Having an open arrest warrant can make life extremely difficult. Simple activities like driving or flying become risky, and the warrant hangs like a dark cloud until it’s resolved.
We know how stressful and limiting an active warrant can be. While hiding from an outstanding warrant may be tempting, that only worsens the situation.
Here are key things you should avoid and the proactive steps to take instead:
Stay Out of Public View
Once a warrant is issued for your arrest, law enforcement gains full authority to detain you on sight, regardless of where you are. Grocery stores, coffee shops, parks, restaurants – police can legally take you into custody in any public space. They don’t need to have the physical warrant with them, either. The officers need to verify that a valid warrant exists in the system for you.
In Ohio, we’ve seen clients get arrested on warrants during routine traffic stops, at courthouses handling unrelated matters, and even at work or school. Nowhere is truly off limits to the police when you have a warrant. The only way to minimize surprises is to avoid going out in public as much as possible.
Avoid Air Travel
Stepping into an airport with an open warrant is asking for trouble. All major airports now screen passenger names against criminal databases before allowing travelers through security.
Your name will be flagged if you have an active warrant in Ohio or anywhere else. Rather than a relaxing vacation, you’ll end up in handcuffs and likely jail.
A better approach is to proactively address the warrant before trying to travel. Consulting with an attorney experienced in warrant defense allows you to get the matter handled legally without getting arrested at the airport.
Don’t Get Behind The Wheel
When a warrant is issued, the court also notifies the Ohio BMV to suspend your driver’s license. This happens automatically without any action on your part. Your license remains suspended indefinitely until the warrant gets cleared from the system.
In practical terms, this means any traffic stop while you have an active warrant will likely result in arrest. Police officers will detain you both for the warrant and driving without a valid license. The consequences spiral quickly once an arrest occurs.
Steer Clear of Military Bases
Gaining access to any military base requires passing strict security protocols. These procedures include background checks against law enforcement databases for wants and warrants. If your name appears, you’ll be denied entry and detained.
For active service members who receive a warrant, it means immediate restriction from their base and duties. The same goes for civilian contractors working on bases. Their security clearance gets revoked while the warrant remains open.
Don’t Attempt to Purchase a Firearm
Like airport security, gun shops run warrant checks before allowing firearm purchases. Attempting to buy a gun with an open warrant will ruin your plans and may end in arrest.
Taking care of the warrant discreetly with legal counsel eliminates the issue before you fill out firearm paperwork. Once the warrant is gone, your Second Amendment rights are restored.
What You Should Do (Instead) If You Have a Warrant
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about smart steps to take if you find yourself facing an outstanding warrant:
Address Any Unpaid Fines or Tickets
In many cases, warrants stem from a failure to appear in court or pay fines by a deadline. Your attorney can help reschedule court dates or make arrangements to settle outstanding ticket fines. Taking responsibility for these matters upfront can sometimes lead to warrants being dropped.
Turn Yourself In on Your Terms
While scary, turning yourself in is often the wisest path to resolution. With an attorney present, you control the surrender location and timeline rather than face a jarring arrest at an unexpected moment. Your lawyer can also advocate for you during booking procedures and initial court appearances.
Request a Hearing to Quash the Warrant
If your attorney believes the warrant was issued improperly or that you have a strong defense against the charges, they can petition the court to quash (cancel) the warrant. This provides the opportunity to contest the validity of the warrant and avoid arrest.
Consult an Experienced Criminal Attorney
The first call you make should be to a criminal defense lawyer, not the court clerk or police. An attorney experienced with warrants can check databases to confirm if one exists and advise you on the next steps.
This includes whether you’ll need to surrender voluntarily or if the warrant can be recalled. They can also assist with posting bonds if required.
Having expert counsel in your corner from the start helps avoid potential pitfalls and paves the way to the best resolution. Don’t go it alone.
Contact The Botnick Law Firm in Cleveland, OH, today for a case review. Their legal team will create a customized action plan so you can put this warrant behind you.