Don’t panic! If you know, or think you know, there is a warrant for your arrest, be proactive and call an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is perfectly okay and considered best case practice to consult with a criminal defense attorney to discuss the situation before you turn yourself in. There are a lot of reasons to call an attorney, but the most important one is that going through this process requires pre-planning in order to minimize the amount of the bond and your potential jail stay.
Your attorney should confirm whether or not the warrant is currently active and legally valid. If you were issued a warrant for Failure to Appear, for example, the fact that you did not receive proper notice for the court date would be a defense to the warrant and possibly a way to negate it. Furthermore, depending on the type of charge and the circumstances, some arrest warrants may expire administratively or by court order. Sometimes police will inform you of an outstanding (especially out of state) warrant that may appear in a database or computer by mistake or perhaps you share a common name with another person. If your attorney identifies one of these issues with the arrest warrant, it may be possible to file a legal challenge prior to the execution of the warrant. This is called a “Motion to Recall Capias, Bench Warrant, or Arrest Warrant.”
Advanced planning. If the warrant is legally valid, your attorney should help you plan for what may come next. It is important to prepare you for any potential brush with law enforcement officials during the booking stage, knowing that you must not speak with law enforcement or correctional officers about your case when you turn yourself in. You have a constitutional right to remain silent, so use it. Don’t ever think it is a good idea to give statements to the investigators or detectives! Don’t ever think you can talk your way out of being arrested or charged with a crime during an interrogation. You also have a constitutional right for your attorney or legal counsel to be present at any stage of questioning. It is perfectly fine to gently remind law enforcement that you are aware these two very important constitutional rights and that you are invoking them from the very beginning.
Financial Considerations. If there is no pre-set monetary bond attached to the arrest warrant, your attorney should advise you to get a professional bail bondsman ready if and when you need to post a bond. In doing so, you must make the necessary financial arrangements. Your attorney should be able to estimate how much the bond may be if it is not already pre-set by the judge on the arrest warrant.
Final Preparations. Your attorney should advise you on the where and when to turn yourself in. Judges rotate the dates and times of the first appearance schedule and your attorney should find out beforehand when the best time would be to turn yourself in order to minimize the amount of the bond and the length of time you spend in jail waiting for the first appearance hearing.
Your attorney must attend the first appearance hearing and argue for the lowest bond amount. Additionally, you attorney should be prepared to challenge your arrest for a lack of probable cause. If they can convince the judge that probable cause does not exist for the arrest, then the court must release you. If your attorney is successful in getting you a signature bond or ROR bond (release on your own recognizance), you will not require the services of a bail bondsman.
Post bond to leave jail, and start to prepare for case litigation. If no bond was set at first appearance, your attorney should schedule a bond hearing before the judge in your case as soon as possible.
If you or a family member needs assistance with an outstanding warrant in the Destin, Fort Walton Beach or elsewhere in Okaloosa County, call Shawn Lupella today at (850) 362-6655.