The Consequences of Ignoring a Warrant in California
Courts can issue arrest warrants when law enforcement believes you have committed a crime, or when you fail to appear at a scheduled court date. If you have reason to believe there’s a warrant out for your arrest, it’s vital to respond appropriately with the help of a knowledgeable California defense lawyer.
Read on to learn about warrants and the consequences you could face for treating warrants lightly. If you’re concerned that you may have an outstanding warrant, or if you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Ventura County, call the experienced Oxnard criminal defense attorney Paul Tyler as soon as possible for advice and representation.
What Is a Warrant?
A warrant is a court order that grants the police the authority to detain and arrest a defendant. If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, it could mean law enforcement is actively looking for you, or at the least it may mean that you can be unexpectedly arrested during any encounter with law enforcement–even a traffic stop. In other words, a warrant means that a speeding ticket could suddenly land you in jail.
Warrants can be issued for any number of reasons. Typically, the police will obtain a warrant for arrest if they investigate and learn about a crime that was committed outside of their presence (i.e. when they could not have arrested the defendant on the spot). The police and prosecutors will gather evidence of a crime, take it to court, and seek to prove that they have probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a crime. If the court is convinced, they will issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
A court may also issue a “bench warrant” when a defendant fails to appear for a court date, even for something minor. If you did not show up to court for a criminal case, if you have not been paying your child support, if you violated a restraining order, if you have a bevy of unpaid parking tickets, or if you’ve otherwise disobeyed a court order, you might have a warrant out for your arrest. A bench warrant can be issued without a showing of probable cause, but it still gives law enforcement authority to arrest the defendant.
What Happens if I Ignore a Warrant?
One of the most common grounds for warrants in California is a charge of “Failure to Appear.” A court can charge a defendant with Failure to Appear when they do not show up to court on the appointed date in a criminal matter. Failure to Appear is a full criminal charge in its own right, separate and apart from the underlying crime that gave rise to the missed court appearance. Failure to Appear can be charged as a misdemeanor or even as a felony, depending upon the original charges that led to the court date.
Penalties for Failure to Appear vary depending upon the severity of the underlying crime. You can face fines, probation violation, suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail or prison time. The more serious the underlying crime, the worse the penalties may be.
It’s best to act quickly if you have reason to believe you are the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant or bench warrant. If the police believe you are a flight risk or that you are dangerous, you could face additional charges such as evading arrest, and the police are more likely to employ violent means to detain you. If you turn yourself in, you may be able to earn the trust of the court and contest the underlying charges without starting on the wrong foot.
Call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options, including surrendering yourself to avoid unnecessary additional charges and penalties.
Call Defense Lawyer Paul Tyler for Help Fighting Criminal Charges in Oxnard or Ventura County
If you are facing criminal charges in southern California, get diligent, dedicated legal help by contacting the Ventura offices of Paul Tyler for a free consultation at 805-889-9000.