Having a warrant for your arrest is no laughing matter. This article will explain what a bench warrant is, and what to do.
Bench warrants are the most common kind of warrants. They happen after you’ve violated the rules of court. It’s a written order issued by a judge. It authorizes the police to bring you in. First to jail – then to appear in court. The police treat it like an arrest warrant, and will use it to bring you to in front of a judge. Bench warrant means the police will not knock on your door looking for you. The bench warrant puts your name in a statewide database. If you are in contact with the police for any reason – even if it’s not your fault, the police will run your name – and take you into custody.
If you have any contact with the police, or if you attempt to renew your drivers license, you’ll be arrested, handcuffed, and put in jail – until a bond is paid.
Can I avoid the bench warrant?
Often, many people who contact our NYC bench warrant lawyers are unaware they even have a bench warrant. The easiest way to avoid getting arrested is to avoid trouble. Having a bench warrant doesn’t mean you’re a criminal. It means the judge wants to talk to you. The bench warrant is sent to your address, and if you don’t respond, then the judge issues a bench warrant. If the courts don’t have your correct address, they will not attempt to get the correct one. They simply mail the paperwork to the address they have on file. Then, next time you get pulled over, your name will be through the system by police officers who have pulled you over.
If you have a warrant, you will then be taken into custody, and held until you pay the bond, or until a time where the judge sees you.
What not to do
Don’t argue with the police. If you’re allowed to post bond, you’ll be given an appointment to go speak to the judge. The judge may ask you questions, i.e. why you didn’t come to court, or pay what you owe. Courts aren’t unreasonable – they will work with you. Many people don’t know they have a warrant until they are pulled over. If you’re pulled over, don’t argue with the police. They will tell you what they can to the best of their knowledge. You have nothing to gain by arguing. You will have to go to jail. If you argue, things only get worse. If you need to make a phone, and you’re being cooperative, the police officer will allow you to use your phone.
If you had someone in your vehicle with you, and they have a license, then that person’s license will be checked before letting you drive. If you’re alone, then the vehicle will be towed and impounded. You will be taken to the closest police station and booked. You will need to change into jail clothes depending on your county. If you tell the police your bond will be paid ASAP, then you may not need to change. You will be searched as a part of the process. Once you are bonded, and released, you will be given a bill for your jail stay. This is a booking fee. You are charged for a full day’s stay at the jail, even if you don’t eat your food. This has to be paid, or another warrant can be issued.
Do not hide if you find out there’s a warrant for your arrest. If you discover there’s a warrant for your arrest, then call the courthouse and ask what its about. You will be told about outstanding fines. These can be taken care of by paying them, or setting up an appointment to speak to a judge to make arrangements. Depending on the reason for the warrant, you might have to turn yourself into the police. Courts will look favorably on the fact your reaching out to them and taking responsibility.
Come to court
If you decide to see the judge, you’ll be given an appointment. Make sure you have your paperwork in order. Arrive early, so the bailiff is aware and can inform the judge about your presence. Your name will be called, and you’ll get to speak to the judge. Don’t raise your voice or yell. If you have proof that the charges are false – then now is the time. You will give paperwork to the bailiff, and if the judge feels the evidence is correct – then the charges will be dismissed.
Make your payment
If the judge decides you owe money, then judge will ask you to pay. You will be given an amount to pay, and a date to have it paid. Make every effort to make these payments on time.
Anyone who watches television has witnessed actors portraying police officers reading Miranda Rights to criminals and innocent bystanders as they’re arrested for allegedly committing a crime. If you watch enough television, you might even find yourself muttering the beginning part of the Miranda Rights. These are basic rights offered to all people upon their arrest, and they relay to you the information you have the right to remain silent because anything you say can be used against you in court. This drives many people to speak nothing without the presence of an attorney in their arrest case, which seems like the right thing to do. What happens if you choose to say nothing and remain silent? Can that be used against you?
Why Can Silence be Used Against Me?
