Do I Have a Warrant for My Arrest in Mecklenburg County?
On behalf of Randall & Stump, PLLC in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, May 7, 2019
You may learn of an arrest warrant at the worst time. A background check finds one, and your job offer’s withdrawn. You could also be pulled over for speeding and suddenly arrested on a warrant you knew nothing about.
An arrest would embarrass you and put your whole life on hold.
Here’s what you need to know about arrest warrants in Mecklenburg County, NC, and how to deal with an unexpected situation properly.
What is an Arrest Warrant?
Judges and magistrates issue arrest warrants to authorize the police to take criminal suspects into custody so they can appear and answer the charges. Before one can be issued, probable cause to believe the person committed the crime must be shown.
Under North Carolina law, probable cause is having “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true.”
The judge or magistrate will then consider the circumstances to decide if you need to be arrested, including:
- Past failures to appear in court
- You may not appear in court if summoned
- There’s a danger you will try to escape, or there will be injuries or property damage
- The severity of the offense
The warrant should have a statement that describes what allegedly happened and why your arrest is sought.
A Warrant’s Pending Against Me
The police may search for and find you, executing the warrant. They may also contact you and arrange for a time when you can turn yourself in. If you learn of the warrant on your own, it’s best to get a lawyer and work with law enforcement to turn yourself in.
Depending on the accusations and law enforcement’s resources and priorities, the warrant may be issued, but they may do little or nothing about it. They may choose to wait until there’s a traffic stop or some other encounter with the police to make an arrest. This can sometimes take years and catch unsuspecting people totally off guard.
How Do I Know If There’s a Warrant Against Me?
For Mecklenburg County, you can visit the sheriff’s website, enter your name, and learn if there’s a pending arrest warrant. If so, you can learn information, such as:
- The case number
- Your alleged crime
- Which jurisdiction issued the warrant
You may also print out the warrant summary.
When & Where Can I Be Arrested?
If there’s a warrant for your arrest, you can be taken into custody in public, in your home, or in your vehicle. If you’re in another person’s home or your workplace, police generally can’t enter without permission. If the owner or person responsible for that location permits officers to come in, you can be arrested.
Warrants From Another Jurisdiction?
Local law enforcement may or may not know what warrants are pending elsewhere. These warrants are often issued by mistake. There may not be probable cause, which may be a case of mistaken identity.
Potentially, any jurisdiction making serious mistakes could issue an arrest warrant for you. Law enforcement where you visited or lived in the past may investigate a complaint, resulting in the warrant.
There’s no entirely accurate database of all pending arrest warrants available to the public. They could come from federal, state, county, and local courts. You could perform online searches for areas where you think a warrant may come from, but the results may not be accurate.
You could directly contact your local police and ask. However, if there is a valid warrant, you would be alerting them to that fact. If you strongly believe there’s a pending warrant from another jurisdiction in your name, contact a lawyer to best address the matter.
Should I Get an Attorney If There’s a Warrant for My Arrest?
Suppose you know there’s an outstanding warrant or believe one’s been issued. In that case, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, warrants can be complex situations in outside jurisdiction about incidents well in the past. You need to deal with potential mistakes carefully and ensure someone is working for your benefit.
Aside from negotiating with law enforcement about the best way to turn yourself in, a lawyer can help resolve things faster and in your favor. This could mean getting the warrant dismissed, withdrawn based on meeting specific criteria, or proving that you did nothing wrong.
What If There’s a Warrant for My Arrest?
If law enforcement contacts you or you learn of the warrant another way, you need to take it seriously and find out what’s going on before making an informed decision. Getting a lawyer involved early helps you avoid mistakes and makes it easier to resolve the issue in an acceptable, reasonable way.
Your attorney should start investigating the charges, highlighting any mistakes or misunderstandings that may have led to the warrant being issued. Your lawyer may also negotiate a plea agreement that may allow you to put this behind you the best way possible.
Usually, addressing this sooner than later is the best way to go. You can prevent a surprise arrest in front of friends, family, or the public. You may also avoid a situation where an inexperienced, poorly trained, or incompetent police officer escalates the encounter, resulting in additional charges and injuries.
Perhaps most importantly, taking a warrant seriously shows that you’re cooperating, which can be helpful when negotiating a plea or if you’re sentenced.
What You Should NOT Do If There’s a Pending Warrant?
If officers come to arrest you, don’t try to escape. Comply and act calmly, but don’t answer any questions about the alleged crime without consulting an attorney.
Don’t try to flee the area, but don’t turn yourself in without speaking to an attorney first. Though you may be fearful for your safety and future, you need to think logically and calmly.
A pending arrest warrant is a problem we can help you address, and you shouldn’t panic.
Contact An Experienced Defense Lawyer
An experienced criminal defense attorney in Charlotte can help you, whether you’re unsure there is a warrant or one’s been issued, and you need to know what to do next.
At Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we’ll make sure you understand your options, ensure you are treated fairly, put together a proper legal defense, and protect your rights. Call us at 980-237-4579, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.