Imagine getting pulled over for a routine traffic stop, only to find out that you have outstanding warrants against you. Something as simple as missing a court date, or failing to pay a traffic ticket, can result in a warrant. If you aren’t informed about this, it can hang over your head and strike when you least expect it.
Taking a proactive approach will help you determine first, if any warrants exist, and second, help you resolve them before they become a bigger problem. Here’s what you need to know if you are in this situation.
Determining if a Warrant Exists
The first step is to determine whether or not there is a warrant against you. Doing so will inform you of what type of warrant it is. You can call your local clerk of court and inquire to see if there is a warrant under a specific name. This is public record. But, you will be asked some questions such as your birth date, the spelling of your name, and your social security number.
Another way to find out if you have outstanding warrants is to do a search online. Many county courthouses now offer the ability to search for warrants through their secure sites. This gives you a little more privacy and is a good alternative if you concerned about the type of warrant that may exist against you.
If you don’t want to contact the clerk of court directly, you can work with a lawyer. A lawyer will help you gather the information you need and determine what you might be facing. Most significantly, they will offer guidance on how best to deal with your current situation.
Different Kinds of Warrants
There are several different kinds of warrants that the court can issue and each kind has different consequences. So, it is helpful to understand the major differences between the types of warrants.
A bench warrant is the most common and instructs police officers to bring you in front of the court so that you can immediately address the problem. You may be held in jail until you can get an appointment to appear before the court.
A bench warrant is commonly issued for failing to pay a traffic ticket, failing to appear for a set court date, probation violations, defaulting on state mandated child support or alimony payments, or failing to do court ordered community service.
This is the most serious type of warrant. If you have an arrest warrant that is outstanding, you will be immediately arrested and taken to jail. This type of warrant is issued when it has been proved that you are guilty of committing a crime and they have enough evidence to convict you.
If you have an arrest warrant, once you are in jail, you will typically not be offered bond and will need to wait for a court date to be set up.
Addressing the Issue
Being proactive will help you in several ways. First and foremost, it proves to the court that you are willing to face your responsibilities. This can result in a lighter sentence or charge against you. Second, it will help mitigate the stress and worry that you could be facing arrest at any moment.
If you know that you missed a court date or failed to pay a ticket, there is most likely going to be a bench warrant out for you. Instead of risking it, it is much better to find out what is out there and take care of it before it becomes an issue. The same is true for an arrest warrant.
However, before you decide to approach the court, you must have legal representation. Find a criminal defense lawyer and let them know about your situation. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action that you can take.
Working with a lawyer will help increase your chances of lessening the blow of a warrant. It will also ensure that you are adequately protected under the law. Having qualified legal advice is a necessity, even if you are facing a simple bench warrant for an outstanding traffic ticket.
Don’t take chances with your future. If you are concerned about potential warrants, follow these steps and then contact a qualified attorney. You’ll reduce the amount of stress you are under and ensure that you are not caught off guard.
About The Author
Michael D. Leader is a criminal lawyer with Fort Lauderdale law firm Leader & Leader P.A. Specializing in all forms of criminal law, Michael Leader and partner George Leader offer years of legal experience and a commitment to ethics.