Many people contact our law office having carried the heavy burden of an outstanding arrest warrant for many years. They may have an outstanding warrant in Pinellas County due to a missed court date, a violation of probation, or old charges for which a warrant was issued but never actually resulted in arrest. The fact of the warrant keeps coming up during routine traffic stops out of state, job interviews, or when making an application to lease a residence. Despite the fact that the State of Florida does not wish to extradite, the warrant still remains outstanding and continues to impact the person’s life. If this sounds like your situation, you should know that there are several possible solutions that a defense attorney in Clearwater can employ to get the warrant recalled and to close the case once and for all. There is no time like the present to deal with this issue and to put yourself in a position to move on with your life. Let’s start the new year off on a clean slate.
Negotiation with the Office of the State Attorney
In cases where a person has an old, outstanding warrant, it may be possible to negotiate with the State Attorney’s Office to seek an “administrative nolle prosse.” This is a procedural mechanism that results in the charges being voluntarily dismissed and the warrant being recalled. Not every case is suitable for this remedy; however, the State is often willing to work with people to resolve an outstanding warrant if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
- The outstanding warrant is several years old
- The outstanding warrant is non-extraditable or the State of Florida has declined to extradite on the warrant in the past
- The case does not involve a violent crime or a sexually motivated offense
- The individual who has the warrant lives outside the State of Florida
- The payment of restitution, if any, would be in the best interests of the alleged victim or the State of Florida
Our office can draft detailed, persuasive correspondence that highlights these issues and points out the achievements or personal growth of our client since the case was first filed. The State often takes into consideration a person’s law-abiding behavior since the incident in question. In addition to this, it’s important to offer to make good on any financial obligations, restitution, or fines and costs that may still be outstanding. If we can secure the State’s agreement to resolve the case in this way, it is NOT necessary for our client to return to the State of Florida or have any further court appearances. Resolving the case in this way is invaluable because it allows our client to remain in a stable living and employment situation and not disrupt their life by coming to Florida to turn themselves in.
Have an Attorney Encourage a Judge to Withdraw Your Warrant
Another method is to have a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater file a motion with the judge to withdraw your warrant. This strategy is appropriate where you recently missed a court date in a currently pending case or where the warrant is relatively recent. If the warrant is a “No Bond” warrant (common in Violation of Probation cases), we can request a bond reduction or a release on your own recognizance (R.O.R.) It’s important to note that an R.O.R. is a release that does not require you to put up any money and is, thus, entirely based upon your promise to faithfully respond to all future court appearances.
By coming in voluntarily to court at the date your attorney schedules, you’ll be demonstrating a responsible nature and a high level of credibility. Taking a proactive approach shows the Judge that you are not a flight risk. After all, who would take the time and money to hire an attorney to address the warrant and then later fail to appear in court? In situations where your warrant is associated with a Clearwater misdemeanor or criminal traffic offense and you reside outside Pinellas County or have since left Florida, your attorney may also be able to petition the court to withdraw the arrest warrant without the need for you to return contingent upon the proposition that the case can be resolved through a later change of plea (plea bargain).
Use a Bail Bondsman to Post a Surety Bond
If your warrant has a monetary bond assigned, you can simply turn yourself into jail with the assistance of a bondsman. The bail bondsman will post a surety bond through a licensed Florida bail bond agency. This method is perhaps less preferable to using an attorney since it requires that you be booked into jail and because you’ll be charged a standard non-refundable 10 percent premium of your bond amount. Therefore, if your bail is set at $10,000, then you can expect to pay the bondsman approximately $1,000 in order to purchase the surety bond.
Depending on the size of your bond, the bondsman may also require you to provide collateral for the bond. Take for example, if you have equity in your home or a vehicle that equals or exceeds the bond amount, a lien can be placed on your property in favor of the bail bondsman. Failing to appear in court or comply with any and all conditions the bondsman may impose upon you, like maintaining regular contact with his office, would subject you to the loss of said collateral. A defense attorney in Clearwater is important in this instance as well because we can seek to reduce the bond by appearing before a judge and refer you to a bondsman that is ready to post a surety bond on that amount.
Post the Entire Bond Amount and Surrender Yourself to Jail
Although not generally the preferred method of resolving an outstanding warrant, if you are financially able and the judge has already set a bond on your warrant, you could post the entire bond amount by bringing the cash and presenting yourself to the Pinellas County jail. We say cash here because the jail authorities do not accept payment via checks. A credit card can only be used to post up to a certain amount. Whether or not you are entitled to a refund of the cash amount posted will be dependent upon any outstanding fines, court costs, or financial obligations if imposed later at the time of sentencing. Otherwise, should you post your cash bond in full and make all required court appearances, you will be entitled to a full refund of the cash amount posted, less any fines, court costs, or restitution.
Should you decide to employ this method, an attorney can expedite your booking process and help you secure a prompt release from jail by ensuring your surrender doesn’t occur during a time when the jail is in lockdown as a result of a detention deputy shift change. To speak with a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater who can discuss the best course of action for how to deal with your outstanding Pinellas County warrant and counsel you on strategies designed to resolve your case, get in touch with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.