How to Clear an Arrest Warrant

“There’s a warrant for my arrest! What do I do?
An arrest warrant is a written order, issued by a judge or other authority, commanding the police to arrest and bring someone to court. If there is a warrant for your arrest, you must appear in person at the court that issued the warrant. Go as soon as possible. Your attorney should accompany you.

New Criminal Charges: If a “straight warrant” was issued against you, you will be arraigned.  The court will issue a straight warrant when a criminal complaint or indictment is filed against you and the police convince the court that you should be arrested rather than served with a summons to appear in court. During the arraignment the court will read the criminal charges against you. The court may enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf.

The prosecutor can ask the court to set bail to ensure your appearance at the next court date. A judge may order you held in custody without bail if he or she believes you are a danger. A qualified lawyer can explain to the judge why the court should release you without paying bail or why the court should impose a low bail amount.

Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay: If you were required to appear in court or pay a court fine, but fail to do so, the court will issue a “default warrant” for your arrest.

Probation Violation: If your probation officer believes you violated the terms of your probation, a judge may issue a “probation surrender warrant” for your arrest to make you appear in court for a probation violation hearing.

If you were issued a default warrant, or a probation surrender warrant, you will be required to pay a fee to the court in cash or by certified check, unless there is a good reason for why you cannot pay it that day. If the warrant was issued because you owe the court money, you should be prepared to pay the amount owed.

“What happens if I ignore an arrest warrant notice?”

The police can arrest you at anytime once a warrant is issued against you. Until you clear up your arrest warrant, and depending on the type of warrant, you may face the following consequences:

  • Suspension of your drivers license: Your drivers license may be suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  • Suspension of your public assistance benefits: You can be denied all financial and other public assistance benefits by the Department of Transitional Assistance.
  • Reporting your warrant to out-of-state police: Your warrant may be reported to federal and state police and criminal justice agencies outside of Massachusetts. You may be subject to arrest in other states.
  • Police access to your personal records: The police can obtain personal information about you in order to identify, locate and arrest you. The police can review your unemployment compensation records, your Department of Revenue wage reports or saving account reports and your public assistance records from the Department of Transitional Assistance or the Commission for the Blind.
  • Suspension of your tax refunds, unemployment compensation and workers compensation: You may be denied any state tax refund, any unemployment compensation payments and any workers compensation payments from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Suspension of your permits and professional licenses: Any permit, certificate, professional license or authorization issued by an agency or authority of Massachusetts to participate in a trade, business or profession may become suspended.
  • Charge for your arrest: If you are arrested on a warrant and it is a default warrant or a probation surrender warrant you will be required to pay a default warrant arrest fee to the court or perform one day of community service.

Even if you think the warrant was issued against you in error, DO NOT IGNORE THE NOTICE!

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