I was charged with marijuana poss two years ago in Austin. I went to court for the first hearing but didn't go back. I want to take care of the ticket now but I live in another state (LA). I know I have a bench warrant as well. Do I need a lawyer? Can I fix this from Louisiana? Can I go to jail if I turn myself in?
Your best bet would be to contact and hire a lawyer in Austin, then take the steps to go to Austin and settle the issue. You will not be able to handle it in Louisiana. If you turn yourself in while in Louisiana, they probably will not take you because it is a misdemeanor. But, going to Austin to answer the issue without being arrested would get you "brownie" points.
Be aware that you are likely to lose your driver's license.
If a warrant was issued, you could be arrested anywhere at any time. I suggest you take care of this. You can begin by contacting an attorney in Austin. S/he would best be able to assist you and guide you on what to do.
If you tried to turn yourself in somewhere other than Texas, they probably would not accept you. If you tried to turn yourself in somewhere in Texas, other than Austin or close to Austin, they might not accept you, either, because of the cost of transportation and housing.
If you turn yourself in in Austin, you would probably go to jail, and in about 5 days you would be taken to Jail Call, where, unless there are other factors no mentioned so far, you would be allowed to plead guilty (or no contest, and be found guilty) and sentenced to time already served. The big disadvantage is having your driver's license suspended and then having to pay a reinstatement fee and probably a surcharge to get it back.
You can hire a lawyer and ask her to try to arrange a "walk through" at your arrest, meaning she will have gotten a bond approved ahead of time, so you literally walk through the booking process. If there are no other factors, probation with a drug education class and some community service is likely. If you want to just take a conviction and the consequences that go with it, it is not impossible to plead guilty in absentia (i.e., without having to come to court), but that depends on too many factors to go into here. And, it's a final conviction with the DL suspension.
This answer is intended to be taken as general information and not as specific legal advice. You should always consult a qualified attorney and make him familiar with all the relevant facts in order to get proper legal advice. Every case is different, and they must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. David N. Smith Austin, Texas [email protected] (512) 457-0100
Do Not turn yourself in, especially in LA. You have a bond forfeiture out of the county court that you will have to settle ($) but once that's done and you have local counsel there is a very good chance you can get the case moving again without coming back to Austin. Once your old bond forfeiture is settled out with the county, judges will typically allow your lawyer to get your case back on the docket and simply issue a recall card for the outstanding warrant. Not always, but often. Yes, you absolutely need a lawyer.
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