What If There Is a Warrant Out for My Arrest?
Having a warrant out for your arrest can be terrifying, but you don’t need to face the experience alone. While you might feel trepidation knowing that one of the arrest warrants in Houston has your name on it, hiring an attorney can help alleviate stress and minimize unintended consequences. If there is a warrant out of your arrest, the first thing you should do is call a Houston criminal lawyer to help.
There are two main types of warrants, bench warrants and arrest warrants. The distinction is important, although it can be a bit confusing since you can be arrested if you have either an outstanding bench warrant or an arrest warrant in your name.
In general, a warrant is an order signed by a judge (usually electronically, but some jurisdictions still use paper orders) that indicates that the judge believes that enough evidence exists to bring you into custody and charge you with a crime. Prosecuting attorneys are required to convince a judge that there is a strong enough reason or that probable cause exists that you are the person who committed the crime. The judge then issues an order for your arrest.
Police officers can arrest you without a warrant, but only if they have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. They are not allowed to come on private property without an arrest warrant, whether the property be a home or business. Once an arrest warrant has been issued, the warrant will specify what you are being charged with and where the warrant may be executed. If you are presented with an arrest warrant, a criminal attorney can help by ensuring that the officers are acting under a valid warrant, and that the probable cause necessary to arrest you existed at the time it was presented to the judge who signed the warrant.
If your attorney can convince a judge that the probable cause necessary did not exist or that the attorneys or officers acted unfairly when either presenting the warrant or executing the order, then there is a chance the case against you may be dismissed.
The other common type of warrant is called a bench warrant. A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a judge requiring you to come to court. It is typically issued if you failed to show up at a hearing. For example, if you had a traffic ticket and were required to go to court to explain to the judge (usually a requirement of more serious traffic charges involving drugs or alcohol) and did not show up, then the judge would issue a bench warrant requiring you to come.
A bench warrant means that the next time you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation, or the next time you showed up at court for any reason, you would be required to come to court and explain to the judge why you missed your hearing. Additionally, bench warrants show up as a judgment on your credit, meaning it will be difficult to finance property until you have cleared the warrant by coming to court and paying fees (if any exist). Bench warrants can also be put in place if you miss important non-criminal hearings like custody hearings, eviction hearings, or debt collection hearings. Experienced criminal attorneys can help with all types of warrants, whether they be a bench warrant or an arrest warrant.