Being arrested or arraigned on a warrant is serious business, and the potential for disaster is significant. When a person is arraigned on an outstanding felony or misdemeanor warrant, a judge may set a bond that can be difficult or impossible to pay.

Types of Arrest Warrants

  • Complaint and Warrant – This is an arrest warrant issued in conjunction with the filing of misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. This is the start first step in a criminal prosecution.
  • Bench Warrant – This is the type of warrant for a person’s arrest that is typically issued for a defendant that had been released on bail but later fails to appear in court. A bench warrant is often referred to as a Capias Warrant (especially in Wayne County, Michigan).
  • Fugitive Warrant – A warrant sent from another state when the suspect is believed to be in a local jurisdiction.
  • Governor’s Warrant – A warrant issued by the governor to arrest a person that is wanted in another state for extradition.
  • Material Witness Warrant – A warrant issued for a witness that is not cooperating with a validly authorized subpoena.

“What if a warrant is issued for my arrest?”

If a warrant has been issued for a person’s arrest, the criminal prosecution has commenced and charges have been filed in court. The only way to get this type of warrant set aside (canceled) is for the defendant to come to court and be arraigned. An arraignment is when the defendant comes before a judge or magistrate who sets a bond or amount of bail. Bond or bail can be personal, meaning no money is posted. It can also require a cash deposit with the court or it can the type of bond that is posted by a bail bondsperson (this is frequently called a surety bond). Getting a low or personal bond is most likely with the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer that has a track record of successfully arguing for low bond amounts and personal recognizance bonds.

An “Arrest Warrant” Does Not Require an Arrest

Without an attorney, an arrest is an eventual certainty. An experienced lawyer can often arrange an appearance before the court before there is an arrest so that bond can be set and posted. If bail is set and posted prior to an arrest, the defendant will not have to be taken into custody; however, fingerprints and photographs may still be required. Generally, bond or bail that is posted with a court gets returned at the end of the case.

The Key is Keeping the Defendant Out of Custody

A top criminal defense lawyer knows that keeping a client free on bond is often the key to a successful defense. A defendant that is on bond has the ability to work, take care of family, be productive, participate in therapy, get medical help, and assist in his or her defense. A defendant that sits and rots in jail pending trial, has no way to show the court that he or she is capable of being law-abiding. Being stuck in jail makes assisting defense counsel burdensome and difficult. A defense attorney must do everything reasonably possible to achieve a personal bond or, at a minimum, an affordable bond.

Surrender on a Warrant

The voluntary act of self-surrendering on an arrest warrant can make a huge difference in the outcome of a case, the amount of the bond, plea options, the sentence imposed, and more. The only smart way to self-surrender is with a retained defense attorney. Going it alone is a recipe for disaster and may result in the defendant being stuck in jail for months awaiting trial. A great lawyer will know how to proactively prepare for the arraignment, advocate for a low bond, gather evidence favorable to pretrial release, and take a variety of other measures in an effort to keep the client out of custody.

Successfully Avoiding Arrest on a Warrant

Perhaps the most self-destructive thing a defendant can do is avoid arrest and not face a criminal charge. The truth is that warrants never expire. The amount of the bond will be higher in cases where the court believes the defendant intentionally or knowingly avoided prosecution. A popular misconception is that if a person leaves the state long enough, the statute of limitations will bar a prosecution. This is not true. Under Michigan law, the statute of limitation’s clock stops when a person leaves the state.

“If I have a warrant, can I be extradited?”

Extradition is a process where an individual is transferred from one state to another based on a felony warrant. A person can be extradited if he or she has an out-of-state felony warrant. If arrested, the person is brought before a judge and advised that there is a felony warrant in another state.  The arrestee can either agree to the extradition or fight it. The only two avenues of fighting the extradition are claiming the person is not the individual named in the warrant or that the warrant is invalid. Once a person waives his or her right to contest extradition or if the individual is determined to be the correct defendant after a hearing, the state with the felony warrant has 30 days to pick up the detained individual.  In some circumstances, a state can seek an extension of up to 60 additional days.

Bond in the United States Federal District Court

In federal cases, the bond is frequently either personal, otherwise known in federal court as an unsecured bond, or a bond is not even set, and the defendant is detained. In other words, release on bond is denied. Frequently the only thing standing in the way of the United States Attorney successfully seeking detention is the defense lawyer standing next to and fighting for his or her client. The simple truth is that the better the lawyer, the better chance the defendant has of walking out of the courtroom.

Staying Out of Jail and Free on Bond

The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience representing clients at arraignment and achieving personal recognizance bonds. In those cases where a cash or surety bond cannot be avoided, we have the expertise, credibility, and know-how to convince a court to set a bond at an affordable amount. If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, do not hesitate to call us at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will promptly contact you. Contact Us - Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys