Misconceptions and Common Mistakes Regarding Bench Warrants

Below, Peter Odom distills some of the common myths and misconceptions regarding bench warrants in Washington, DC including whether it is in your best interest to turn yourself in to police. If you believe you may have a warrant out for your arrest, call today and schedule a free consultation with a DC failure to appear lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions When it Comes to Bench Warrants?

A common misconception is that Bench Warrants lapse after a certain period of time which is not true. A Bench Warrant will remain open indefinitely and even though they can start off as a non-extraditable warrant which means that the defendant can only be arrested in the district a judge can decide to make a bench warrant extraditable depending on the circumstances or could change a non-extraditable warrant to an extraditable warrant so that you can be arrested anywhere in the Country, anytime and that will be the case until the arrest warrant is closed either because you turned yourself in or because you get arrested.

Another common misconception is that the lawyer can take care of the Bench Warrants for you without you having to appear before the judge. This can be true in some situations but it is almost always the case that you need to appear in court with your lawyer to resolve the Bench Warrant.

What Are Some of the Biggest Mistakes You See Individuals Make When a Bench Warrant Has Been Issued For An Individual’s Arrest?

The biggest mistake that I see people make when a Bench Warrant has been issued is turning themselves into the police as opposed to talking to a lawyer and working out a self-surrender to the judge. If you turn yourself into the police by going to your local police station or showing up at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters or showing up at the US Marshals Headquarters, the police are required to arrest you and it might be several days before you can be released from custody, if you do get released at all.

Another mistake people make is waiting sometimes weeks, sometimes months or even years before trying to resolve the Bench Warrant. I see this happen most often for people who don’t live in the D.C. area or are not US residents.

For example if you are arrested during a vacation or a business trip to Washington D.C. sometimes it is just tempting to go home after the arrest and hope the whole thing goes away on its own. But when you don’t show up for your first court hearing you will have a Bench Warrant for your arrest and that Bench Warrant won’t go away.

Even if you live outside the D.C. area or live outside the United States having a open Bench Warrant can make your life very inconvenient. It can result in you not being able to get a Driver’s License, it can result in you not being able to register to vote, it can result in you potentially being arrested by US Marshalls if you are flying into the United States even if you are not flying into the Washington D.C. area, it can result in you being stopped somewhere on the street and arrested at a random time.