Warrant Out for My Arrest! Do I have to Turn Myself in?
We receive tons of calls from worried clients panicking because a warrant has been issued for their arrest and they don’t know what to do. Common and understandable questions most ask is: What is a warrant and how can the police come and just arrest me? Should they turn themselves in? Should they obtain counsel? In this article we will try to answer the most common questions we get from clients with warrants.
What is a warrant?
An arrest warrant is an official written document calling for a person’s arrest. A warrant allows the police to legally take your freedom and liberty. A warrant usually occurs after the police have a reason to believe you have done some crime.
In Georgia, to obtain a warrant the police must prove to a natural, unbiased, and detached judge that you probably committed the crime they are accusing you of committing. The Officer must have enough evidence to show to the judge that you probably committed the crime. This standard of proof is called probable cause. This means the police must have done some type of investigation prior to obtaining a warrant against you. The unbiased judge then must hear the evidence against you and believe you probably did the crime as well. This standard is pretty low. In fact, most warrant sought after are approved. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40, O.C.G.A. 17-6-90.
There is also a type of warrant that a judge issues without needing probable cause. If you have a court date and you fail to appear, the judge will issue what it called a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a judge for the arrest of a person accused of a crime by a grand jury or for the arrest of a person charged with a crime who has failed to appear in court after actual notice to the person. See O.C.G.A. 17-7-90.
How do I find out if I have a warrant?
Most people usually find out they have a warrant once they are pulled over for violating a minor traffic volition. Once the cop runs your name and info, the warrant information will also appear. However, this is not the way you want to find out if you have a warrant.
Criminal records are usually public information. If you are in a county that is up to date with technology, you can go online fill in your name, date of birth and your criminal record will display. If you are in a county that does not provide this information over the internet, you can simply call the clerk or the sheriff office, give them your name and date of birth, and they will be able to look into the system and inform you.
Do I have to turn myself in?
Yes, generally when there is a warrant out for your arrest and you actually know about the warrant, you are supposed to turn yourself in. As an attorney, it is our ethical duty to help you fight the law, however we cannot tell you to break the law. So what we can’t tell you is to not turn yourself in.
However, contacting an attorney is the best first step. The lawyer will be able to consult with you as to why you have a warrant, and what to do next. For instance, the lawyer may be able to contact the agency that took the warrant against you and set up a specific day and time to turn yourself in. They may even be able to consent with the sheriff to a bond amount. This way you have time to tell the important people in your life what is going on and make the proper arrangements, rather than the police just busting into your home unexpectedly. Your attorney can coordinate you turning yourself in and bailing right back out.
My case is so old; it says it’s been dead docketed?
Dead docket is when the prosecution postpones litigation indefinitely. This does not mean the case is closed, dropped, or dismissed. The prosecutor can reopen the case at any time. Dead dockets usually come about in situations where there has been a warrant for a person’s arrest and the person never turned themselves in or the police never went looking for the person. Once you finally turn yourself in, or they happen to find you, they will definitely reopen the case against you.
So there is a warrant out for my arrest, what do I next?
Don’t be afraid to check your criminal record. Checking your criminal record will be the best thing you can do for your case. Too many times people just ignore their legal issues in hopes of it disappearing. Let me tell you, your warrant will not disappear until you take care of it! If you do have a warrant or you think you may have and you want a legal expert to check, contact Bixon Law. We will check your record, and help you get your case completely resolved.