How to Get Rid of a Warrant

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An open warrant with your name on it can create a host of problems, from the suspension of your driving privileges to temporary incarceration. Unfortunately, dealing with a warrant is far from an easy task, as it requires in-depth knowledge of the law.

On that account, this post attempts to underline everything you need to know about dealing with a warrant, from the different types of warrants you can encounter to how to get rid of a warrant.

How to Get Rid of a Warrant

The best way to get rid of a warrant is to have an experienced criminal attorney represent you in court. It’s possible to deal with the situation without an attorney, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

What Are the Different Types of Warrants?

There are two types of warrants you might encounter: bench warrants and arrest warrants.

They’re different from one another in terms of the misdemeanors or crimes they’re intended for. They’re also different when it comes to the arrest-making process.

Bench Warrants

Bench warrants are issued against those who have committed court violations. The reason they’re called “bench” warrants is that they’re issued by a judge, and the judge’s seating place is called a bench.

When a bench warrant is issued by a judge, the name of the defendant is then added to law enforcement databases so that law enforcement officers may arrest the defendant.

With a bench warrant, the police don’t actively seek out the defendant. However, if the defendant is coincidentally stopped by a police officer for a non-related violation, like a traffic violation, they’ll be brought in until they appear in court for their warrant.

Bench warrants are typically issued against those who fail to comply with a court order. This is known as failure to appear.

Other court violations that can lead to a bench warrant include:

  • Failure to pay alimony
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Disparaging the court.

Arrest Warrants

Arrest warrants differ from bench warrants as they’re issued in connection with criminal activities and investigations.

As soon as an arrest warrant is issued, law enforcement officers may begin purposely seeking out the name on the warrant.

It’s worth pointing out that an arrest warrant cannot be issued without the signature of a judge. For a judge to sign an affidavit for an arrest warrant, the following pieces of information must be reviewed:

  • The name and location of the perpetrator/arrestee
  • The crime on which the investigation is based
  • The probable cause associated with the perpetrator

If the judge doesn’t find the probable cause convincing, the affidavit, along with the warrant request, is dismissed!

How Does an Active Warrant Affect You?

Having an active warrant out for you can cause a lot of inconveniences. For starters, the MVD will suspend your driving privileges. If you get pulled over by an officer while there’s a warrant out for you, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor known as driving on a suspended license.

So, not only will you be taken in for the warrant that’s out for you, but you’ll also be charged with a criminal misdemeanor! What’s more, you might be liable for insurance increases.

Please bear in mind that a police officer doesn’t have to see you committing a driving violation to pull you over. If an officer scans your license plate and finds out that it has been suspended due to an open warrant, they’ll pull you over and bring you in.

With that being said, if you know there’s an active warrant out for you, you should definitely avoid driving! The active warrant is already causing enough problems, so don’t add to them by driving on a suspended license.

Another inconvenience is the process of dealing with the warrant. There are quite a few ways to deal with a warrant, and if you don’t have an experienced lawyer by your side, chances are you’ll make a decision that will negatively affect the quality of your life at some point.

How to Get Rid of an Open Warrant

The process of quashing or getting rid of a warrant tends to vary from one court to another. Each judge may have their own way of dealing with an open warrant. One judge may require paying a bond, whereas another judge may require paying any fines that might be associated with the warrant.

If you’re going to deal with the warrant on your own, you should start by calling the court and inquiring about how they deal with warrants. You should also inquire about the requirements for quashing a warrant. Knowing these details will help you plan your next move properly.

We don’t recommend taking things into your own hands by dealing with a warrant on your own, though. Whether you’re dealing with a bench or an arrest warrant, your best bet is to hire an experienced attorney. This is especially recommended if you’re living out of state.

If you, the defendant, hire an attorney to represent you in court, the court may simply quash the warrant and proceed with the case. Note, however, that some courts may require filing a motion to quash the warrant.

Note also that some courts may require a personal appearance from you in order to quash the warrant. This can be problematic if you’re out of state. In this case, if you don’t personally appear in court, the only other option you’ll have is to plead guilty or enter a plea agreement.

Some courts may require a cash bond in order to quash a warrant. The amount varies depending on the case. If we’re talking about a misdemeanor, you’ll most likely pay around $500.

How to Check If You Have an Open Warrant

There are many ways you can check whether or not there’s an active warrant with your name on it, including:

  • Online Local Records – Checking your state’s online local records is the easiest way to know if you have an open warrant. If the state’s local records are a dead end, check the county or court’s local records. Such websites usually end with .gov or .org domains.
  • U.S. Circuit Court – Another effective way to check if you have an open warrant is to simply call the U.S. Circuit court. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to identify yourself on the call, which can be risky if, in fact, there’s a warrant out for you.
  • Local Police Department – Calling your local department is another effective yet risky way of inquiring about active warrants. You’ll be required to identify yourself on the call, and if there’s an arrest warrant out for you, the PD can trace the call, find out your location, and take you into custody.
  • Bail Bondsman – Having a bail bondsman check with your local court is a safe and easy way to check if there’s a warrant out for you. Bail bondsmen typically have access to court computers, so they should be able to find out the required information without any problems.
  • Warrant Attorney – In our opinion, the safest and most effective way to check if you have an active warrant is to resort to an experienced warrant attorney. If there actually is an open warrant out for you, the attorney will be of great help as they’ll tell you how you should deal with the situation.

Can You Pay Off a Warrant to Quash It?

The answer to this question depends on the reason behind the warrant. If the warrant is issued due for a reason such as a speeding ticket or some outstanding payments, you may be able to quash the warrant by simply paying it off.

Per contra, if the reason behind the warrant is more serious, like a connection to a criminal investigation, then you can’t pay off the warrant to quash it. Generally speaking, you can’t quash a warrant by paying it off if the underlying reason for the warrant is a felony crime.

Do Outstanding Warrants Expire?

Once again, the answer to this question boils down to the reason behind the warrant. However, the vast majority of warrants that are issued for felony crimes don’t expire.

On the other hand, warrants that are issued for trivial misdemeanor crimes tend to expire after a while. Some expire after 180 days, whereas others expire after a full year.

Bear in mind that some warrants—mostly arrest warrants—can stick to a person’s record for many years and can show up in a pre-employment background check or a routine traffic stop.

Can You Have a Warrant Without Committing a Crime?

The answer is yes. Though this is a rare occurrence, you can have an arrest warrant out for you without directly committing a crime, which can happen for a few reasons.

The first reason is a mistaken identity situation, where you’re mistakenly viewed as a suspect in a crime. The second reason is that you might be viewed as an accessory to a crime.

If there’s an active warrant with your name on even though you didn’t commit a crime, you’ll still be taken into custody until the warrant is cleared. In this case, your best bet is to talk to a criminal lawyer.

In Summary

Getting rid of an active warrant isn’t a walk in the park, especially if you’re dealing with an arrest warrant rather than a bench warrant.

The best course of action after learning about a warrant that has your name on it is to speak to an experienced lawyer. A lawyer will assess the situation and figure out how to get you out of it with minimal damage.

It’s especially important to hire an attorney if you’re out of state and you can’t appear personally in court. In this case, your attorney will appear on your behalf.

If you decide to go the no-lawyer route, which we don’t recommend, you’ll need to call the court and inquire about the requirements for quashing a warrant.

If you’re not sure whether or not there’s an active warrant out for you, there are many ways you can check, including checking online local records, contacting the U.S. Circuit Court, checking with your local PD, contacting a bail bondsman, and hiring a warrant attorney.