No. Your silence cannot be used against you. It’s far better to stay silent than to deny or admit to a crime. Saying nothing leaves police officers with nothing to use against you other than to tell a court of law you said nothing to them until your attorney was present. This is your right, and there is nothing they can use about your silence to help their case. Your silence is noted, but remaining quiet in a situation such as this is neither a denial or admission of guilt or innocence. Always remain silent until you have the opportunity to contact an attorney and have your case heard.
When your case is taken to a courtroom to be heard in front of a jury, the judge on the case is legally obligated to inform the jury your silence on the matter cannot be used for or against you when your case is heard. If you choose to stay silent as you are rightfully entitled to do, you are not causing yourself any harm.
Why Remain Silent?
Your right to remain silent is your right to avoid self-incrimination. You might not think anything you say is incriminating, but sometimes the way police officers or interrogators phrase questions is designed to trick you into saying something you might not want to say. The only thing to say to police when you are questioned or when you are under arrest is your attorney advised you to say nothing without him or her present.
Your attorney is present to help you say nothing incriminating. Even things you don’t view as incriminating could be. You don’t know what officers know, what evidence they already have, or how they are trying to get you to confess to something you might not even be aware of. The presence of an attorney means all questions are vetted by the attorney and you are then encouraged to answer them as the attorney grants you permission. This is the best way to ensure you say nothing that can be used against you.
For example, if you are arrested for physical assault you did not commit, saying you were mad at the person accusing you of assault but that you didn’t touch them is not so much an admission of innocence as it is a validation you were angry and had the motive. This is why saying nothing is the best course of action. You and your attorney will discuss the questions and situation, and you will come up with the best responses together. There is no reason for you to speak until you’ve contacted an attorney.
If you are arrested and charged with any crimes, it’s time to call an attorney. Your job is to make sure the attorney is able to help your case, and you can do that by saying nothing. Those who are unfamiliar with the law want to help and show police officers they didn’t do anything wrong and while that’s commendable, it’s not the best course of action. Speak to an attorney to find out what you should say, what you should do, and how you should exercise the rights given to you during your arrest. There are many rights and statements given during the time a person is arrested, and it’s not always easy to understand precisely what they mean if you have little to no experience with the law.
What if they never “read me my rights”
Years of watching television shows and movies with dramatic arrest scenes have led people to believe that police officers need to “read them their rights” during an arrest. That’s a misconception, and it’s unlikely that a judge will throw out a case simply because of that. Even if the police didn’t read you your rights, there are only a limited number of situations where that will come into play.
We have many rights afforded to us by the Constitution, but the rights that people expect from the police are their Miranda Rights. These include your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. The right to remain silent prevents the police from forcing you to talk and incriminate yourself. The right to an attorney means that you’re entitled to an attorney, whether or not you’re able to afford one.
The only time that an officer needs to read you your Miranda rights are when you’re in police custody and going to be interrogated. Police custody means that you’ve actually been arrested, so if an officer pulls you over or approaches you on the street and asks you something, you’re not in custody. In an interrogation, the police question you to attempt to get you to make an incriminating statement.
The only time that a failure to read you your Miranda Rights will be a factor in your case is if you confessed to something, and the prosecution is using that against you. In that situation, your defense attorney can use the fact that you weren’t read your rights to file a motion to suppress, which means that the confession can’t be used against you. If your confession was a significant part of the prosecution’s case, then it could lead to the charges being dropped for insufficient evidence.
Here are a few examples to illustrate the difference in when police need to read you your Miranda Rights and when they don’t:
An officer pulls you over and arrests you for driving under the influence. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is well over the legal limit. The officer doesn’t need to read you your Miranda Rights, because they’re not interrogating you. Even if they did interrogate you without reading you your rights and you confessed, the prosecution would still be able to move forward with the case because they have sufficient evidence in the form of your breathalyzer results or blood test. The confession isn’t a necessary part of their case.
