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Responding to an arrest warrant

The idea that there's an arrest warrant out there for you is probably gut-wrenching. It's no fun looking over your shoulder all the time, wondering if the police are going to show up at your job or worried you'll make a small mistake in traffic and end up in jail when the officer checks your license.

That's exactly what can happen, though, if there's a bench warrant out with your name on it. Warrants are routinely issued for things like the failure to show up for jury duty, the failure to show up to court for a traffic violation (including minor accidents) and even when the police want to question you in connection with a crime.

If you believe that a warrant has been issued for you, these are the steps you want to take:

1. Confirm the information.

Unless you want to be arrested on the spot, you can't directly ask a police officer or walk into the police department and ask. Nor are you able to look up warrant information online -- they aren't considered public information. You may be able to confirm the information by phone, so it is worth trying. However, the best way to confirm the existence of an arrest warrant is to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance. An attorney can find out if there is a warrant and advise you properly from there.

2. Arrange to turn yourself in.

If you've hired a defense attorney, your attorney will make the arrangements. Hopefully, he or she will also be able to negotiate bail at the same time. That would allow you to go through booking and be released without spending more than a few hours at the jail.

If you arrange things on your own, make sure that you know where to go and whom to ask for when you get there. Try to find out how much money you will need to post your bail, and how long you may have to stay behind bars before you can bail out.

While dealing with this issue isn't pleasant, consider it an opportunity. You can handle things in a controlled manner -- far away from your home and job. If the issue is relatively small, you may be able to resolve the problem quickly and get back to your life -- without the threat of a warrant over your head.

Source: AboutBail, "What to Do If You Think There is a Warrant Out For Your Arrest," Eric Almquist, accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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