What To Do When There’s a Warrant for Your Arrest

Police officers waiting outside with a warrant for your arrest
Facing the distressing situation of having a warrant for your arrest in California can be overwhelming. As a criminal defense attorney, I, Michael C. MacNeil, understand the importance of grasping the implications and taking immediate action to navigate this challenging circumstance. This quick read aims to provide clear and informative guidance to address this issue effectively.

California arrest warrants are legally authorized documents that empower law enforcement officers to detain individuals suspected of committing illegal or criminal activity. Understanding this process, from the evidence presented to judges by peace officers, district attorneys, or grand juries, is paramount. Don’t stress or let fear consume you. Clearing a warrant is not impossible. Follow these tips to regain control over your situation.

1 – Understand the Different Types of Warrants

When there’s a warrant for your arrest, you must understand the various types to determine the right course of action. Let’s review each type and shed light on their characteristics.

Arrest Warrants

Law enforcement agencies file for arrest warrants when they have probable cause to believe that you committed a crime or were involved. Typically, these are issued at the onset of a criminal case, serving as the basis for your arrest.

Ramey Warrants

A Ramey warrant is similar to the above. However, police execute it without the district attorney’s approval. A magistrate must sign off on this warrant, indicating that there is probable cause for your arrest. In this situation, there are no formal charges upon arrest. This approach occurs when immediate action is necessary, such as over the weekend or if there is a concern that you may attempt to flee.

Bench Warrants

Bench warrants, on the other hand, are issued when you fail to comply with court orders. Judges or law enforcement can request a warrant for your arrest during an open case due to your non-compliance.

Search Warrants

Search warrants grant permission to search a specific location and seize property or items related to a crime. Law enforcement requests these warrants when they believe potential evidence is on the scene.

Common reasons for issuing a warrant include criminal charges, failure to appear in court, probation or parole violations, and other misdemeanors. Ignoring any of the above will result in severe consequences. Therefore, clearing a warrant as quickly as possible will be in your best interest.

2 – Verify the Warrant Exists

If you suspect law enforcement has a warrant for your arrest, do not act without proof. Fortunately, there are several websites you can visit to verify an arrest warrant. One reliable approach is to utilize online databases. Each county and state website provides near real-time information regarding legal actions and active warrants.

These include sheriff websites, local courts, and the Superior Court of California. By performing a quick search, you can find out if a warrant exists before you take action. Furthermore, consider running a criminal background check on yourself to obtain information about any pending activity. Doing so can provide additional clarity on your situation.

While these methods can provide initial insights, I advise you to seek legal advice before clearing a warrant. A consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney will provide a deeper understanding and help determine the best strategy for your case. Remember, attorney-client privilege ensures that your discussions remain confidential and protected.

3 – Take Necessary Action

Lawyer speaking with a client on mobile phone

If you discover you have a warrant, remain calm and proceed with caution. Panicking or attempting to evade authorities can complicate matters and potentially give the impression of guilt. When contacted by the courthouse about an arrest warrant, take the time to understand the reason behind it. You may find that the charges are for someone with a similar name or that you are a victim of criminal identity theft.

Once you’ve confirmed a warrant for your arrest is valid, contact a defense attorney immediately. Your lawyer will provide valuable guidance and help you avoid further complications. They can challenge the validity of the arrest warrant and protect your rights, minimizing the likelihood of spending time in jail.

Additionally, consider arranging for bail if necessary. Preparing for the surrender process in advance can help streamline the legal proceedings. Don’t forget, you have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney. Exercise these rights to protect yourself throughout the legal process. If you stay composed, seek legal counsel, and understand your rights, you can take necessary action to address the issue and work towards clearing a warrant.

4 – Consider Turning Yourself In

In certain situations, voluntarily turning yourself in can be a strategic decision when there is a warrant for your arrest. By being proactive, you demonstrate your willingness to cooperate with the legal process and increase the likelihood of a smoother resolution. Turning yourself in with the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can have significant advantages. Prior negotiations between your attorney and the prosecutor can lead to favorable outcomes such as an own recognizance release (OR) or stipulated bail amount, minimizing the time spent in jail.

Law enforcement can execute the warrant at any time. So, choose an appropriate time and place to turn yourself in if possible. For instance, if the police attempt to arrest you at your home, that may be traumatizing for children or your immediate family. An arrest at your workplace may have ramifications, potentially resulting in termination. When considering potential outcomes, influencing when and where the arrest occurs could prevent future headaches and loss of employment.

If there is a case of mistaken identity, bring any necessary documentation or identification requested by law enforcement or the court. Demonstrating your willingness to comply with their instructions fosters a more positive interaction. Remember, turning yourself in when a warrant for your arrest exists may increase the chances of being released on recognizance or having bail reduced. This approach, combined with careful consideration and the support of a knowledgeable attorney, will make clearing a warrant much easier. 

5 – Prepare For the Legal Process

After turning yourself in, be prepared for the legal process ahead. That includes an initial court appearance, a bail hearing, and building a defense strategy. Navigating the court proceedings requires understanding and compliance, especially when dealing with domestic violence or felonies.

It’s important to consider possible outcomes such as case dismissal, negotiating a plea deal, or going to trial. By working closely with your attorney, you can confidently proceed through the process and increase your chances of clearing a warrant successfully.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, when faced with a warrant for your arrest, be proactive and take responsibility. Turning yourself in with an experienced criminal defense attorney brings significant advantages. If you need help clearing a warrant, call 858-922-7098 to schedule a consultation. Taking action now can make a real impact on the resolution of your case.

About Michael MacNeil

Michael C. MacNeil is a San Diego Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney. With a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, MacNeil has a solid understanding of our justice system. As a member of the State Bar of California, MacNeal can practice before all courts in the state. MacNeil believes that the law should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. With over 20 years of experience, Michael C. MacNeil is passionate about the law and will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you. Call Mr. MacNeil at 858-922-7098.