, maybe you are anticipating a warrant because you suddenly remembered that you were due in court yesterday.
How you heard about the warrant is not important, but what you do next counts.
Here are just a few of the reasons ignoring or dodging an arrest warrant is not in your best interest:
- If you wait for law enforcement to catch up with you, the time and place may be very inconvenient—in the parking lot of your place of employment or while you’re at the grocery store with your toddler
- If you are arrested after hours, you may spend more time in jail than you would otherwise
- If you make the police track you down, bond terms may be far less favorable than if you make arrangements to surrender yourself or schedule a court date
Unfortunately, resolving an arrest warrant on your own can be tricky. Police, courts, and prosecutors are not always inclined to cooperate with criminal defendants. That’s especially true if you have failed to appear in court before, have a significant criminal history, are charged with a serious crime, or send up some other “red flags.”
Working with an experienced local criminal defense attorney can help smooth the process and open up options for resolving the warrant.
Resolving an Arrest Warrant with the Help of a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Often, the best way to approach an outstanding arrest warrant is to retain a local criminal defense attorney to represent you. While every situation is different, an attorney familiar with the local criminal justice system may be able to arrange for a resolution such as:
- Having the arrest warrant withdrawn and a court date scheduled
- Surrendering yourself at an agreed time and place with the option of bonding out as soon as you are processed
Even if it’s not possible to ensure that you can avoid arrest or be released shortly after processing, arranging for surrender can allow you the opportunity to make any necessary arrangements, such as:
- Arranging for back-up care for your children in case you are held longer than expected
- Arranging to have adequate funds on hand to promptly post bond
- Ensuring that you surrender yourself when the court is open, if an appearance is required before you can post bond
If you know or suspect that there is a warrant for your arrest, give yourself the benefit of a knowledgeable advocate right from the start.