Criminal defense cases cover both criminal suits — charges brought by the government to punish an individual for an act classified as a crime — and civil suits — claims brought by individuals or organizations as a dispute over rights and duties.
A common phone call we receive in our law office begins with, “There is a warrant out for my arrest, what do I do?”. The answer depends on what type of warrant it is and whether the warrant is related to a felony or misdemeanor criminal offense.
There are different kinds of warrants. There are capias warrants (more commonly referred to as bench warrants) and there are initial arrest warrants. Capias warrants (i.e. warrants for failing to appear in court) are issued by a judge after a case has already been on file and can be cancelled by appearing in court in front of the judge who issued the warrant. Initial arrest warrants are issued when there is probable cause that an individual committed a criminal offense; however, that person was not arrested at the scene of the crime. Initial arrest warrants typically cannot be cancelled by appearing in court, rather the person with the outstanding warrant must turn himself or herself in to the authorities and be booked into jail.
If you know you have an outstanding criminal warrant, it is always a good idea to get it cancelled or turn yourself in. Beyond the fact that it is the right thing to do, it also looks better in the eyes of the law. With that said, you should consult with your criminal lawyer prior to taking care of the warrant, as your attorney will be able to walk you through the process and minimize any time you may spend in custody.