Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney - What do I do if I have a warrant?
Woodlands Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Foley.
If you think that the police may be investigating something you did, or someone that you love, then the thing you might be worried about is called a Warrant. A warrant is an order from a judge that allows the police to arrest you either on the street, in your car, or even in your home. If the warrant is for a Felony offense the police can break down the door to your home to arrest you and they'll be allowed to seize any evidence they find in plain view during the execution of a felony arrest warrant.
A misdemeanor warrant will not allow the police to break down your door so they would have to knock and ask you to open the door. Once the door is opened and you are in sight the police will take you out of the house even if the offense is only a misdemeanor.
HOW DOES THE WARRANT PROCESS WORK?
The first step in the warrant process is the creation of a criminal complaint to a police agency. When an officer becomes aware of a crime or an alleged crime occurring then they will begin an investigation or write a report and refer the investigation to a detective. At that point the detective may interview witnesses, collect video or other evidence like fiber or blood.
When an officer believes that he has probable cause for each element of the offense that he is investigating then he will contact the district attorney's office and submit an affidavit and complaint to the DA.
In Montgomery County the District Attorney's office has a division called "the Intake Division" where prosecutors work full time consulting with police officers on what has happened in their cases and how to improve the outcome for the State. The District Attorney decides if the case will be accepted and filed with the court. If the District Attorney decides to take the case then they will edit a draft of the warrant affidavit and send it to the judge for review. The warrant affidavit is just a summary in paragraph form of what happened in the case or what evidence the police have about the alleged crime.
When the judge receives the warrant from the District Attorney's Office then it is the duty of the Judge to determine if the police have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. If so the Judge will sign the warrant and send it to the District Clerk.
The District Clerk or County Clerk will receive and file the warrant and two documents called a complaint and information which list the elements of the crime.
The warrant is entered into the national database called TCIC/NCIC so that any police officer around the county can pull up the information if you are pulled over for traffic or asked for your identification on the street.
A copy of the warrant is retained by the Sheriff's Office so that when an officer finds the person with the warrant it can be confirmed prior to making an arrest.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A WARRANT?
If you believe that you have a warrant the most important thing you can do is contact an attorney and a bail bondsman. If a warrant has been signed in Texas, a bond amount is almost always also fixed. An attorney and bondsman can help you move through the process of addressing the legal charges and presenting a defense. You may be able to report for a "walk-through," where you do not have to dress out in jail clothes but may only need to take a photo and fingerprint and report to your court date later on.