Although each state has its own laws and procedures they follow when a person is charged with a criminal offense, the one good thing is that you are protected to some degree under the United States Constitution. In fact, most lawyers say that the process is fairly similar from state to state but the one thing is for certain no matter where you are charged and arrested for a criminal offense – talk to no one until you’ve hired an attorney. That should go without saying. If you’ve never been arrested before, it can come as quite a shock. Here is some of what you need to know.
Your Constitutional Rights
The reason you shouldn’t give any kind of statement to the police is because it can, and most often will, be used in a court of law. This is where altogether too many innocent people get themselves in hot water. Never thinking that what they say could be misconstrued, they feel they have nothing to fear since they know they are not guilty of what they are being accused of.
You have Miranda Rights protecting you under the 5th Amendment in which you don’t have to say anything that might incriminate you. If you’ve never been arrested before and have no clue what the actual crime is, how do you know what is safe to say? Therefore, only talk to an attorney and have one present when you make a statement. Your freedom could depend on it!
Call a Bail Bondsman
This is another area where many first offenders and innocent people aren’t familiar with. Many people believe that the moment they are brought into the station and booked, they can call a bail bondsman like Goldberg Bail Bonds that has bondsmen throughout the state of Minnesota. It’s easy to find them because they have so many locations, but it won’t do you any good until you’ve had a bond hearing.
That may be the same day, the next morning or even longer if it’s a weekend or holiday. Yes, you should call a bail bondsman, but don’t waste your time until you know what your bail is set at. They can do nothing for you until then and will only tell you as much.
Do You Really Only Get One Phone Call?
You have probably watched dozens of movies where the person being arrested is allowed to make only one phone call. Actually, that may or may not be the case depending on where you were arrested, the seriousness of the crime you are accused of having committed and alas, your behavior during the arrest. Actually, in most places you are granted a reasonable amount of calls because under the 6th Amendment you are entitled to legal defense the moment proceedings commence. That would be at the time of your arrest, would it not? However, taking all of the above into consideration and not being familiar with the judicial system in your locale, don’t take anything for granted. You may only get one call and you may be allowed half a dozen. You may be given bail the same day and you may need to wait a reasonable length of time until court convenes again. There are so many variables that the only thing you can be sure of is the fact that you should not speak to anyone until you’ve hired legal counsel. Your freedom could very well depend on it. Isn’t it better to always be safe than sorry?
The problem is you have to worry that police can arrest you at any time, even for out of state warrants. Luckily, there are great resources that explain how to find and clear a warrant.
With the right help and the right mindset, you can – and will – get through it. Afraid you have one? Here’s your guide to what can happen.
What is an Out of State Warrant?
A warrant is a legal document that authorizes a law enforcement officer to arrest a person. This can be an arrest or bench warrant. You’re arrested, handcuffed, and put in a holding cell before and then brought in front of the judge.
When a court finds that there is probable cause to think you have committed a crime, it issues an “arrest warrant”.
The court issues a “bench warrant” when you have broken the court’s rules. You weren’t “sitting on the bench”.
What Happens When I Get a Warrant?
If a judge decides you need to show up in court, you need to show up in court! It’s basically impossible to fight. Comply with the warrant or face severe consequences.
First the judge files legal paperwork authorizing the police to arrest you. A warrant is now issued for your arrest. Your case gets entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database. It will be available to every law enforcement officer in the country who wants to run your I.D.
Depending on the severity of the offense, you may be arrested on the spot if any cop in the country figures out who you are. The U.S. Marshals may be called upon to track you down.
What about a Misdemeanor Warrant in Another State?
A misdemeanor is a “lesser” offense. What constitutes a misdemeanor varies from state to state and even across time. If you got a warrant for a crime that used to be a felony (like marijuana possession in some states), but which is now a misdemeanor, you still have a felony warrant for your arrest!
New York generally doesn’t want to pay the expense of moving a person from California all the way across the country for a parking ticket. However, under certain circumstances, they might very well do just that! You could go to this company for information on foreign subpoenas.
The issuing agency can attach a rider to their out of state warrants for misdemeanors. Riders are special instructions listing under what circumstances they are willing to send an agent to pick up a suspect. Riders can be things like “East of the Mississippi” or “Northeastern States”. For more serious offenses, agencies are generally willing to pick up fugitives anywhere once they’re caught.
What Happens if I Have a Warrant in Another State?
There is really only one thing to do if you have a warrant in another state. Get an attorney and turn yourself in. The longer you wait, the worse the consequences will become.
When an arrest warrant is issued for you, it stops the clock on any statute of limitations. generally, they never go away. The only way to get rid of the warrant is for you, or your attorney, to show up in court.
Public defenders get a bad rap, but they really do try their best. It’s part of the profession. It’s the foundation of any attorney’s career to try and uphold justice.
Every defendant deserves a competent defense. “Competent” means a different thing when you’re paying for it, and when the person is losing money and taking time out of their day to defend you. A pro bono attorney will do his best to represent you, but he has limited resources and limited time to work on your case.
In many places in America, there aren’t even professional public defenders! If you want to stand at the bar in that court, you have to take a certain number of charity cases a year. That’s the deal.
Consider carefully the ramifications of taking a public defender to represent you in a criminal case. You will get a fair hearing, and the attorney will do his best to defend you. Your lawyer won’t have the time or the resources a paid attorney will have.
If you are arrested, you might have to wait several weeks during extradition and transport. You could lose your job if you have one, and your life will have to be put on hold until you get out.
Do Warrants Transfer From State to State?
Warrants in another state don’t stop at a physical place. Local police agencies make local arrest decisions. Federal agencies cover the entire country.
There are two important questions. Will the local authorities who have jurisdiction will arrest you? Will they agency who issued the warrant extradite you back to the place where the warrant comes from.
For any major felony crime, you’re extradited. For a minor traffic violation – unless it includes issues like serial offenses – many states won’t bother arresting you.
Several states have special rules for family crimes and sex violators. These suspects can also expect extradition, even if the crimes are not felonies.
Even if you won’t be extradited, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook! Having an outstanding warrant, even for a minor parking violation, can have major negative impacts on your life.
You may not be able to renew your driver’s license if it is a motor vehicle-related issue. Many states sign “reciprocity compacts” with other states. A traffic ticket in New Jersey follows you to Nevada, and you can expect to walk out of the DMV with an identification card and no drivers license.
Get a Lawyer, Get Right with the Law
If you fight the law, you will lose. If you know that you have an out of state warrant, get a criminal defense attorney right away and follow their advice. It’s a serious problem that only gets worse the longer you wait.
Check out our blog for all kind of tip on how to choose a good lawyer. It’s important to have the proper legal defense when you deal with this. Don’t go it alone, the clock is ticking!