An arrest warrant (also known as a bench warrant) allows police to place you into custody on sight. You want to clear up the matter as soon as possible, but no one wants to go to jail.

Learn what to do about an arrest warrant, how to turn yourself in but possibly avoid jail, and how to find out if you have any outstanding warrants.

What if You Do Nothing?

You might be arrested at home, work, or a restaurant. Many arrests occur when police pull someone over for a traffic violation and discover an outstanding warrant.

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a nationwide database for fugitives, missing persons, and other justice-related data. All local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have access to NCIC records 24/7, 365 days a year.

If you do nothing about an active warrant, the police can and will arrest you sooner or later. You will be in deeper legal trouble by ignoring or trying to flee an arrest warrant.

Should You Turn Yourself In?

Voluntarily surrendering at the nearest police station almost guarantees that you’ll go to jail. Turning yourself in also gives police the chance to question you about the warrant and related circumstances.

While you must face the realities of an arrest warrant, walking into a police station without the benefit of legal counsel is not recommended.

Your Best Option: Call a Criminal Defense Attorney

When you learn about an arrest warrant, your best option is to call a criminal defense attorney. An attorney with experience in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system can help you resolve the warrant. You might not have to go to jail.

However, turning yourself in with the help of a lawyer proves that you want to do the right thing. A judge looks more favorably on voluntary surrender than defendants whom the police must track down.

There are several benefits of talking to an attorney about an outstanding warrant and an imminent arrest.

Confirm the Warrant’s Validity

Police departments make mistakes. The warrant may be for someone with the same name as yours but a different date of birth. A criminal defense lawyer confirms the accuracy and validity of the warrant before you decide your next move.

Contact the Court

If the warrant is valid, an attorney contacts the court to determine a resolution that might not involve going to jail. For example, if you have too many unpaid traffic violations, you might avoid jail by paying fines and late fees.

A criminal defense attorney familiar with local courts, judges, and processes is a tremendous asset.

Request Preliminary Arraignment

A preliminary arraignment is the first time you’ll appear before a judge. Sometimes called a bail hearing, the outcome of this court appearance determines whether you’ll be sent to jail or allowed to return home on bail.

The prosecution will likely object to bail. A defense attorney can argue why you should be granted bail and protect your rights throughout.

How to Search for Arrest Warrants

There are a few ways to find out if you have an active warrant.

Search the State Judicial System Website

You can search Pennsylvania’s judicial website if you know an individual’s first and last name. The website also gives you information on upcoming court dates, criminal records, and links to inmate searches.

Search Chester County Sheriff’s Website

The Chester County Sheriff’s Office lets you search for arrest warrants on its website.

Call the Chester County Sheriff’s Office

You do not have to give your name to ask about an arrest warrant. If you’re concerned about remaining anonymous, ask a trusted friend or family member to call on your behalf. All they need is your legal name.

The Sheriff’s Office phone number is 610-344-6850.

Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense attorney can check the state system for an active warrant in your name. They also assist you in turning yourself in for the best possible outcome.

Call the Skinner Law Firm for Proven Results

If you’re facing an outstanding arrest warrant, you don’t have to navigate the justice system alone. Criminal defense attorney Michael J. Skinner will fight to protect your rights and freedom.

Call the Skinner Law Firm for a free consultation. Use our online form or call 610-436-1410.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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