Bench warrants and alias capias can be unsettling. You may not have realized that you had a court appearance. All of a sudden, you may be pulled over in another state or you go to apply for a job or a loan and somebody tells you that you have a warrant.
I am a bench warrant attorney serving clients in Miami-Dade and Broward. However, many of my clients come from all over the world. Many clients have warrants stemming from arrests that occurred while visiting Miami or Broward.
First and foremost, understand that a warrant will simply not go away. It will remain indefinitely until you take care of it
Not only do you run the risk of being arrested with an outstanding warrant, you may be denied a job, social security benefits, a bank loan, or even housing because you have an active warrant.
It is my experience that most warrants are not the fault of the accused. Clerks offices send court notices to the wrong addresses all the time. Sometimes, especially if you are just visiting Miami or Broward and you get arrested for a felony or misdemeanor or are issued a promise to appear (PTA) for a misdemeanor or criminal traffic offense, you may not be familiar enough with the court system to know which websites to visit to check on your court date.
In the event you are unsure, you can visit the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts or the Broward Clerk of Courts to check on your court date.
If you think you may have a warrant in the State of Florida, FDLE has a warrant database that could help you locate your warrant.
Contacting a Miami criminal attorney or Broward criminal attorney, depending on where your warrant is located, is important. Most of the time, if the warrant is for a misdemeanor and you missed your arraignment (first court appearance), your lawyer can set the warrant aside without you having to be physically present.
For felony warrants, always expect that you must go to court with your attorney.
If your warrant is for missing your trial day, your attorney may be able to set it aside without your presence. Discuss with your attorney to see if your situation will allow for your presence to be waived.
But most of all, deal with the warrant immediately upon learning about it. We all make mistakes. Judges appreciate people who take responsibility. The sooner you address your warrant, the more likely the judge will be to set it aside and allow you to persist in defending against your charges.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing clients in Miami and Broward.