If you have been charged with a criminal offense in New York City, you may be facing a warrant for your arrest. A warrant may even be issued against you in a civil case if you fail to appear for a scheduled court date.
Whether your outstanding warrant is criminal or civil in nature, or you believe your constitutional rights were violated during an illegal search and seizure, it is essential to obtain skilled legal counsel immediately.
If you believe there is an outstanding warrant against you, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney.
This is true even if it’s been outstanding for several years. At Sayegh and Sayegh, our experienced criminal defense lawyers have successfully protected the rights of countless individuals who have been charged with crimes.
The article below provides useful, detailed information on how to deal with an outstanding warrant in NYC. Contact a skilled defense attorney today at (914) 222-8161 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Types of Warrants in New York
There are multiple types of warrants in New York, and the circumstances surrounding your case will largely dictate the type of warrant you are facing. While not all warrants lead to arrest, all warrants can lead to arrest. This is even true of warrants issued in civil (not criminal) cases, such as for failing to appear in court.
Trying to dodge a warrant is never a good idea; constantly fearing that law enforcement will show up at your home or work and take you into custody is stressful, to say the least. But it doesn’t have to be this way. An experienced NY defense attorney may even be able to withdraw the warrant.
When police suspect that criminal evidence may be found in a home, vehicle, or on a specific person, they may obtain a search warrant to conduct a search of that property or individual. In order to obtain this warrant, law enforcement must convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred, and that evidence of that crime may be found by searching a specific home, office, vehicle, other property, or person.
A search warrant describes the specific property or individual to be searched, as well as exactly what police are allowed to search for. If, for example, a warrant specifies that police can search a detached garage for marijuana plants, it does not also permit police to enter the adjacent home.
Furthermore, police are only permitted to search for marijuana plants. If firearms or other contraband are found in the search for marijuana plants, law enforcement may seize those as well. However, they can’t actually search for anything other than the marijuana plants.
It’s easy to see how law enforcement can overstep their bounds in such a search, using something minor (marijuana plants), for which they have probable cause, to search for something major (firearms or other contraband), about which they simply have a hunch.
Reasonable suspicion is not enough to obtain a warrant, but that doesn’t always stop police from finding a loophole. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to work with an experienced Yonkers criminal defense lawyer if you are faced with a search warrant.
When Warrants are Not Necessary
Without an official search warrant signed by a judge, law enforcement generally cannot perform a search. There are exceptions, however. In some cases, searches occur without warrants out of necessity, but the courts are very specific about how, when, and why these warrantless searches can take place.
- When incriminating evidence is in plain view—If evidence of a crime can be seen without conducting a search, a law enforcement officer generally doesn’t need a warrant to enter the property or search the person. This is known as the plain view doctrine. But there are certain stipulations, including that the officer had a legitimate reason for being in the area in which the evidence was spotted, and that there is probable cause to associate the evidence with a crime. For example, if police pull you over on legitimate suspicion of DUI, and subsequently see a gun and a hypodermic needle on your passenger floor, they may seize the gun and drug paraphernalia without first obtaining a search warrant.
- During an arrest—If you are being arrested for a legitimate reason, police do not generally need to obtain a warrant to search your person and the area within your immediate control. For example, let’s say that police are called to a home because a neighbor complained of late night shouting. They arrive to find two men with guns pointed at each other in the front yard. After arresting the men, neighbors say there was a third man with a gun, but he ran back into the house as soon as police sirens could be heard. In this case, police may conduct a “protective sweep” of the property because they have good reason to believe that another person, who may be armed and dangerous, is hiding in the property. Again, there is a lot of gray area when it comes to protective sweeps. If you believe that a “protective sweep” occurred in violation of your constitutional rights, it is essential to consult with a defense attorney immediately.
- When consent is given—If the person consents to a search of his/her person or property, the police are allowed to conduct a search. But it must be limited to only what the individual agreed to. If Barry agrees to let police search his backyard, but they also enter the garage, any evidence found in the garage may be deemed inadmissible. In fact, with good legal representation, even evidence found in the backyard may be deemed inadmissible, as police violated Barry’s constitutional rights by entering the garage without a warrant or his express permission. The person giving consent must also have the authority to do so.
