Turning Yourself In
If you know that there is a warrant out for your arrest because you didn’t show up for court or police have contacted you, you might be wondering how to turn yourself in. If you ever find yourself in this situation, the criminal defense lawyers at Kurtz & Blum want you to be prepared.
Below, we discuss everything you need to know about turning yourself in. You can also contact us directly if you have an active warrant and would like to turn yourself in, would like legal advice about your case, or need help in negotiating your surrender.
Benefits of Turning Yourself in to Police
If you are wondering, “What are the benefits of turning myself in?” you’re not alone. Many people are worried about what happens when you turn yourself in for a bench warrant. However, there are some benefits of turning yourself in, including:
- You avoid the embarrassment or uncertainty of police showing up unexpectedly to arrest you
- You can resolve having an active arrest warrant on your record
- You increase the odds of getting bail because you are showing you want to handle business and are not a flight risk
- Your cooperation can be considered by the prosecution when it offers a plea bargain
- You can minimize expenses of being arrested unexpectedly. For example, you may avoid having your vehicle seized
Turning Yourself In Guide
The criminal defense lawyers at Kurtz & Blum have prepared this guide to help inform you about what to expect when turning yourself in for a warrant. Here are the most important things you should know:
Call the Local Sheriff’s Office
Before turning yourself in, you will want to call the local sheriff’s office. In North Carolina, county jails are maintained by the county sheriff’s office. Rules vary by sheriff’s office, so if you have any questions before turning yourself in, contact your local sheriff’s office for specific details and rules. It is often best to turn yourself in on a weekday other than Monday or Friday and as early in the day as possible. Choosing the best time to turn yourself in can possibly mean limiting your time in jail and getting out sooner.
Once arrested, you will not be able to leave until bond is set. A judge or magistrate sets bond depending on the nature of the charges and the court calendar. The magistrate’s job is to talk with you and see where to set your bond. Usually, the magistrate has a range of possible bonds for each potential crime. The magistrate must decide where to set your bond within that range. The magistrate considers several different factors when determining where to set your bond:
- The seriousness of your offense
- How dangerous it is to release you
- Whether you will show up to future court dates if released
If a magistrate cannot see you and a judge sets your bond during a bond hearing, a criminal defense attorney can be present to assist you if you have retained their services beforehand. A lawyer can also help you arrange the necessary bail bonds to secure your release.
If a secured bond is required, the bail bondsman will sign the court paperwork telling the court that you will be present at the next court date and as required throughout the process.
Your Right to Remain Silent
While in custody, anything you say can and often will be used against you in a court of law. You can often protect your rights by exercising your right to remain silent and refusing to answer any questions without legal representation.
People often have the urge to talk to police about their case so they can “set the record straight” or have their side of the story heard. This impulse is understandable. It can also lead to you being convicted or weaken the negotiating position of your attorney. No matter how nice a law enforcement officer is being, you were not asked to allow yourself to be arrested because the police wanted to be your friend – the police are trying to get you convicted of a criminal charge. Even the most innocent statements about the events that led to your arrest can be interpreted negatively in a court of law. It is better not to say anything at all than to say the wrong thing to the police.
If you have any medical conditions that require specialized prescription medications or equipment like hearing aids, call the county sheriff’s office ahead of time to ask what the medical procedures are for inmates in county lockup. Policies regarding prescription medications and medical equipment can vary from county to county, sometimes changing quickly without notice. Calling ahead will make it more likely that you are getting the most up-to-date information.
What Happens When You Go to Jail?
When you go to the police station, you will be “booked.” Law enforcement officials will take your fingerprints and confirm your identity. You may be told when your bond hearing or next court date will be. Keep in mind that anything you say while in custody can be used against you, so be careful. Other inmates might try to trade off what you tell them to reduce their own jail sentence.
What You Should Bring
When you show up at the police station, wear suitable clothing. There is no need to be in your Sunday best. Instead, we recommend that you wear casual or wrinkle resistant clothing. It may take some time for you to go through the formal booking process, so you want to be comfortable. Avoid bringing unnecessary clothing items, such as extra clothes, ties, scarves, or accessories. We also do not recommend that you bring jewelry – not even a wedding ring.
After you cross the jail lobby, you should have only those items that are necessary for your processing, such as your driver’s license or other federally issued photo identification to confirm your identification. Avoid bringing unnecessary items with you, such as cell phones or personal data assistants.
As part of the booking process, you will be searched. Items may be confiscated if they are considered contraband, such as:
- Pocket knives
- Tobacco products
- Nail files
You will not be allowed to use your cell phone after you have been booked. Write down or try to memorize your emergency contact’s phone number in case you need to contact them after you have been processed. Some people write down phone numbers on their arm so they can be sure they have access to them.
How Kurtz & Blum Can Help
If you would like to negotiate your surrender or need legal advice about your case, contact Kurtz & Blum. We’re in your corner. When you hire us, you benefit from over half a century of combined legal experience because our whole team works on your case. We can discuss your legal rights and options during a confidential consultation.