Finding out that there is an active warrant out for your arrest can be an alarming experience. What you do after learning about a warrant depends largely on what you know about the reason behind the warrant.
Before you go fleeing to a warm weather country with no extradition agreement, or just turning yourself in, you may want to consider seeking legal advice from an experienced criminal attorney. After all, it will definitely be cheaper than attempting to live the rest of your life on the run.
Should You Turn Yourself In?
While there is an active warrant, if you are stopped by police, you will likely be arrested, even if the warrant was issued out of a different jurisdiction (SCMODS is not just the bane of Elwood Blues). However, if you are not stopped by the police, it may take some time before police ever bother coming to your home, or work, to make the arrest. If the warrant is issued out of a different county, it could take weeks or months to process the warrant through a different jurisdiction. If your work and home address is unknown, you could have a warrant for several months, or even years, without ever getting arrested for it.
If you know that there are serious criminal charges pending behind the warrant, you should retain an attorney, and potentially arrange bail/bond depending on your attorney’s advice, before turning yourself in (assuming your attorney tells you to do so). Frequently, even for serious criminal charges, by retaining an attorney, you may be able to negotiate a favorable surrender, where you can be booked, processed, arraigned, and released on bail, all in the same day.
Sometimes, if the warrant is for a relatively minor violation, such as a bench warrant for a failure to appear in court, an attorney may be able to get the warrant squashed without you ever being arrested. You may not even need to show up to court.
At the end of the day, turning yourself in can go a long way toward receiving leniency from the court or prosecutor. However, it is best to rely on the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney when making any decisions that could have an impact on your case.