An officer pulls you over because your car matches the description of one that was used in a robbery. You make an incriminating statement to the officer. Since you weren’t in custody yet, this statement can be used against you even though the officer hadn’t read you your rights yet.
The police arrest you for a crime and interrogate you, but forget to read you your rights. During the interrogation, you confess. Your defense attorney could most likely have this confession suppressed so it can’t be used against you, because of the failure to read you your rights before obtaining it.
As you can see, for most cases, you won’t be able to get off simply because no one read you your Miranda Rights.
One important thing to remember about your Miranda Rights is that you have them for a reason. Despite being read their rights, many people still choose to try talking their way out of a bad situation and only end up making it worse. When the police are interrogating you, they’re not trying to help you. They’re trying to elicit incriminating evidence that the prosecution will be able to use against you. If the police are interrogating you, the only thing you should tell them is that you will be remaining silent, and you want to speak to a lawyer.
When a police officer pulls a person over on a traffic stop, he or she is being detained and not arrested. A lawful detention can lead to an arrest if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the detainee has committed or is in the process of committing a crime. A traffic stop for no reason other than to investigate somebody isn’t permitted though. That’s how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Delaware vs. Prouse in 1979, and that ruling has been the law since then.
The discretionary spot check for a traffic stop
Prouse was pulled over on a traffic stop for purposes of a routine check on his driver’s license and registration. The arresting officer hadn’t witnessed Prouse commit any traffic violations, there were equipment violations, and the officer hadn’t observed any suspicious conduct. No established guidelines or procedures governed the stop. While approaching the car during the stop the officer purportedly smelled marijuana, and a search revealed marijuana on the floor of Prouse vehicle. That marijuana was later used to indict Prouse. At issue was whether the discretionary spot check and search of Prouse’s vehicle was an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If you are pulled over because you were vaping an e-liquid vs marijuana, it can make the difference.
The Prouse holding
In a nearly unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that random spot checks without established guidelines and procedures at a police officer’s sole discretion constituted an unlawful seizure. Police officers could not randomly stop a driver without probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that a crime was in progress or had been committed.
The reasonable articulable suspicion
A police officer is permitted to make a traffic stop if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation or crime has been or is being committed. Pulling that vehicle over allows the officer an opportunity to make a brief and reasonable inquiry into a driver’s behavior. There are many different reasons for a police officer to pull a vehicle over. Those might be traffic or equipment violations or even criminal activity, but the reason for the stop can’t be the police officer’s subjective perceptions. There must be objective facts and circumstances that reasonably resulted in a reasonable articulable suspicion.
There are three general legal guidelines for when a police officer can search a vehicle during a traffic stop.
The easiest way for a police officer to search a vehicle is pursuant to consent. He or she might ask to search a vehicle, and permission might be given. Consenting to a search isn’t mandatory, but if consent is given, it’s likely that the entire vehicle will be searched one way or another.
If the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you’re hiding something that’s dangerous or illegal, he or she has a legal basis for a search of the vehicle. Depending on what state you’re in, that might include a locked glove compartment and trunk. Motor vehicles are mobile, and evidence can be quickly transported or disposed of. An exception to the Fourth Amendment exists because of those factors.
The search warrant
Most motor vehicle searches are either consensual or pursuant to a reasonable suspicion. If an officer wants to go by the book, he or she can deposit a person in a safe place like the back seat of a squad car. Another officer can swear out the affidavit for a search warrant and present it to a judge. It can then be driven out to where the person is being detained.
Remember that that a traffic stop is a mere detention. You haven’t been placed under arrest, but being detained can lead to an arrest. The general rule is that you can’t be pulled over without a legally valid reason like a traffic or equipment violation. If the officer has a reasonable articulable belief that a crime has been or is being committed, that’s a legal basis for a traffic stop. A motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence illegally seized was a powerful tool for William Prouse. That type of motion might be successful in your case too. Never give a confession. Invoke your right to an attorney. Call us as soon as possible after any arrest.
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