What to do about an out-of-state bench warrant?

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What to do about an out-of-state bench warrant?

I was issued a bench warrant in another state; I don’t live there. It was issued 2 years ago. I just found out about it.

Asked on February 15, 2011 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The reason that a bench warrant would have been issued for you is that you were charged with an offense and failed to appear in court (FTA). At that point a bench warrant for your arrest was issued. Depending on what the underlying charge was for, officers may or may not be tracking you, however, if you are stopped by the police for even a minor infraction you will be arrested and taken into custody on the spot. You may then be extradited back to the state where all of this occurred. Even if you are not, you will run the risk of being arrested anytime that you may be stopped by the police in the future. Additionally, an employment background check will turn this all up, so obtaining employment will be difficult, if not impossible. And if you apply for a driver's license your warrant will show. The longer this goes on the worse it will be for you. It will be far better for you to turn yourself in and appear voluntarily.

What you need to do now is to hire an attorney in the issuing state, attorney that practices in the court that issued the warrant. This attorney can utilize their local contacts to negotiate to your best advantage. Remember, you have to deal not only with the FTA but also the underlying charge. Bottom line, you will need to go back to FL to handle this.

If money is an issue, see if you qualify for representation by the Public Defender's office or Legal Aid. Also, check if there is a law school nearby to where the arrest took place; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases. Additionally, contact the local Bar Association in the county where the proceedings will be held; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances.


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