Wednesday, March 30, 2016


It's best to take action now
so you won't be arrested later.

It's the gift that keeps on giving, that old arrest warrant you may have forgotten about but that somehow never forgets you. Even if the alleged misconduct embodied in the warrant was years ago that warrant is in the database of every major police agency in the United States. If you're stopped for a ticket or hit in an accident or report a crime the police officer who talks to you has access to the fact that there's a Judge in Pinellas County, Florida waiting to see you. And that police officer is apt to take immediate action by arresting you, in fact depending on the alleged misconduct in some jurisdictions the officer could be punished for not arresting you.

Before this era of fast information computing it may have occasionally been possible for a misdemeanor or even a nonviolent felony warrant to casually slip thru the mountainous warrant paperwork. Not any more. Today that incident from a barely remembered Florida vacation will eventually have to be faced. The question is will you choose the moment to face it or will there be a random arrest when you least expect it at the worst possible time.

You may be wondering what is an arrest warrant? An arrest warrant is the written manifestation that there exists probable cause to believe you have committed a crime and that you must answer for it. The underlying truth of the alleged criminal act is not at issue. The only attributes of the warrant that can be attacked are the validity of the warrant and the underlying identification of you as the target of the warrant. 

In practice this means that if there is an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor simple battery charge or a felony possession of drugs charge it's not possible to attack the facts and circumstances of the underlying battery or possession of drugs until after you turn yourself in on the arrest warrant. That's because a hearing of the facts of the case can not begin until every party in the case including the defendant are actually before the judge. One way to think of an arrest warrant is that it's an unavoidable invitation to become a party to a criminal case. But if your name, date of birth or other identifying characteristics are wrong then a judge may look to the warrant to see if it is actually for you. Further, a warrant may be attacked directly or prosecutors may withdraw an arrest warrant if it can be established that law enforcement officers made no reasonable effort over an extended amount of time to actually enforce the warrant.

What should you do if there is a warrant for your arrest from Pinellas County, Florida? As a criminal defense lawyer I look to the following factors in accessing what to do next: the severity of the charged offense, the length of time since the offense and the integrity of all of the identifying information on the warrant. If the charge is not too serious or nonviolent it's likely possible to schedule a time for you to turn yourself into the authorities and later attend a hearing where the judge and prosecutor formally attend to the merits of the case. Once you've become a party to the case then the case will end either in dismissal, plea or trial by jury. My goals for you will be to find the best possible solution not only in disposing of the warrant but also in finding the best solution to the underlying allegations of criminal misconduct.

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