There are several situations when a bench warrant is issued by a Court, leaving the Defendant with the question, “how do I turn myself in on the warrant”?
After a crime is allegedly committed, there are occasions when a police department sends a letter to a person who the police and Prosecution are accusing of a crime, indicating that a “warrant was issued for your arrest” and “you must turn yourself into the police department or risk arrest”. When faced with this situation, the individual should first hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Why hire a lawyer?
The lawyer is able to contact the detective assigned to the investigation to make arrangements for the surrender of the Defendant. This is done for several reasons:
First, to prevent the questioning of the Defendant about the alleged crime;
Second, in order to schedule a date and time for the surrender to eliminate or reduce the length of incarceration before the warrant is addressed by the Court;
Third, to try and secure a favorable bond recommendation from the detective, which will have influence on the magistrate or Judge who ultimately sets the bond;
Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer reduces the stress and anxiety of the person turning himself or herself in by giving him or her the confidence to know that he or she will not be forgotten and that the case will be handled in a competent, professional, and expedient manner.
Different Courts handle these types of warrants in different ways. Some Courts require the Defendant to turn himself or herself into the police agency with jurisdiction first in order for the Defendant to be booked and fingerprinted. Once the Defendant is processed, he or she is brought before a Judge or magistrate at a designated time. However, some Courts allow for interim bonds to be set and posted at the arresting police agency after booking and fingerprinting before a Court appearance is mandated. Some Courts allow Defendants to walk into the Courtroom and appear before an arraigning Judge at a particular time. Once the arraignment is concluded in this instance the Defendant is instructed to appear at the arresting police agency for booking and fingerprinting if he or she is not taken into custody. Some Courts will waive the arraignment if a criminal lawyer files an appearance form, which indicates to the Court that the Defendant has secured continuing legal representation concerning the case before the Court.
What should you do if you miss a Court date? Contact your lawyer, or hire a lawyer, immediately. If you have any paperwork to substantiate the reason for the missed court date (for example, medical documents providing proof of hospitalization or illness, proof of incarceration in another jail, a notice that has the wrong date on it, etc., etc.) provide that to your lawyer. You should try and address the matter as soon as possible – the longer you wait, the less likely the Judge will be satisfied with the reason for missing Court. It is important to note that providing the Court with relevant paperwork does not guarantee that you will not be incarcerated – it is up to the Judge to decide if the new bond should be higher or lower than any other posted bonds. Your lawyer can present your case in the best possible light in order to try and convince the Judge that reinstating the previous bond, or setting a personal or low bond, is merited.
At arraignment, the Defendant is read the charge or charges along with the potential penalty. The Defendant is advised of his or her right to counsel, and a plea is entered by the Court (guilty, not guilty, or mute) after consulting with the Defendant or the attorney on behalf of the Defendant. The Court will also make a determination as to what type and amount of bail or bond should be set. The Court will hear from the attorney as to bond before rendering its decision. Basically, the Court considers two issues when determining bond: risk of flight to avoid prosecution, and danger to the community. The Court is free to set a personal bond (meaning no money needs to be posted), cash bond, and/or surety bond (the holding of property as collateral to ensure the bond). The Court can only deny bond for treason or murder cases, however the Court can set high bonds that are in essence a denial of bond if the charge or history necessitates a high bond. It is important to take steps to be prepared to post a bond by having cash or a bail bondsman ready. If there is a chance that the bond cannot or wont be posted, arrangements should be made so that children and/or pets are cared for, transportation is provided to Court to prevent the impound of any motor vehicle, property is secured and cared for, work and/or school is notified, necessary prescription medications are on hand, and family members know about the possible incarceration. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer, such as attorney Daniel Hilf, gives you the best chance of staying an remaining out of jail or prison.