There's a Warrant Out for My Arrest; What Should I Do?
A quick guide for those with an open arrest warrant.
I have an open warrant. What does that mean?Someone has filed a complaint against you wherein they allege you committed a crime; or
Evidence was presented to a Grand Jury and they voted there was probable cause for felony charges; or
A bench warrant was issued, i.e. a judge ordered you taken into custody for failure to show up for court, pay a fine, or complete your promises for community service or a program.
How will the warrant be enforced?The New York Police Department has a warrant squad, which goes to people's homes and workplaces to find them. Additionally, if you are stopped by the police and they run your name through the system, the warrant will pop up and you'll be arrested on the spot.
What should I do?Call an attorney immediately. An attorney can contact the police precinct on your behalf and schedule a surrender. This will save you the embarrassment of having the police come to your home or work. It will also better protect your property; wherever the police arrest you (home, work, in your car) they may have the authority to look around or search through your belongings. Your attorney can also schedule an early morning surrender, to hopefully avoid a night in jail. He or she may also coordinate helpful witnesses and evidence so that it is available to the police, prosecutor, and judge early in the process.
What should I avoid?Do not talk to anyone in law enforcement about your case without a lawyer present. Police are trained to get you to talk, but they have no loyalty to you. They will use the parts of the conversation that help their case, often out of context. Sadly, the police can lie to get you to say things that can be used against you. There's almost no chance that you'll be able to talk your way out of the arrest. But there's a great chance that you'll make comments that can damage your case.