This article was updated: Feb. 2nd, 2023.
In the state of California, what should you do if you learn that a warrant has been issued for your arrest?
Will you be handcuffed – and humiliated – in front of your family, neighbors, or co-workers? Will a criminal defense attorney be able to help?
Anyone can be falsely accused of committing a crime, so keep reading to learn about your rights and options if there is ever an arrest warrant in this state with your name on it.
In Southern California, the one thing that you must do if you learn that there is a warrant for your arrest is to speak immediately with an experienced Long Beach criminal defense attorney.
Every criminal charge and every warrant is different, so you’ll need the personalized advice and guidance that a defense lawyer can provide.
If you are startled to learn that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, a California criminal defense lawyer can find out what the charges are – and the bail amount – before you are unexpectedly taken into custody without being prepared.
Whether the warrant for your arrest is serious or is essentially a trivial matter, your attorney will explain precisely what you will need to do to clear it up.
WHY NOT JUST TURN YOURSELF IN?
Do not turn yourself in to the police without first obtaining a defense attorney’s advice. When you are taken into custody by the police, it may be hours before you are able to reach a lawyer or anyone else on the outside.
If you are on parole or probation, or if there is another charge or warrant pending against you, even more will be at stake, so you must adhere to your defense attorney’s recommendations.
In this state, what’s called a “bench warrant” orders the police to make an arrest, but what is commonly called an “arrest warrant” is a somewhat different document.
A bench warrant is usually issued for something like a failure to appear in court, the failure to pay a fine, or the failure to comply with another court order.
In California, a bench warrant requires the police to take someone into custody and directly into the courtroom. A California bench warrant is often dealt with through a legal process that attorneys call “recalling and quashing” – that is, clearing – the warrant.
If you are arrested on a bench warrant in southern California, contact a Long Beach criminal defense attorney – and get the legal help you need – as quickly as you can.
HOW ARE ARREST WARRANTS DISTINCT FROM BENCH WARRANTS?
Unlike a bench warrant, an “arrest” warrant is issued because someone is being charged with committing a crime.
Arrest warrants are issued when prosecutors and/or police authorities present a judge with persuasive evidence that a crime has been committed and that the person named in the warrant should be arrested and charged with the crime.
To have an arrest warrant issued, the police and/or the prosecutor must have “probable cause” to believe the person they seek has committed a crime.
Probable cause is evidence, not merely a hunch or a guess. If the judge agrees that there is probable cause to believe this person has committed a crime, the judge will issue and sign the arrest warrant.
An arrest warrant in California may be “served” at a suspect’s home or place of work. When the police stop a motorist in traffic, an arrest can be made on the spot based on an outstanding arrest warrant.
If someone leaves the state upon learning that a bench or arrest warrant with his or her name is pending, that person will be considered a fugitive.
HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH A WARRANT?
The best way to deal with any warrant is to deal with it straightforwardly and immediately. Do not flee the state to avoid a warrant. You could be apprehended almost anywhere, extradited, and face serious additional charges.
Have the matter resolved the right way. Be represented by a Long Beach criminal defense attorney who routinely advocates for defendants who are named in bench warrants and arrest warrants.
Once you have the services of a good criminal defense lawyer, your lawyer can tell law enforcement authorities that you are now represented by counsel, and your lawyer will arrange for you to turn yourself in.
You will be saved from the aggravation and embarrassment of an unnecessary arrest, and you’ll have the important advice you need before the legal process begins.
If you believe that you are suspected of a crime, whether or not an arrest warrant has been issued, a criminal defense lawyer can sometimes “get in front of” the case and keep an arrest warrant from being issued or charges from being filed.
Some investigations can be concluded with no arrest, no warrant, and no charges. Your attorney may uncover evidence or witnesses who can prove that you were wrongly accused.
WHAT IF THE POLICE HAVE QUESTIONS? SHOULD YOU ANSWER THEM?
If the police want to interrogate you regarding a crime – either before or after placing you under arrest – do not consent to an interview or provide a statement.
We all have a natural impulse to “explain” ourselves and “clear up” problems, but when the police are involved, don’t. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, anything you say can be used against you.
So let your attorney do the talking on your behalf.
The most important thing to remember when there is a warrant for your arrest – or if you are under investigation for a crime – is that you must not speak to the police without having your attorney at your side.
Simply and politely tell the police something like, “I would prefer to exercise my right to remain silent until I can consult with my attorney.”
If you are placed under arrest and prosecuted for a crime in Southern California, a qualified Long Beach criminal defense attorney can investigate every detail of the charges; examine witnesses and gather evidence on your behalf; cast doubt on the state’s case against you; protect your legal rights; and fight aggressively for the justice you need and deserve.
And if there is a warrant for your arrest – or if you believe there is – get legal help at once. It’s your right.