People who have a bench warrant in Maryland don’t always realize they face imminent arrest. It’s important to know if you have a bench warrant in Maryland to take action that could keep you out of jail. Bench warrants are court-issued writs. The courts in Maryland issue arrest warrants, search warrants, and bench warrants, the most common kind. Every year, Maryland courts issue thousands of bench warrants for people who fail to make court appearances or breach their bail conditions. The first mistake many people make is failing to take a bench warrant seriously. A judge can issue a warrant if you fail to show up for a court hearing related to a public order offense or a more serious ‘must appear’ traffic citation.  You can also receive a bench warrant if you don’t appear as a witness at a criminal hearing. Baltimore bench warrant lawyer Randolph Rice answers the question “How do you know if you have a bench warrant in Maryland?’ 

How to Find Out if You Have a Bench Warrant in Maryland

Nobody wants to face criminal proceedings. Defendants often feel they are not in control of their destiny. This is particularly the case if a bench warrant blindsides you and you and end up behind bars.

Law Enforcement Officer Comes to Your Home

When a judge issues a bench warrant, the court will usually forward the warrant to the police station closest to your home. Most Maryland police or sheriffs departments have warrant task forces that served bench warrants on defendants. Police would likely arrest you and take you to jail. A notice may be left if you are not at home showing you were served with the warrant. Although police officers are likely to visit homes of people accused of felonies, many people don’t get a visit after a bench warrant is issued.

You Are Stopped for Another Criminal Matter

Police don’t always visit people to arrest them after a judge issues a bench warrant. You may not be picked up for months until you encounter a police officer. If a bench warrant was issued against you, it will go into a state-wide computer that is accessed by law enforcement officers across Maryland. The warrant does not expire and is active until you are arrested, turn yourself in, or fight it. When an officer stops you for a minor matter such as a light out on your car, he is likely to check your details on the computer and realize a warrant was issued for non-appearance. Typically, the officer will arrest you at this time.

Check Court Records

Many people who receive bench warrants missed court appearances they knew about. However, sometimes the court failed to send you notification of an appearance due to a clerical error. Even if this happened you will be aware of criminal proceedings against you. If you hear nothing, you likely missed an appearance. You can run an online check to find out if you have a bench warrant in Maryland on case search. Under the Maryland Rules of Procedure, 16-1001 through 16-1011, the public is entitled to view most records held by the state. A Maryland judiciary case search should show outstanding warrants against you. People seeking case information should click on the ‘person’ option. It’s possible to do an exact name search.

Contact a Clerk Court

If you can’t find the information you want online, call the court clerk directly. You should be able to do this anonymously by inquiring if there are any outstanding warrants under your name while ducking direct questions about your identity. You can find the telephone numbers for the courts on the Maryland state website. You should be aware of which  jurisdiction a warrant was issued in and whether it was in a circuit or a district court. The police or the court may trace the number you called in so use a public phone if possible. If you think you have an outstanding federal warrant against you in Baltimore, Annapolis or elsewhere, contact a Maryland bench warrant lawyer for help and the federal court for your district.

Review Your Court Documents

Bench warrants are issued as part of ongoing legal actions. You should have pertinent documentation from the court. If you are aware of your court date and you missed it, you should know a warrant will likely have been issued.  Language in the documents can explain a bench warrant will be issued if you failed to show up on a certain date or did not perform a named task.

Work with a Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a Maryland bench warrant lawyer is an effective way of finding out fast if a warrant has been issued for your arrest.  Your lawyer can find out check this out without raising suspicion at the courthouse. The work your legal representative carries out on your behalf including talking to clerical staff at the courthouse or police departments is protected by attorney/client privilege. Your attorney is not allowed to give any of your information away to a police officer even if the lawyer’s questions raise suspicions.

How Can You Fix a Bench Warrant in Maryland?

Many defendants facing arrest and jail under a bench warrant in Maryland fix the situation. However, there are no guarantees. If you fail to appear for a felony offense you are likely to face a no-bail warrant. It’s typically more difficult to overturn the warrant.

A defendant who fails to show up at court in a misdemeanor criminal case or a “must appear” traffic case may be issued a bench warrant with a preset bail or with instructions for a commissioner to set bail. You can go straight to the district court commissioner’s office to have the warrant lifted, but a commissioner can deny bail.

Rather than turning yourself in immediately when you realize a bench warrant with your name on has been arrested, talk to an attorney. Criminal defense lawyers know how the courts work and how to make the best case in front of a judge. Your lawyer can file a motion to recall or quash the warrant. If he argues your case successful it’s as if it was never issued and you will receive a new trial date. The judge will instead send a summons to your home advising you of a court hearing. You won’t be arrested and you don’t have to worry about posting bail or turning yourself in to the court.

Talk to Baltimore Bench Warrant Lawyer Randolph Rice Today

The stakes rise quickly when a bench warrant is issued against you. You could be arrested at your home and jailed for what started as a relatively minor offense. An experienced Baltimore criminal defense lawyer can give you peace of mind and work with you on a strategy that will not only keep you out of jail but will dismiss the warrant. The underlying criminal case against you remains but dismissing a warrant gives you one less problem to deal with. Criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice has helped clients to beat bench warrants for more than a decade. He also has invaluable experience from working with the Baltimore County State Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State’s Attorney. Please contact him as soon as possible if you believe a warrant has been issued for your arrest at (410) 431-0911.