When a Pennsylvania judge approves or issues a warrant, you have several options. You may be able to self-surrender to the court who issued the warrant and go before a judge. You may also be able to schedule a new court date or work out another solution.
All too often, individuals with an active warrant believe the only thing they can do is turn themselves in or “keep a low profile” to avoid being arrested. Both situations generally end with the person going to jail, at least for a few hours. You may be able to amicably work out the reason for your warrant with judicial authority. However, there is no guarantee that by doing so you will avoid criminal prosecution.
You May Be Able to Go Before a Judge to Avoid Going to Jail
In general, your warrant will remain active until you surrender yourself to the police or appear before a judge. You can confirm that you have an active Pennsylvania warrant from the Pennsylvania Judiciary Web Portal. Follow the Case Information menu to the Public Web Docket sheets.
A criminal defense attorney may know how to navigate the warrant situation in your case. Your lawyer may be able to reach out to the court to work out your surrender. In some cases, they may be able to schedule a hearing quickly so that you can go before a judge immediately instead of into police custody.
Depending on your charge, your attorney may be able to work out a solution with the court that gets rid of your warrant and does not involve jail time.
This could include:
- Paying a fine or accepting another penalty
- Resolving the issue that caused the judge to issue the warrant
- Appearing in court to answer for an alleged crime
A criminal defense lawyer may have other solutions for resolving your warrant.
You Can Only Be Held for 72 Hours if You Go to Jail Because of a Warrant
Occasionally, you may need to self-surrender or otherwise turn yourself in if there is a warrant issued in your name. Under Pennsylvania Code, Rule 1910.13-1, you are guaranteed a hearing within 72 hours in most circumstances. Unfortunately, that timeframe could be extended if it overlaps a period when the courts are closed, such as a weekend or federal holiday.
Even if you do go to jail, you may spend only a few hours in custody if you are offered bail and can pay it. If you cannot pay your bail, or if you committed an offense that does not allow this option, you may need to stay in jail until you are seen by a judge.
Understanding Bench Warrants and Arrest Warrants in Pennsylvania
There are two types of warrants you may face in Pennsylvania:
- Bench warrants are issued by a judge if you fail to appear in court or are held in contempt of the court.
- Arrest warrants are requested by police and approved by a judge if there is probable cause to believe the person committed a crime.
Both types of warrants require the person to go before a judge. When a judge issues or approves a warrant, police are notified that the person is “wanted.” Police officers may be tasked with tracking and arresting those with active warrants.
This could include an arrest occurring:
- At your house
- At your work
- Anywhere in public
- During a traffic stop
You should resolve your warrant as soon as possible to avoid arrest.
An Attorney May Be Able to Help You Clear Your Warrant
It can be frightening to learn that there is a bench or arrest warrant issued for you, and it can be confusing or unclear to figure out what to do next. Criminal defense attorneys regularly offer consultation and representation to people in these situations.
A criminal defense lawyer may be able to contact the court that issued the warrant on your behalf to arrange:
- A new court date
- Another way to resolve the issue with the court
Depending on the reason for your warrant, your hearing may give your attorney the opportunity to negotiate terms regarding your future. They may be able to work toward settling your case, negotiating bail, negotiating a plea bargain, or taking other steps on your behalf.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. May Be Able to Help You Avoid Jail
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we may be able to help you clear your warrant and avoid jail in Montgomery County or other nearby areas. Call us today at (610) 680-7842 for a free consultation. We can discuss your bench warrant or arrest warrant with you today, no matter what charge or infraction it represents.