How do I turn myself in on a warrant?

Warrants can be issued by Courts due to new cases, for probation violations, or failing to comply with a court order (for example, failure to appear when properly subpoenaed can lead to a show cause or a material witness warrant).  When the warrant is from out of State, sometimes there will be a request for extradition to enforce the outstanding warrant.

Notification of the warrant can be through the mail, a telephone call from police, or even perhaps from a friend or family member that received information from a police officer.  When a valid warrant exists you are at risk of being arrested whenever a police contact occurs.  The police contact can be a simple traffic stop, through a customs or border agent when entering the United States, or law enforcement could take a proactive approach and knock on your door or arrest you on your way to work.  Sometimes when you are stopped by police and they discover a warrant you are released because the jurisdiction where the warrant is from simply does not want to pick you up.  This is common for people stopped by the police in Oakland County for many misdemeanor offenses in Detroit.  There sometimes is a period of detention that occurs while law enforcement finds out whether or not the jurisdiction where the warrant exists will pick you up on that warrant.  In most instances if there is a valid warrant you should count on being taken to the court to address the matter.  In some instances, there is a bond or an interim bond that is set to allow for release.

If you have a warrant for your arrest your first step is to contact a lawyer that is experienced and that can help you, such as attorney Daniel Hilf from the law firm of Hilf & Hilf, PLC.  Why do you need a lawyer for a warrant?

  1. A lawyer may be able to help you obtain a reasonable bond to address the matter in Court.  Having a lawyer tells the Court that you are committed to appearing in the future to address the warrant because you took the step to hire someone to defend you.  Part of the Court’s concern whenever a warrant is issued is whether or not the person accused will attend court proceedings in the future.  A lawyer can help explain to the Judge or magistrate why you are not a flight risk and why you do not pose any risk of harm to the community.  There may be extenuating circumstances why the warrant was not addressed immediately, such as medical situations, mental health issues, a death in the family, incarceration elsewhere, or other reasons.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer can explain those circumstances to the Court in a way that may be more persuasive than how you could address the matter.  Part of the skill of an attorney is to address the issue to the Judge in a way that the Court will be receptive to.  The lawyer is able to do this based upon his or her familiarity with the court, legal training, and courtroom experience.
  2. A lawyer may help coordinate with a bail bondsman so that a bond can be posted with little delay.
  3. When you turn yourself in on a warrant, it may take several days before there is an arraignment and an opportunity to post bond.  The lawyer’s involvement may help prevent that lengthy delay.
  4. A lawyer is often able to get a commitment from law enforcement to arrange for a time and place to turn yourself in on the bond.  You stand a better chance of getting a reasonable bond if you turn yourself in with a lawyer, rather than being arrested due to a traffic stop, a police officer coming to your work, or while your home asleep in your bed.  If your child or spouse witnesses your arrest it is very traumatic to them, and this is a situation that is best avoided.
  5. If law enforcement know you have a lawyer, they are not permitted to question you about the case.  Making statements to police about the case is the number one way that prosecutors usually prove their case.
  6. You will need an experienced and skilled lawyer to represent you anyways.  You might as well have that lawyer with you at the beginning of the case.  The longer your lawyer is involved, the more likely he or she is able to help you.

If a warrant exists, and the jurisdiction where it is from will not pick you up or extradite you, why address the warrant?

  1. The trend of States is to, through the Secretary of State, either suspend your driver’s license if you have an outstanding warrant or prevent you from renewing your driver’s license.  Most people need driver’s licenses to drive to and from work and for other reasons.
  2. Most people will need to eventually return to the jurisdiction where the warrant exists for family or work related reasons.  If you return to the jurisdiction where the warrant is from  there is always the stress and risk that an arrest could happen.
  3. It is very stressful to have an outstanding arrest warrant, even if based upon where you live and the charge there is little chance you will be picked up.  The jurisdiction with the warrant is always subject to change their policies.  There is always the potential for a federal grant to be issued in the future to the jurisdiction where the warrant is out of to allow for enforcement of outstanding warrants.
  4. You may feel like a prisoner because your freedom of movement may be limited.
  5. If you are eventually arrested on the warrant, your chances of receiving a reasonable  bond are reduced.  If you ultimately go to trial, there is a risk that flight from prosecution could become an issue at that trial.  If you lose at trial, or plead guilty, you could face a harsher sentence.

The Court where you have your warrant from may have certain dates, times, and procedures to address outstanding warrants.  Not all Courts are the same, and your lawyer can provide you with the information you need.  If you choose to go it alone, you may want to call the Court and find out when and where to address the warrant.  Sometimes the Court will direct you to turn yourself in with the police.  In any instance, if you have paperwork that explains the failure to appear (for example: medical records; proof of incarceration; a death certificate of a loved one, etc.) you should make sure you have that paperwork for your lawyer and the court when you address the warrant.