If you have ever been accused of a crime or missed a court date, you may have wondered: can a lawyer clear a warrant?
The answer is not as simple as you might think.
Depending on the type of warrant, the severity of the offense, and the jurisdiction, a lawyer may or may not be able to help you get rid of a warrant without you having to appear in court.
In this article, we will explain what a warrant is, how to find out if you have one, and how a lawyer can help you clear a warrant in some cases.
What is a warrant?
A warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to perform certain actions, such as arresting, searching, or seizing someone or something.
There are different types of warrants, such as:
- Arrest warrant: This is a warrant that allows the police to arrest a person who is suspected of committing a crime or violating a court order. An arrest warrant may be issued based on probable cause, an indictment, or a complaint filed by the prosecutor or the victim.
- Search warrant: This is a warrant that allows the police to search a specific place for evidence of a crime. A search warrant may be issued based on probable cause, an affidavit, or testimony from a witness or an informant.
- Bench warrant: This is a warrant that is issued by a judge when a person fails to appear in court as required. A bench warrant may be issued for missing a trial, a hearing, or a payment deadline. A bench warrant may also be issued for violating the terms of probation, parole, or bail.
How to find out if you have a warrant?
If you suspect that you have a warrant for your arrest or search, you should act quickly to find out and resolve it.
Ignoring or avoiding a warrant can lead to more serious consequences, such as higher fines, longer jail time, or additional charges.
Here are some ways to find out if you have a warrant:
- Search online: Some courts and law enforcement agencies have online databases that allow you to search for warrants by name, date of birth, case number, or other criteria. You can visit the website of your local court, sheriff’s office, or police department and look for a link to search for warrants. Alternatively, you can use a search engine and type in your name and the phrase “arrest warrant” or “bench warrant” along with your location.
- Call the court clerk: If you cannot find an online database or if you need more information about your case, you can call the court clerk directly and ask if you have a warrant. You may need to provide your name, date of birth, social security number, or case number. The court clerk may be able to tell you why you have a warrant, how much bail you need to pay, and how to clear it. However, some cases may be confidential or restricted, such as juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, or family law cases. In these cases, the court clerk may not be able to give you detailed information about your case.
- Call the National Crime Information Center (NCIC): The NCIC is a federal database that contains information about criminal records and warrants from all states and territories. You can call the NCIC at (304) 625-2000 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time and ask them to check if you have a warrant. You may need to provide your name, date of birth, social security number, or other identifiers.
- Use a non-government web service: There are some private websites that offer to do a warrant search for you for a fee. These websites may claim to have access to public records and databases from various sources. However, these websites may not be reliable, accurate, or up-to-date. They may also charge you hidden fees or sell your personal information to third parties. Therefore, it is advisable to use caution and do your research before using these services.
How can a lawyer clear a warrant?
If you find out that you have a warrant for your arrest or search, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you clear a warrant in some cases by:
- Negotiating with the prosecutor: A lawyer can contact the prosecutor and try to persuade them to drop the charges against you or reduce them to lesser offenses. A lawyer can also try to arrange for you to surrender yourself voluntarily and avoid being arrested by the police. This can show the court that you are cooperative and remorseful and increase your chances of getting lenient treatment.
- Filing motions with the court: A lawyer can file motions with the court and ask them to quash (cancel) or recall (withdraw) the warrant. A lawyer can also ask the court to modify the terms of the warrant, such as reducing the bail amount, allowing you to travel, or granting you a continuance (postponement) of your court date. A lawyer can also challenge the validity or legality of the warrant, such as arguing that it was issued without probable cause, that it was too vague or broad, or that it violated your constitutional rights.
- Representing you in court: A lawyer can represent you in court and defend you against the charges that led to the warrant. A lawyer can also help you plead guilty or not guilty, negotiate a plea bargain, request a diversion program, or go to trial. A lawyer can also help you present evidence, witnesses, or mitigating factors that can support your case and reduce your sentence.
However, a lawyer may not be able to clear a warrant in some cases, such as:
- Felony warrants: These are warrants for serious crimes that carry a potential sentence of more than one year in prison. Felony warrants are usually not eligible for quashing or recalling without the person appearing in court. The court may also require the person to post a high bail amount or remain in custody until the case is resolved.
- Out-of-state warrants: These are warrants that are issued by another state or jurisdiction. Out-of-state warrants may be difficult to clear without the person traveling to the issuing state and appearing in court. The person may also face extradition (transfer) to the issuing state if they are arrested by the police in their current state.
- Federal warrants: These are warrants that are issued by a federal court for federal crimes. Federal warrants may be hard to clear without the person appearing in federal court. The person may also face arrest by federal agents or local authorities who cooperate with them.
In conclusion, can a lawyer clear a warrant? The answer is that it depends on the circumstances. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to help you clear a warrant without you having to appear in court. In other cases, a lawyer may not be able to do so and you may have to face the consequences of your warrant. Therefore, it is important to find out if you have a warrant and consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can advise you on your options and help you deal with your warrant in the best possible way.