A warrant is a type of order typically issued by a judge or magistrate. Types of warrants for the purpose of this article:
- Arrest warrant
When a grand jury hands down an indictment, or a
- Bench warrant
That are issued when someone does not show up for a scheduled court appointment.
Police typically do not actively pursue people with warrants. Most warrants have no authority outside of jurisdiction. Warrants are typically discovered during traffic stops or when a suspect is arrested on an unrelated charge. If you discover someone with an active warrant you must decide your level of involvement. A civilian is not legally obligated to inform the police if they discover someone has a warrant. If the person is living with you that is different. Failure to report them can result in a charge of Harboring a Fugitive, or Harboring a Felon. You will have to get involved if you want to stay out of trouble.
Your Motives to Report Someone with a Warrant
Why do you want to report someone with a warrant?
- A sense of civic duty
- Protecting the community from a violent or parasitic individual
- Boredom, and seeking some drama or excitement
- To keep yourself out of legal trouble
Being vindictive, vengeful, or sanctimonious and self–righteous, and minding others people business are poor reasons. Other people have to make their own choices, including bad ones.
The Potential Cost of Reporting One with an Outstanding Warrant
- “Snitches get stiches and wind up in ditches” is a frequent refrain in the criminal world. While this is often a dramatic and ominous sounding threat, it is seldom followed up on. It is more often a tactic to deter others from reporting offender to law enforcement and being held accountable. Depending on the nature of the offense, and the past behavior of the person, the extent of criminal connections they have, there could be a degree of risk for reporting someone with a warrant.
- Loss of friendship or family relationship. Turning in a family member or friend is often the last report after multiple warnings, threats, not to cross certain lines, and happens when other options have been exhausted. Even family members and friends, maybe especially family members and friends need to be held accountable, especially if they are making your life difficult with ongoing drama. They may not forgive you of this, or later, they may actually thank you as this was instrumental in producing positive change in their lives.
The Potential Payoff
- By holding an offender accountable for their actions, they may learn they can’t do whatever they want without consequences. This can deter future criminal behavior.
- If the person with the warrant is a family member, you will not enable their bad behavior.
- Setting limits and boundaries with a family member who engages in criminal behavior, whose actions have hurt the family.
- You may be instrumental in removing a violent individual from the community, making things a little safer.
If it is someone you know, consider talking to them about turning themselves in. People with warrants spend their lives looking over their shoulder. Better to turn yourself in instead of waiting to get caught. The reality is our legal system is based much more on resolution than justice. The courts are overloaded, and want to dispose of cases. While there are no guarantees, unless you have done something especially heinous, you may get probation or a suspended sentence, or get several charges rolled into one, or charges dropped if you turn yourself in.
How to Turn Yourself in?
What if you are the one with the warrant? If you have a warrant in another state, you will not be able to go their again without the risk of getting arrested. If you have done something serious, you will have to live in guilt and tension. Can you really enjoy your freedom that way? Are you even actually free? If the warrant is within your own state, depending on the severity of the crime, the police may or may not be actively seeking you. If they have a chance encounter with you, such as a traffic stop, when they run your license they will find the warrant and you will be arrested. Another possibility is that you will be pursued by Bail Enforcement Agents, aka Fugitive Retrieval Agents, aka Bounty Hunters. They operate by very different rules than police officers. They can be armed, and they do not need a warrant to enter your residence, or a residence where they suspect you are staying. They also have a reputation for taking someone down hard if they resists. Even if you care nothing about this, consider how this could affect your family if they are present.
If you are a habitual offender, this outstanding warrant can be looked on as an opportunity to end the cycle of criminal behavior. A warrant hanging over head is a source of stress. Every day you wake up and ask yourself is today going to be the day. You get anxious at the site of police officers, you can’t relax and have trouble sleeping. End it. Take responsibility, take your consequences, and be determined not to repeat this. Start earning some self-respect. See a good counselor, and start working on yourself to be a good mom or dad, a good son or daughter, and a good worker.
- Tell people close to you what’s going on
- Get an attorney
- Take your attorney’s advice
- Follow your attorney’s instructions to the letter
- Go to the local PD (Police Department) with your attorney to surrender yourself.
- Be prepared by saying goodbye to family, and getting any financial affairs in order
Choosing a criminal lifestyle comes with consequences. What the public is often unaware of is the impact criminality has on families. This is an important consideration when deciding to turn someone in with a warrant, or deciding to turn yourself in.