WHAT TO DO ABOUT A WARRANT IN CONNECTICUT
April 26, 2016
Yesterday I wrote about arrests by summons: when a person is arrested without being taken into custody for misdemeanor offenses in Connecticut. Most arrests are done on-site. That is a police officer makes the arrest without a warrant, right after the alleged offense occurs. Arrests must be supported by probable cause. Following a warrantless arrest a judge determines whether probable cause exists. A warrant is a document signed by a judge saying that probable cause exists to arrest someone and allows the police to go and take the person into custody. The police, through the State’s Attorneys, apply for a warrant. Judges can also issue bench warrants for people who fail to appear for scheduled court dates.
Warrants are entered into law enforcement’s databases. In many instances, they come up when people have police encounters, such as traffic stops, even in other states. In other times, the police will inform a person that a warrant has been issued or sometimes you just know that they are coming. So the question is what to do when you find out there is a warrant out for your arrest. Some people run or hide. That is not a good idea. Being picked up on a warrant in another state leads to even more problems. The original jurisdiction could seek extradition. If you are not a citizen and leave the country, you may not be able to obtain a visa to return to the United States with an open warrant. It is best to turn yourself in on the warrant in a timely manner. That does not mean go up to any police officer you see and ask to be taken in. Proper planning must be taken. Before doing anything else, contact an attorney immediately (I suggest myself–use the email button on this website or call me).
The first step is to find out which police department has the warrant. Any police department in Connecticut can take someone in on the warrant but will have to transfer the person over to the original department. The next step is to find out if there is a bond on the warrant. If there is a bond on the warrant, you can turn yourself in but will remain in custody until the bond is posted. That might require paying the bond at the police department in cash or by having a bondsman post it when you turn yourself in. If there is no bond on the warrant or you post it at the police station, the police will release you with a court date for your arraignment. If you are not released, you will be arraigned before a judge on the next court date and bond can be argued. If you turn yourself in early enough in the morning at the right police department, you can go to court later that morning and possibly have the bond reduced, which if using a bail bond agent’s services, would reduce your premium. I recently coordinated this with a client and she was released on a promise to appear after arraignment, which saved her a few thousand dollars than if she had hired a bondsman to bond her out at the police station.
My advice in criminal matters almost always comes around to the same thing: hire an attorney first. If there is a warrant out for your arrest, you will at some point be arrested and be facing criminal charges which always carry the possibility of jail and loss of liberty. While most of my work is done after arrest, proper counsel can greatly reduce the costs (bond fees, attorney fees, etc.) and even the criminal charges themselves.