If you believe that you may have an outstanding arrest warrant in Bexar County or elsewhere, it is a good idea to try to address the situation promptly. You will certainly need a criminal defense lawyer to help with your case in this situation. But having an understanding of how arrest warrants work will provide clarification on your available options.
What is an arrest warrant?
Essentially, an arrest warrant is instruction for law enforcement officers to make an arrest. The warrant is a document with the name of a suspect as well as the crime they are being suspected of committing. Depending on the severity of the crime, arrest warrants may prompt law enforcement to more aggressively seek out a suspect. In less severe situations, the arrest may only happen once the suspect comes in contact by chance with the police.
It is important to note the difference between an arrest warrant and a bench warrant. A bench warrant means that a person who was summoned to appear in court has missed their court appearance. In this case, a bench warrant is issued for the arrest of the person who missed a required court appearance. As an example, if a person received a traffic ticket and forgot about their hearing, a judge may issue a bench warrant for failing to appear. If a bench warrant is issued, it is important to contact a lawyer and the court immediately to attempt to correct the situation.
Arrest warrants vs. search warrants
Another important distinction to make is between search warrants and arrest warrants. Whereas a search warrant permits law enforcement to search your home, vehicle, or other property for evidence of a crime, it does not provide them the right to arrest you. However, if police find incriminating evidence during the search, they may make an arrest.
How an arrest warrant is issued
A judge may issue an arrest warrant if they decide that there is probable cause to arrest a suspect for a criminal offense. Probable cause may be determined if there is evidence of guilt following an investigation by the police. Using the example of a shoplifter, police may review surveillance videos and find that the suspected person was in fact the person committing the act. After learning of this of evidence, the judge would then issue a warrant to arrest that person.
Another way for an arrest warrant to be issued is if a witness files a police report. In this case, the court could issue an arrest warrant for a suspect with the police report. Let’s say for instance that a witness observed a crime take place. If that witness reports the perpetrator of the crime to the police, the court will assign an arrest warrant for that person.
Arrest warrants do not necessarily mean that a trial will take place. Sometimes courts will issue a warrant before the suspect is indicted by a grand jury. If this happens, several court appearances can be expected. However, it is important to note that if a grand jury does not indict a suspect or even if police find evidence to be contradictory during an investigation, there is a possibility that the criminal charges could get dropped.
How to find out if you have a warrant
There are a number of ways to find out if you have a warrant for your arrest. Most of the time, you can search the online database of your county for information about any warrants that have been issued by the courts. For Bexar County, this resource can point you in the right direction.
Calling the court directly or asking an attorney to investigate your record are a couple other ways to find out if you have a warrant for your arrest.
How do I take care of my arrest warrant in Bexar County
If you are certain that you have an outstanding arrest warrant, immediate action is best. A criminal defense lawyer in San Marcos can negotiate on your behalf with the courts. While every situation is different, seeking the services of a defense attorney can improve your chances of a positive outcome.
One thing you should not do, is ignore the warrant. By doing so, you risk being arrested at any time. Even the simplest run in with the law such a minor traffic violation will provide police with the information for an arrest warrant. If this happens, immediate arrest is almost certain. At this point, bond will need to be posted for your release and you may need to find a criminal lawyer from jail.
But, by taking responsibility and addressing the situation, you have much more control over the situation. The best thing to do is to seek the advice of a criminal lawyer who can help begin the process of clearing the warrant promptly. A San Marcos criminal defense lawyer can also provide guidance on the next best steps to take along the way.