In the state of Texas, a warrant for your arrest is a quite serious legal matter. Several kinds of arrest warrants are used by Texas courts and law enforcement officials. This is a general look at arrest warrants in the state of Texas, but if you are named in any particular arrest warrant in Collin County, you will need to consult with an experienced Plano criminal defense attorney. Arrest warrants in this state include warrants for a criminal offense, warrants for failure to appear in court, warrants for failure to pay a fine, and warrants for probation violations.
If a police officer in Texas sees someone commit a crime – driving under the influence, for example – the officer can make an arrest on the spot and without any requirement for an arrest warrant. However, when the police do not see a crime but instead investigate a crime and identify a suspect, the police will typically then obtain a warrant for that suspect’s arrest. If you know or believe that a warrant has been issued for your own arrest in Collin County, contact a Plano criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.
Your attorney can find out if you are named in an arrest warrant, find out the charge and the bail amount, and arrange for you to turn yourself in and avoid an embarrassing arrest situation. Do not surrender to the police without first consulting an attorney. Do not try to act as your own lawyer, and do not answer any questions from the police without having your lawyer present. If you are placed under arrest, simply and politely explain to the police, “I prefer to exercise my right to remain silent and my right to have an attorney present during questioning.”
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR IN COURT AS ORDERED?
If you are arrested and then released on a criminal charge, or if you received a traffic citation and signed a promise to appear for a particular court date, you must be in the courtroom at the date and time scheduled for your hearing. If you fail to appear, the court will almost certainly issue a warrant for your arrest for your failure to appear, and if you have posted bail money, you will forfeit that money.
You will be re-arrested and your bail amount at that time may be doubled. A Plano criminal defense attorney may be able to help, but the best policy is simply to appear in court as scheduled, and make sure that you are accompanied by your defense attorney.
An arrest warrant can also be issued for the failure to pay a fine. Like a warrant for the failure to appear, Texans can avoid having this kind of warrant issued simply by meeting their legal obligations. You can even be arrested for the failure to pay a traffic fine.
Traffic fines in Collin County can actually be paid by phone in many cases, and if you simply do not have the money to pay, in some cases a payment plan can be arranged. If you are required to pay any legal fine in Texas, take care of it right away so that you do not forget or overlook it.
An arrest warrant can also be issued in this state if you are on probation for any reason and you violate the terms of your probation. When a convicted offender is placed on probation, there are obligations (like community service) and prohibitions (drug use, for example).
If a prosecutor has evidence that a probationer has violated the terms of probation – failing to perform community service, for example, or failing a drug test – the prosecutor will seek an arrest warrant and file a motion to revoke the individual’s probation.
A probation violation arrest warrant is somewhat different from other arrest warrants, because the person on probation has already been convicted of a crime. Judges thus are not required to grant bail after an arrest for a probation violation, and the probationer may be compelled to wait in jail for a hearing.
If found guilty of violating probation, a defendant may be placed in custody or may be returned to probation with additional terms and conditions. If you are accused of violating probation in Collin County, an experienced Plano criminal defense attorney can help.
HOW DO I ARRANGE FOR A BAIL BOND?
When a suspect is placed under arrest and a judge sets bail, the person in custody can pay the bail in cash (that’s called a “cash bond”) or use a bail bondsman to post what is called a “surety bond.” A bail bondsman pays the full amount of bail on your behalf and keeps what you pay – usually ten percent of the bail amount – in return for the service. Sometimes the fee exceeds ten percent, depending on the charge and the details of the case.
If you pay a cash bond rather than using a bail bondsman, the amount is entirely refunded provided you appear in court as scheduled, regardless of whether you are found guilty or not guilty of the charge. If you can afford it, a cash bond is preferable. You can use any refunded cash toward fines or attorney fees. If you use a bail bondsman, even if you appear in court and you are found not guilty, you will still lose whatever you have paid to the bondsman.
WHAT ARE ACTIVATED AND UNACTIVATED ARREST WARRANTS?
“Activated” arrest warrants are visible to the public and to all Texas law enforcement officers, but not every arrest warrant is activated. Traffic-related warrants often cannot be seen by officers outside of the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued. In other cases, an officer who has obtained an arrest warrant may not activate it because he or she has investigated the case and intends to make the arrest personally.
Finally, some arrest warrants in Texas are not activated to avoid tipping off suspects and giving them an opportunity to flee. Anyone who has a pending arrest warrant and anyone who is being investigated for a crime in Collin County should speak immediately to an experienced Plano criminal defense attorney who can represent you and advocate on your behalf. Do not wait to seek reliable counsel. You have that right.