It can be extremely frightening and totally disorienting to learn that a warrant has been issued that allows the police to place you under arrest at any time. Sometimes it might be clear to you why a warrant has been issued, but other times you might be totally confused about why the police are seeking you out. Further complicating things is the fact that the warrant could be a regular arrest warrant or a bench warrant, and your response should be different depending on which one it is. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson & Bugden explain the difference between these two types of warrants, how you should react to each one to best mitigate the damage, and what we can do to help.
Bench Warrants for Your Arrest in Salt Lake City
A bench warrant is a type of warrant issued by a judge on their own, without an application from a police officer or anyone else. Most commonly, bench warrants are issued in response to your failure to show up in court for a required appearance. Judges can also choose to issue them if you fall behind on child support, fail to pay fines and fees assessed by the court on time, or fail to appear as a witness when subpoenaed, as well as for a few other reasons. Bench warrants are different than ordinary arrest warrants because a bench warrant is not issued because you committed a new crime. Instead, a bench warrant is issued because you failed to appear in court or violated a court order.
Once a judge has issued a bench warrant against you, you can be arrested by the police at any time. However, unlike with normal arrest warrants, the police typically do not actively seek you out to place you under arrest for a bench warrant. Rather, the warrant is entered into the system, shared with other counties and states, and any time you interact with the police, even for a minor traffic matter, they will run a warrant check. If an outstanding warrant in your name appears, you will be placed under arrest and transferred to the proper jurisdiction to answer for it.
How to Handle a Bench Warrant for Your Arrest in Salt Lake City
If you learn that you have a bench warrant in your name, you should try to handle the issue immediately. While law enforcement likely will not come to your home or known whereabouts to act on a bench warrant, you should not use this as an excuse to ignore the issue. Bench warrants can linger for years, and you do not want to be unexpectedly arrested weeks or months later.
The most painless way to deal with a warrant is to take care of it before you end up getting arrested. You can do this by contacting an experienced bench warrant attorney like those at Overson & Bugden. We can reach out to the prosecutor and court staff to try to work out a deal where you can turn yourself in and face the judge without being arrested. Then, we can work to get the warrant quashed by the judge with no further penalties assessed.
If all goes well, we can have your court date rescheduled and the bench warrant will be dropped or recalled. However, at your next court appearance, you will likely be asked by the judge to explain your prior absence. A good reason you missed court is important because it lets the judge know you made a mistake, but you are not irresponsible or unreliable. If the judge perceives you as irresponsible or unreliable, they may be less inclined to consider more lenient sentencing options like probation, which require you to cooperate with court orders.
How Do I Get a Bench Warrant for My Arrest Dropped in Salt Lake City?
You may be able to have a bench warrant recalled by a judge under certain circumstances. For example, if you had an urgent matter to attend to while you were supposed to be present in court, this may be a viable explanation to explain your absence. However, the court will look at a number of factors to determine whether you should be granted a bench warrant recall. For instance, if you violated the conditions of your bail in a previous case, this could affect your ability to have your warrant recalled.
A judge might be more understanding of your absence from court if it was due to a true emergency or some other circumstances beyond your control. However, if your absence is due to some reason within your control, you may be out of luck. For example, a judge might understand if the morning of your court date you suddenly had to take your child to the hospital. However, if you missed court because you had a flat tire, the judge might say you should have called for a ride instead and showed up on time.
We understand that sometimes there are legitimate reasons for you to miss a court date or payment, such as a family emergency, and we can work to tell your side of the story to the court. In some cases, a judge may refuse to recall a bench warrant. When this happens, your only option of being freed from jail is to secure bail for your case. Our firm can help you determine your legal options when trying to recall a warrant or get bail for your case.
If you are unsure of how to check the status of a warrant in Utah, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney today.
How to Check if You Have an Open Warrant in Salt Lake City
There are multiple ways to check if you have an open warrant in Salt Lake City. The first way to check if you have a warrant for your arrest is to look at the Department of Public Safety’s Utah Statewide Warrant Search website. By placing your name into the search function, you will be able to see any arrest or bench warrants in your name.
Another way to check the status of your arrest warrant is to contact the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification at (801) 965-4445. Finally, you can also check the status of any warrants by calling the clerk of courts in your county.
If you discover that you have a warrant out for your arrest, you should not panic. Your first step should be to contact an experienced Tooele criminal defense lawyer that is familiar with handling arrest warrants. Overson & Bugden, is committed to providing our clients with a legal defense that will meet their unique needs.
Arrest Warrants in Salt Lake City
While police can arrest you on the spot if they have probable cause, such as in a situation where an officer personally witnessed you commit a crime like arson, there will usually be some sort of criminal investigation into the alleged crime before the officers apply for an arrest warrant. If the judge issues a warrant based on the application, the officers will immediately seek you out to place you under arrest. Unlike with a bench warrant, they will not wait for you to come to them.
Usually, you will not have any formal warning that an arrest warrant has been issued, and the police are planning to come to execute it. For example, law enforcement could come to your home in the early hours of the morning to catch you off guard to serve an arrest warrant. They could also show up at your workplace or somewhere else they know you will be and execute the warrant.
If you do learn about a warrant, reach out to your attorney as soon as possible, as we can try to negotiate a deal for you to surrender yourself at the station instead of the police making a big public ordeal of your arrest. There can also be warning signs that a warrant is likely coming, such as if you have been repeatedly interviewed by the police or they have tried to search your home or other property. If you contact one of our lawyers as soon as these warning signs occur, we can try to find out exactly what is going on and work to mount a proactive defense on your behalf.
How Are Arrest Warrants Issued in Salt Lake City?
Judges or magistrates issue arrest warrants on the basis of probable cause. Probable cause consists of evidence and information gathered by the police that leads them to believe a crime has been committed and you are the person responsible. Probable cause is more than a mere hunch or suspicion but does not quite rise to the level of evidence required at a trial. Whatever the probable cause is, it must be held in good faith by the police and be reasonable.
Arrest warrants can be invalidated based on a lack of probable cause. If, after your arrest, you learn that the police were issued the arrest warrant based on insufficient probable cause, you can argue that your arrest was unlawful. Any evidence or information obtained by the police resulting from that arrest may be suppressed and prevented from being used against you at trial. An arrest warrant might be invalid if the police used probable cause they knew to be false or unreliable. A warrant may also be invalid if the probable cause was objectively insufficient regardless of whether the police held a good faith belief or not. If you believe you were arrested under a faulty warrant, contact our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys.
Arrest warrants and search warrants are entangled with your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. As such, courts take faulty or bogus warrants very seriously. An improperly executed warrant can change the direction of an entire case. If you believe you were arrested under a bogus warrant, contact our criminal defense attorneys for assistance.
Can I Get an Ordinary Arrest Warrant Dropped in Utah?
Once you know there is an open warrant for your arrest, we can begin to work through the situation. If it is a bench warrant, we can immediately contact the court, arrange for a new court date, and hopefully have the bench warrant recalled or dropped. If you have an ordinary arrest warrant that is open, your situation might be more complicated. Ordinary arrest warrants are not dropped simply because you choose to cooperate with the police. One way or another, you will likely be arrested. Our criminal defense team can help you determine the best way to approach the situation.
If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you always have the option of turning yourself in. Remember, turning yourself in is not an admission of guilt. In fact, turning yourself over to the police may work in your favor. It demonstrates that you have nothing to hide and are willing to cooperate. Once you are in police custody, you and your attorney can begin to understand the charges against you and handle your case moving forward.
If you do not want to turn yourself in, but you still feel the arrest warrant is baseless or perhaps issued by mistake, you should contact our Utah criminal defense team. We can contact the police and explain why we believe the warrant is baseless. For example, if you know for sure that you have not committed any criminal offense, then there should be no warrant for your arrest. By providing an alibi to police, they may be willing to drop the arrest warrant. However, it is not usually that easy to have an arrest warrant dropped. More often than not, the best thing to do is just cooperate with the police officers’ investigation and, if a mistake was made, the police will realize this soon enough.
Next Steps After an Arrest Warrant Is Executed in Utah
After your arrest, you will be taken to the local police station to be booked. Then, you will be kept in the station’s holding cell or transferred to the local jail until your initial appearance and bail hearing, which usually occur no more than 72 hours after booking. In misdemeanor cases, you will be asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or nor guilty at the initial appearance. In felony cases, this will not occur until later, after the bail hearing and potentially a preliminary hearing.
You will want to retain an experienced bail hearing attorney quickly after your arrest, so that they can be there to represent you at this hearing, where the judge decides whether to release you, if bail should be set, or if you must remain in jail until the underlying matter is resolved. The judge will consider such factors as your prior criminal record and the severity and nature of the crime alleged. Our skilled attorneys at Overson & Bugden, can work to make the most persuasive arguments for your release on little to no bail.
If you are able to secure bail for your case, it is vital that you adhere to all the guidelines set by the court. If you fail to follow the conditions of your bail release, you will forfeit bail and be sent back to jail. This can be devastating as it could affect a defendant’s ability to prepare for their case.
At this point, in this case, we can try to work out a deal with the prosecutor for your charges to be downgraded or dismissed. If no deal can be reached or you simply do not wish to take a deal, we are ready to represent you at trial and fight for a not guilty verdict. Unless you are charged with an infraction, you and your attorney can choose between a jury trial or a bench trial in front of a judge.
Differences Between Arrest Warrants and Search Warrants in Utah
As mentioned previously, an arrest warrant is issued by a court when the police believe a person has committed a crime. Alternatively, there are some cases where law enforcement may request that the court approve a search warrant rather than an arrest warrant. This often happens when law enforcement does not have evidence to prove that a suspect has committed a crime.
A judge can issue a search warrant for the purpose of searching a home, building, or other dwellings. Search warrants are different from arrest warrants because a search warrant is requested in order to find evidence that a suspect committed a crime. For example, if law enforcement believes that you have illegal drugs in your home, a search warrant will be issued to search the premises.
Search warrants often lead to arrests depending on what kind of evidence the police are able to discover. Only after evidence of a crime is found can law enforcement arrest the subject of the search warrant. However, law enforcement can detain persons inside a dwelling while they search for illegal items.
It is important to note that law enforcement should only search the areas of the premises where the contraband could be found. For example, if you were accused of stealing a vehicle, this does not give law enforcement permission to check your entire home. If you believe that a police officer violated the scope of a search warrant, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to argue that your rights were violated as part of an illegal search.
To learn more about what to do after you were arrested on a warrant, you should continue reading and speak with our experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer.
If You Are Concerned About a Warrant, Call Our Experienced Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Whether you are facing a bench warrant or an arrest warrant, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your rights to contact a skilled Ogden criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden, as soon as you learn the warrant has been issued. Our skilled legal team has extensive experience handling a wide range of warrant cases, and we would be pleased to work with you on your case. You do not have to handle your arrest warrant or bench warrant matter alone. We will get to work right away to tell your side of the story and fight to bring the matter to a successful, positive conclusion. Call our office today at (801) 758-2328 for a free consultation. You may also contact our skilled legal team online to schedule your free case evaluation.