Learning you are wanted by law enforcement is an unwelcome discovery, but ignoring the warrant and hoping it just goes away is not a wise choice. Warrants never expire and you can be taken into custody in any state in the country, even if you are pulled over for a minor infraction like having a broken taillight. On the other hand, if you turn yourself in, you might be taken to jail immediately. There are a few things you should do and not do in order to deal with the situation effectively.

To start with, there are certain actions you should not take in response to a warrant. Here is a checklist:

  • Do not flee — In today’s interconnected world, you cannot expect to evade police forever. You will eventually be caught, and your having fled may have negative consequences. If you go to trial on the underlying charge, the district attorney can ask the trial judge for a “consciousness of guilt” instruction, which allows the jury to infer that your flight was an admission that you committed the crime.
  • Do not leave the state — If you are arrested on the warrant in another state, you’ll have to go through an extradition process, which could mean staying in jail for weeks or even months.
  • Do not go out in public — Law enforcement can apprehend you essentially anywhere you are, without much limitation.
  • Do not speak to police on your own — Many people call the police right away to address the warrant, but this actually gives the police a chance to question you. Any statements you make about the arrest warrant or the underlying criminal charge can be used against you in court.

With all of those “don’ts” in mind, turn your attention to the positive steps you should take.

First, call an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney. Be honest and forthright with the lawyer. Explain why you think the warrant exists, providing all the facts that you can think of. The more the lawyer knows about your situation, the better able he or she will be to respond to the warrant. It may be possible to get the warrant lifted if it was issued in error or it is otherwise invalid.

Next, you and your lawyer will make arrangements for you to turn yourself in. This will involve discussions with law enforcement and with a bonding agency, which can begin arranging for bail. A judge will set the amount of bail based on your previous criminal history if any, the type and level of crime charged and several other factors.

The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner you can begin preparing a defense. At Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law, I have nearly 25 years of experience in criminal law and will do everything I can to protect your rights if you are the subject of a warrant. Call [ln::phone] or contact me online for a free consultation.