Arrest warrants may be issued for a number of reasons, none of them good. Reasons for arrest warrants may be civil in nature, such as failure to pay child support. They may also be criminal, to bring a suspect to trial to answer for a crime he or she is alleged to have committed. Judges may unilaterally issue warrants in instances where a subject fails to appear for a scheduled hearing. These warrants are called "bench warrants." If a bench warrant is issued for your arrest, it is desirable to have it cleared as soon as possible, because once the warrant is issued, you are subject to arrest at any time.
Check with the clerk of court in the county in which the warrant was issued. Find out when the warrant was issued and exactly what it was issued for.
Read More: Bench Warrant Penalties
Determine if there are any fines associated with the warrant. In some cases, especially civil warrants such as child support delinquency, you may be able to simply pay the fine in full in lieu of being arrested. If there are no fines, there might be a bond. Determine this ahead of time so you can post bond quickly and be released.
Contact an attorney. It is always advisable to consult an attorney in any legal matter. In the event an arrest warrant has been issued, an attorney will be able to assist in completing the appropriate paperwork and in giving advice on how to proceed. An attorney will be able to represent you in any hearing regarding the warrant or the case for which the warrant was issued.
File a motion to recall the warrant. If you have hired an attorney, he or she will be able to do this for you. A motion to recall a bench warrant must include a very good reason as to why you missed the original hearing. Remember, what you think is a good excuse might be a valid reason to the judge. Sleeping late or simply forgetting will likely not be acceptable. You will need to show good cause, such as an unscheduled surgery, death in the family, sudden illness or other unforeseen event.
Turn yourself in. Unfortunately, in most cases you will have to answer for the warrant. Contact the local jail and arrange for a time to report. Make arrangement in advance to have money for any bond readily available so you can arrange to be released quickly.
Attend the hearing. In almost every case, a hearing before a judge will be required, because the judge is the issuing authority for the warrant. Ultimately, it will be a judge who determines the merits and validity of the case.
No matter what the case, a judge will make the final determination regarding the warrant. In most cases, a warrant can only be lifted if it is determined the warrant was issued illegally or the merits of the case are found to be lacking. No matter what, a hearing will likely be required and you will need to appear before the court.
- No matter what the case, a judge will make the final determination regarding the warrant. In most cases, a warrant can only be lifted if it is determined the warrant was issued illegally or the merits of the case are found to be lacking. No matter what, a hearing will likely be required and you will need to appear before the court.
Joel Garrison is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Science in political science from Florida State University. He has served as an editor for the Florida House of Representatives and worked in crash reconstruction. Garrison teaches report writing, communications, physical fitness and health and nutrition to police recruits. He is also a firearms, defensive tactics, first-responder and CPR instructor.