What Should I Do If I Have a Warrant?
Discovering that you have an active warrant can be terrifying, especially if you don't know the reason for the warrant. Whatever the reason your warrant has been issued, it is important that you take action as soon as possible to clear your record, ideally with the help of a criminal defense lawyer. Doing so can protect you both now and in the future.
Types of Warrants
In California, the court will choose between one of two documents when issuing a warrant: a bench warrant or an arrest warrant. The warrant used in your case will be determined by the offense for which you are required to appear in court. If contempt of court, you are likely to face a bench warrant; if a criminal offense, you will face an arrest warrant.
The differences between these types of warrants are as follows:
- Bench Warrants are issued for contempt of court—meaning you failed to obey a court order, such as paying a fine or appearing in court. Though these warrants are often issued with additional fines and penalties, you won't be arrested automatically; instead, you are expected to clear you record in court.
- Arrest Warrants are issued for criminal offenses. As the name implies, these are issued with the purpose of arresting you and bringing you to trial. Thse warrants should be handled as quickly as possible.
Will I go to jail for a warrant?
Whether or not you will go to jail for a warrant depends on the type of warrant you are facing and also on the events that occur after the document has been issued. Because arrest warrants are issued for people suspected of criminal offenses, you can expect to go to jail with one of these on record. If you have a bench warrant, however, you will only be arrested if you are stopped by police for another reason and the court determines you should be jailed. Either way, it is important that you act quickly to remove a warrant from your record.
Next Steps: Dealing with a Warrant
If you are not sure whether you have a warrant, you can always check the warrant database found on the San Diego County Sheriff's Department website. Once confirmed, you should act quickly to meet the terms of the document and, if possible, get it recalled and quashed. This process is typically easier for bench warrants.
Take the following steps to remove your bench warrant:
- Contact an experienced criminal lawyer
- Contact the court and set up a hearing
- Attend the hearing before 8:30am
- Pay bail (if arrested)
By taking these steps, you should be able to clear a bench warrant from the judicial records. If not, your attorney can advise you on the following steps. An attorney will also be able to guide you through the process of handling an arrest warrant. If you are arrested without a proper warrant, you can challenge your arrest and possibly get your charges dismissed. By contacting an attorney as soon as you find out about a warrant for your arrest, you place yourself at an advantage.