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Should I Turn Myself in If There’s a Warrant for My Arrest?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Should I Turn Myself in If There’s a Warrant for My Arrest?

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If you learn there’s a warrant for your arrest, it’s always best practice to consult a criminal defense attorney before you decide to turn yourself in. It’s important for you to know the level or severity of the outstanding warrant. Sometimes it’s as simple as missing a court date.

Understandably, if you or someone you care about is in this position, you’re rightfully frightened.

Do you or someone you know have a warrant for arrest? You need a tough, smart attorney to protect you and ensure that you are treated fairly. The Law Office of Greg Tsioros is dedicated to providing the best legal representation possible. Click here to contact his office today.

According to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 15, a magistrate orders a warrant of arrest. The warrant commands a peace officer or another specifically named person to take an individual into custody for an offense. The magistrate may issue either a warrant or summons. A summons is similar to a warrant except that it requires the defendant to stand before a magistrate at certain time and place.

If you were previously arrested and you’ve already appeared before the judge, you may know the seriousness of the charge. If you haven’t made the first appearance, you probably have little or no information about the charge against you. For instance, you might not know the charge or whether a new charge has violated probation in a previous case. You don’t know if bail is available and, if so, the amount of bail. And if you are actively avoiding arrest, the situation quickly escalates.

Proceed with Caution

Most people in this situation know it’s quite stressful. It’s rational to consider going to the local police to end the stress associated with the unknown.

It’s also reasonable to assume that going to the police at this stage will resolve the matter of the open warrant and yield a lighter punishment. Although it is true that doing so will resolve the warrant and the prosecutor might ultimately think more highly of you, it’s essential to proceed with caution. It is always best for you to appear voluntarily, with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Realize you don’t have unlimited time to turn yourself in. It may take some time for police to arrive at your house or place of employment to arrest you. You face arrest anywhere – even outside the jurisdiction that issued the warrant – at any time until the warrant is resolved. Follow these steps to simplify the process and lower your stress.

Step 1: Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney

Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discover the essential details of the case. Don’t turn yourself in on an existing warrant until you know why the warrant was issued. You should arrive with an understanding of what’s going on.

You might not know a criminal attorney to contact in such a situation. Even if a family member agrees to contact a criminal attorney on your behalf, it might not help you get out of jail right away.

In that case, you don’t know how long you will be in jail.

That’s one of the reasons why you should take enough time to identify a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. He or she can help you to negotiate the most favorable surrender. Ideally, your attorney will help you get booked, processed in the jail, arraigned in court, and released in a short period of time.

Inform a close family member about the decision to engage an experienced criminal lawyer. When you or your family retains a criminal defense attorney, he or she can explain the specifics of your case, including the court dates at which you must appear.

Perhaps the current arrest affects another case. For instance, if you’re involved in a custody case but stand accused of a DUI charge and face an outstanding warrant, these matters could affect the standing custody case.

A minor violation can result in an arrest warrant. If you missed a court date because the clerk of court made an error, you might not have been notified about the new court date. Perhaps the court date was changed “last minute” and the court didn’t notify you of the change. In that scenario, your attorney will explain that a bureaucratic issue caused your absence. The attorney will ask the court to quash or clear the warrant. In this example, the attorney will explain that you don’t present any danger to the community and that your prior failure to appear in court was the result of an error.

Step 2: Arrange Bail if Necessary

If the warrant involves a serious charge and bail is available, the attorney will explain the bond amount. If the bond was set, it may have been raised in the interim. If you don’t appear in court, the judge is likely to increase the amount of your bail bond. Since you might not have the cash bond with you in jail, the attorney will help you post the bond.

You may have the option to pay the bail bond in full by check, debit card, or money order, but this isn’t a guarantee. Consider your range of payment options before going to the police station. Many people don’t have enough cash to post bail. In that case, contact a bail bond firm or ask your family member to contact the bail bondsman for you.

If the judge has established a high bond, the attorney can ask for a bond reduction hearing. In addition, the attorney can reach out to witnesses to testify regarding your character.

Show respect to everyone with whom you interact in the Texas criminal justice system. Listen to your criminal attorney. Don’t speak unless he or she asks you to do so.

Your attorney may argue for no bond or release on recognizance (ROR). If you’re released on recognizance, you promise to return to the court. In this instance, you won’t pay the bond to get released from jail. You make a contract with the court to return on a voluntary basis.

If you can’t raise the amount necessary to post bond, you must stay in jail until you either make bail or until the hearing date. Although no one wants to stay in jail, a bail bondsman typically charges a 10 to 15 percent fee to post the face amount. In other words, if the bond face amount is $100,000, the bail bondsman will charge $10-15,000. If you don’t have assets to secure the bond, you will need a co-signer to pledge collateral.

The bail bondsman pays bail to the court and you are placed in the bondsman’s custody. At that time, your warrant is resolved. He or she ensures you will appear at assigned court dates. When the matter of your arrest is concluded and you are found innocent or guilty of the charges, the security or capital needed to post the bond is returned, less the bondsman’s fee.

Step 3: Work with Your Attorney to Prepare a Defense Strategy

The Texas criminal justice system is complex and confusing. Preparing for a criminal trial is a harrowing process.

If you or someone you love is facing an arrest, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston. If you’re considering whether to turn yourself in for an open warrant, let us help. As a former prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office (both misdemeanor and felony courts), Greg Tsioros can make the difference.

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