People whose names are on criminal warrants in Maryland don’t always realize they are facing arrest. Warrants carry serious consequences. There are a number of ways to find out if you have a criminal warrant in Baltimore County, MD. Criminal warrants are court-issued writs that give law enforcement officers rights they would not usually have. These include the right to arrest you or to search your property.

Suspects in a criminal case face three main types of warrants in Maryland; bench warrants, arrest warrants, and search warrants. It’s important to know the difference if you have a criminal warrant. Baltimore bench warrant lawyer Randolph Rice explains.

Types of Criminal Warrants in Baltimore County, MD

There are three major types of criminal warrants that exist under Maryland law are bench warrants, arrest warrants, and search warrants.

Bench Warrants

Bench warrants are the most common types of criminal warrants issued in Baltimore County. They are called bench warrants because a district or circuit court judge issues them from the bench. Bench warrants are typically issued in open court when a defendant fails to appear at a mandatory hearing. Failure to appear at any mandatory court date will usually result in the issuing of a warrant regardless of the seriousness of the case.

A judge often issues bench warrants for disobeying a subpoena ordering you to testify in a case, violating probation, or failing to pay court-ordered child support. Bench warrants can be issued for common offenses that don’t carry a jail term like underage drinking or serious traffic offenses that require the defendant to appear in court.

Arrest Warrants

Arrest warrants are issued against people who are charged with crimes. Arrest warrants, along with the details of the charges they contain, are kept secret until they are served. Defendants often have no idea an arrest warrant has been issued against them. The police don’t want defendants to know of an arrest warrant against them because they may seek to escape.

If you believe you have been charged with a crime but have not received a summons or a citation, talk to a Maryland criminal defense lawyer. We can check at the courthouse, or with the sheriff’s office, and look into potential charges. If you go to the courthouse yourself to ask about a possible arrest warrant, you face being arrested on the spot if a warrant was issued.

Arrest warrants are issued by a judge if he or she finds probable cause that a crime has been committed and you committed it. The judge may be convinced of facts based on a police investigation or the testimonies of witnesses. An arrest warrant may be based on a grand jury indictment.

The police will usually track you down if an arrest warrant has been issued against you, particularly if the crime in question is a felony. The police have the right to arrest you at work, at home, on the streets, or anywhere else they can find you. The police will take you to jail until you are arraigned by a judge. The judge may set bond or order you to be held until trial, depending on factors like your perceived flight risk and the seriousness of the alleged crime.

Search Warrants

A search warrant is another type of criminal warrant in Baltimore County, MD. It’s not legal for the police to show up and search your home or person without a warrant unless there are special circumstances.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. Searches are typically considered reasonable when a judge issues a search warrant.

It must be based on probable cause, which means a reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed. Alternatively, specific situations can justify a search without a warrant like checking for weapons after an arrest or the likelihood of evidence being destroyed.

What Happens When a Bench Warrant is Issued in Baltimore County, MD?

When a judge issues a bench warrant, the court will likely forward the warrant to the police station closest to your home. Most Maryland police departments have warrant task forces that serve bench warrants on defendants.

Not all bench warrants are the same. If you fail to turn up at a felony hearing, you will likely receive a no-bail bench warrant. This means you will be held in a cell until your trial. Defendants who fail to show up for a sentencing hearing might lose a plea deal offer that was previously negotiated with the court.

If a court issues a bench warrant for a misdemeanor or a traffic offense, you may receive a warrant with a preset bail or with instructions to the commissioner to set bail.

The recipients of the warrant can go to the district court commissioner’s office to apply to have the warrant lifted. There is no guarantee the commissioner will grant bail.

Can a Bench Warrant Be Issued for a Traffic Citation?

If you fail to show up for a traffic citation matter, you will not necessarily be hit with a bench warrant. Maryland has two types of traffic tickets –  Payable and Must Appear.

The type of ticket is marked on the citation. Failing to appear for a payable traffic ticket will not result in the issuing of a bench warrant. The court will notify the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The MVA will then suspend the driver’s privilege to drive until the fine is paid.

The court will issue a bench warrant if the driver fails to turn up in court for a ‘Must Appear’ traffic ticket in Baltimore County. If you have a court hearing scheduled in Maryland and you fail to show up, a bench warrant will usually be issued. You can make a free Maryland warrant search to find out about outstanding bench warrants against you.

Most people who don’t show up at court forgot about their appearance or did not receive notice of a court date. If you believe a court issued a bench warrant against you, you should contact a Baltimore County bench warrant lawyer as soon as possible.

Will I Know If I Have A Criminal Warrant in Baltimore County, Maryland?

You will not always know if you have a criminal warrant in Baltimore County, MD. Although you should be able to find outstanding bench warrants by making a search of the court databases, unserved arrest warrants will not be on the database. If you believe a criminal warrant has been issued against you in Baltimore, talk to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Can a Baltimore County Criminal Defense Lawyer Stop a Warrant?

A criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to recall a warrant. This process is called a  “motion to quash.” If a judge grants the motion to quash, the court issues a summons for the defendant to appear at a later court or trial date.

If a warrant is recalled, the defendant does not have to go to jail for the breach of a bench warrant. However, this motion does not affect how the original offense is treated.

There is no guarantee that a defense lawyer will be able to get a criminal warrant recalled in Baltimore County, but hiring a lawyer can increase your chances.

Hire a Lawyer for Criminal Warrants in Baltimore County, Maryland

Criminal warrants in Baltimore County and elsewhere are very serious. Even when an underlying offense is a lesser crime like a misdemeanor, you face incarceration for failing to attend court.

If you believe a judge issued a criminal warrant against you or you are unsure, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice has worked as a prosecutor in the past. He knows the serious consequences you face when a criminal warrant is issued and is familiar with the strategies for fighting warrants. Please contact our criminal defense team today at (410) 834-3678.