Whenever there is a Warrant or a Capias (Court Order to arrest someone), the first reaction is often panic and fear. Once that subsides people tend to want to find out what this is about, and try to resolve it themselves, often by calling either the local sheriff or the clerk’s office. While these offices can be helpful, they are only one stakeholder in the court system, and therefore, the perspective of what they see, and the advice that they may give can be correct, misleading and have devastating consequences.
When a Warrant or Capias is issued, the paramount goal is to resolve the Warrant without the embarrassment of an arrest, and at the same time saving as much money as possible.
Since Warrants and Capiases can originate from several different statutes, rules and procedures; knowing the origination of the warrant is imperative so that the warrant can be addressed, letting you focus on the facts that form the basis of the warrant.
In Hillsborough County warrants include the following:
- Failure to Appear Warrants from the following types of Court Hearings:
- Misdemeanor Arraignment from a Court Notice. It is common for a police officer to respond to a complaint, take everyone’s statement, and then forward this information to the Office of the State Attorney for their review. If the prosecutor decides to file the Misdemeanor charge, then an Arraignment Notice is sent by the Clerk of Court.
Officer’s will often say that you will hear from the clerk’s office in 4-6 weeks.
Since the time frame for this process can last as long as 2 years from when an officer takes statements until the prosecutor files a charge, it is not uncommon for someone to move, and never receive the notice of a court date.
- Misdemeanor Arraignment from a Notice to Appear. If an officer takes everyone’s statement and issues a Notice to Appear, this document will have a court date and time at the bottom near your signature line. That will be the only notice that is given in this procedure, so if the officer documents the wrong date and time, you may well miss the court date through no fault of your own.
- Misdemeanor or Felony Pre-Trials. When a Pre-Trial hearing is missed, this will be more problematic. Whether Felony or Misdemeanor, these hearings are normally set in open court rather than operation of the Clerk’s Office. Most of the time Defendants are present at the previous hearing when the next court date is announced. So, missing this type of hearing can be more problematic if not appropriately handled.
- Misdemeanor or Felony Trials. Warrants that are a result of not appearing at a Misdemeanor or Felony Trial are often higher, and more difficult to withdraw since other witnesses have been subpoenaed for the trial that was missed.
- Violation of Probation Warrants. These Warrants are issued when a person hasn’t complied with the conditions of supervision (Probation, Drug Offender Probation, or House Arrest). These Warrants are issued at the request of the supervising officer, and often are served by surprise when the probationer reports to the office for the nest appointment.
- Capias for Violation of Pre-Trial Release. When a person is released from the Hillsborough County Jail with specific conditions (SCRAM Monitor, No Contact with the Victim, or Substance Abuse Evaluation and/or Counseling to name a few), the failure to fulfill these conditions will result in a Capias being issued for violation of the terms of release.
- Failure to Pay Child Support. If a person falls behind in Child Support, and fails to attend the Child Support Enforcement Hearing, the Court likely will issue a Capias. This Capias will have a purge amount (amount to be paid to secure release from the County Jail), and until that amount is paid, or you are brought over to the Judge who issued the Capias; you are not able to bond out of jail.
- Direct File Warrants. These are Warrants that are initiated by a police officer who has begun an investigation regarding potential felony charges. When this information is presented to the Office of the State Attorney, and the prosecutor believes that there are sufficient facts for Probable Cause, an Arrest Affidavit will then be prepared and presented to a judge. If the judge agrees there is Probable Cause, then a Warrant will be issued, and a pre-established bond amount.
This type of Warrant is considered privileged, and the Clerk of Court will not provide any information about this Warrant, until that Warrant is issued and served on the accused. An experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney will still know how to secure this information to assist his or her client.
- Out-of-State Warrants. These are Warrants that are issued by a court in another state, and can be difficult to resolve. If the other state wants to Extradite (bring back to the state that issued the Warrant), often bond cannot be posted, and it can take up to several months for the transfer from the local county jail to the court that issued the Out-of-State Warrant.
- Florida Warrants. Just because a Warrant is issued in another county in Florida, doesn’t mean that it will be ignored. Police officers’ that verify an outstanding Warrant for a Court outside of Hillsborough County will serve the Warrant, arrest the person, and that person will stay in Hillsborough County Jail until transportation arrangements are made with the County where the Warrant was issued. Normally, local judges do not have authority and will likely refuse to modify or reduce the bond.
As you can see, the types of Warrants and Capiases are varied, and each should be handled based upon how the Warrant was issued.
Below are some of the ways that Warrants can be handled to avoid an actual arrest at your home or at your work, not to mention trying to save money in the posting the bond itself.
- Securing a Stipulation to Withdraw Warrant with the prosecutor handling the charge itself.
- Calendaring a Motion to Withdraw Warrant in front of the Judge who issued the Warrant. Depending on the reason for the Warrant and other issues, sometimes these Motions can be granted without the need for you to appear in front of the Court. It must be noted that most judges have their own procedures for these hearings so it is imperative that your attorney has knowledge of these rules.
- Arranging a Turn-In to address the Warrant, and perhaps some of the facts that form the basis of the Warrant. These Turn-Ins sometimes require you to appear in front of the Judge or turn yourself in at the jail in advance. In cases in which you must turn yourself in directly to the Jail, it is imperative to time this so that the least amount of time is spent in jail and still be available for the Turn-In Hearing the next day.
The proper handling of Warrants and Capiases can seek to avoid the embarrassment of being arrested at work in front of coworkers, or at home in front of family and neighbors. One wrong step can have devastating personal consequences to your reputation, as well as to your finances.
If you have, or you think you have a Warrant or Capias outstanding, contact one of the experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates for a Free Consultation at 813-281-2897. We will discuss your options and develop the appropriate strategy to resolve the Warrant and address the facts of your case on your terms.