If there is a warrant out for your arrest, turning yourself in to law enforcement will likely result in you being taken into custody for processing. In Philadelphia, that bail interview and processing will take 12- 24 hours in holding before you appear in front of a judge during a court hearing to determine bail. You will either pay your bail or go back to jail to wait for trial unless the court dismisses the charges against you.
Knowing there’s a warrant out for your arrest can be a stressful and frightening situation if it’s not the first time you’ve ever been in trouble with the law. But turning yourself in with an attorney helps prove to the court that you are cooperating with judicial process and provides your attorney with something to use in their argument in that you are not a flight risk. A criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you turn yourself in and protect your rights.
What Is an Arrest Warrant?
An arrest warrant is a document authorizing law enforcement to take you into custody if there is probable cause. Your guilt or innocence is up to a court of law and a jury of your peers. A judge must sign a warrant for it to be executable.
The same is true of a bench warrant, which a judge issues if you are found to be in contempt of court, such as if you did not appear at a hearing or are in violation of a condition or order by the court.
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Is It Better to Turn Yourself In?
If there’s a warrant out for your arrest, it might be so scary to you that you are considering running away or hiding. Avoiding a warrant doesn’t make it magically disappear. At some point, the police will catch up to you, and your arrest could end up being very public and/or confrontational.
It also doesn’t look good in court. The prosecution could consider you a flight risk, so the judge may decide to deny bail and send you to jail to await trial.
While it all seems scary to you, you can bolster your defense by voluntarily turning yourself in. We strongly recommend obtaining legal representation from a criminal defense attorney who can arrange for you to turn yourself in peacefully and protect your rights as you are taken into custody. The judge will see that you are cooperating, which opens the door to quashing the warrant and granting you bail so you can avoid jail.
Your criminal defense lawyer will bring up the fact that you turned yourself in as part of a defense strategy.
What Happens After You Turn Yourself In?
After you turn yourself in, the police will process you. They will take your fingerprints to confirm your identity and place you in a holding cell. You may feel the urge to talk to the police because you believe cooperating will demonstrate your innocence.
However, the prosecution can use anything you say to the police against you in court. They can also use whatever you might say to others who are in jail with you. Another inmate could trade information you told them to improve the outcome of their own case or reduce their sentence.
You have the right to remain silent, and we strongly recommend that you exercise it to avoid incriminating yourself.
You Will Wait for Your Hearing
The court will then have a hearing to consider the allegations and charges against you and set your bail. The prosecution will present any arguments or evidence to show that you are a flight risk or a danger to the community. The judge or magistrate will hear the arguments of your attorney and then decide your bail based on whether they have proven risk of flight or danger..
If you are able to make pay bail or are released on your agreement to attend all of your court dates, then they will release you, and you will avoid staying in jail until your next court date. If you cannot make bail or the judge denies it, you will remain in jail. Be sure to avoid missing your court date or the court will issue another bench warrant, and the judge may not exercise as much leniency.
What Should You do Before Turning Yourself in?
You’re ready to turn yourself in, but you want to prepare yourself first. Consider doing the following first:
- Consult an attorney.
- Determine what kind of warrant it is.
- Find out what the charges are against you.
- Consider the cost of bail and legal representation.
- Make sure that your lawyer has your witness contact information.
- Get your last-minute affairs in order just in case you go to jail.
Again, turning yourself in may not be your first instinct. It may even worry you, but a criminal defense attorney from our firm can help you prepare to turn yourself in so you feel safe. We will guide you through the process and protect your rights every step of the way.
Is There a Good Time to Turn Yourself In?
There is an optimal and strategic time to turn yourself in so that you might be able to spend less time in jail.
The courts are more likely to be busier on Mondays, while judges are tougher to get a hearing with on Fridays. Except for in major cities, like Philadelphia, the courts typically do not operate over weekends, either. If you turn yourself in on a Friday, you may have to spend the entire weekend in jail.
Therefore, turning yourself in any time between Tuesday and Thursday in the early morning gives you the best chance to get an earlier hearing so you can make bail and avoid more jail.
Learn More About Turning Yourself In Today
The choice to turn yourself in is up to you, but voluntarily doing so improves the likelihood of a more positive outcome for yourself at a bail hearing and at trial. A criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC can help by advising you of your rights, preparing you to turn yourself in, facilitating your surrender, and defending you against the charges in court.
You are not alone. To learn more about turning yourself in or how a criminal defense attorney can help, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation today.