If there is a warrant for your arrest, don’t panic. An arrest warrant is an allegation—a formal claim or accusation against you—it is not proof of wrongdoing and it is not a conviction. You are presumed innocent, and the charge against you may be dismissed. The important thing is to remain calm so that you don’t unintentionally make your situation more complicated than necessary.
Check on Warrant Status at the LA County Public Defender’s Office
If you’re unsure of whether there’s a warrant for your arrest, the Los Angeles County public defender’s office recommends calling one of its locations near you and providing the receptionist with your full name and date of birth. It’s better to work with an attorney to deal with a warrant than to ignore it, the office says.
Talk to a Bail Agent
When someone is arrested, he or she is held in jail until their court date unless a judge releases the person on recognizance or on a set amount of bail. The bail money acts as a condition of release, a sort of insurance that the accused will return to court as the case moves forward. Depending on the severity of the charge, bail can be set at a high amount. If you’re financially unable to post that amount, a bail agent or bail bondsman can help.
A knowledgeable bail agent or bonding company can estimate what your bail is likely to be based on the charge and other factors such as your criminal history, residential history, and employment history. The agent or bondsman also will need to know who will pay or cosign your bond.
Control Your Surrender
You can arrange how and when you will surrender to authorities. If you’re represented, an attorney can assist coordinating this with local police or the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which maintains the jail system.
Although it’s tempting to take your phone and wallet with you, these items are subject to search and will be confiscated at the jail. Do not wear expensive clothing or taking along valuable personal items. You should bring identification and perhaps a small amount of cash for a jail commissary account, so you can buy snacks and other items while you’re there.
In an area as highly populated as Los Angeles County, there might not be a best time to turn yourself in. But in general, expect that the nights and weekends will be much busier than weekday mornings. The earlier in the week that you surrender, the greater likelihood you’ll have a faster processing time and a quicker arraignment after your arrest.
Consult With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
You’ll first want to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney so that you can make arrangements to deal with the warrant. You have a right to remain silent during questioning so that you don’t make any statements that could be used against you. Hiring an attorney before you turn yourself in ensures that you’ll have someone you trust already with you who can discuss your case and give you specific advice.
If you have additional questions about handling an arrest warrant, or if you’d like to discuss your situation further, the Parsanj Law Group is here for you. Please fill out the contact form for a free consultation, or call (818) 273-1360.