- In emergency situations—If police reasonably believe that pausing a search to obtain a warrant would jeopardize someone’s safety or result in the destruction of important evidence, they may be able to conduct a search without a warrant. For example, if police are called about a domestic dispute and while they are waiting for someone to answer the doorbell, they hear a man yell, “I’m going to kill you, Karen,” they can rush in and arrest the suspect without first obtaining any type of warrant.
Not all warrants are linked to criminal offenses or suspected crimes. If you are scheduled to appear in court and you fail to show up or provide a valid excuse, the judge may issue a bench warrant against you. Although a bench warrant does not necessarily compel police to actively look for you, an unresolved bench warrant almost always ends in arrest.
The first moment you have any encounter with the police, whether for a traffic ticket or other minor infraction, they will run your name as protocol, revealing the bench warrant. At that point, police have no choice but to take you into custody.
Bench warrants are often issued in civil or criminal cases when the defendant fails to appear at a court hearing, but they can also be issued when an individual fails to comply with court orders, and even to compel a subpoenaed witness to show up in court. As with all warrants, it is best to seek legal counsel and resolve a bench warrant immediately to prevent additional penalties and fines.
If you have been accused of a crime and indicted by the grand jury, an arrest warrant may be issued against you.
This type of warrant authorizes police to seek you out, place you under arrest, and take you into custody. It typically names the crime of which you are being accused and provides guidelines for how your arrest should be handled.
Generally speaking, police can search for you wherever they believe you are likely to be, which can include your place of employment. The outcome of an unresolved arrest warrant can be extremely embarrassing; nobody wants to be escorted out of their workplace or home.
Similar to a bench warrant, arrest warrants can be issued when you have failed to show up for a criminal trial or court date. When the criminal offense was minor, a bench warrant may be issued, but failing to appear on more serious charges will likely result in an arrest warrant.
When an individual who has been charged with or convicted of a crime flees to another state or country, he/she is considered to be a fugitive. In these cases, the state governor must issue something known as an extradition warrant, which effectively allows the fugitive to be sought out and sent back to his/her home state.
The term “extradition” refers to the process of transporting an accused or convicted criminal from one state or country to another. For example, if you are charged with felony assault in New York and flee to California to avoid trial, New York can extradite you and try you under its jurisdiction. Extradition warrants can be issued in criminal cases involving felonies, misdemeanors, and even for probation violations.
There is a Warrant for My Arrest. What Should I Do?
If there is a warrant for your arrest, there are several steps to take that can help you mitigate any resulting damage. Nobody wants to deal with a warrant, but ignoring it will only lead to more problems. Eventually, it will come back to bite you.
For example, if you are pulled over for running a red light and police discover a bench warrant for missing a child support hearing, you will likely be placed under arrest. Now, in addition to any ramifications for missing the court date, you will incur additional fines, and you may even find yourself with a criminal record. Don’t let things spiral out of control simply because you don’t want to deal with a warrant.
Seek Immediate Legal Counsel
An experienced New York defense attorney will review your case to determine how to move forward. Step one is to determine if you actually have an active warrant.
Once that has been verified, your attorney will review the details of the warrant, gather important information, and formulate an effective legal strategy for your unique situation. In some cases, it is simply filing a motion to have the warrant withdrawn. Don’t try to dodge a warrant. It never works, and it’s never worth it.
Contact Sayegh and Sayegh Today
When you are facing an arrest warrant or any type of criminal charge, it is in your best interest to seek immediate legal counsel. The skilled legal team at Sayegh and Sayegh will thoroughly review your case, determine the best legal strategy, gather evidence, and position you for the most favorable outcome. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom.
No matter what your circumstances happen to be, our NY defense team will position you for the best possible outcome so that you can move on with your life. People make mistakes; don’t make another one by failing to hire solid legal representation. Contact Sayegh and Sayegh today at (914) 222-8161 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.