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What to do when there's a warrant out for your arrest

What do you do if you've just found out that there's a warrant out for your arrest?

Unless you've been down this road before, you're probably more than a little scared. Stay calm and stay focused, however, because there are some definite things that you need to keep in mind:

1. If you find out there's a warrant out for you because you just got arrested, stay calm. Many people get arrested on warrants during routine traffic stops. When the officer checks your information against the police database a warrant can pop up -- leaving the officer no choice but to arrest you. He or she can explain the charges against you, the date of the warrant and place it was issued, but very little else.

2. If you find out through some other means, double check your information. While your source may be reliable, it never hurts to verify what you've been told before you decide what to do next. The simplest way to verify that there is a warrant out for your arrest is to either check online (since most jurisdictions now have an online database that will allow you to search for that kind of information) or contact the police directly by phone to ask if it is true.

3. Don't run. Whether you're facing an officer who has just told you that you're under arrest or listening to the bad news about a warrant over the phone, trying to flee isn't a good choice. It will just result in additional charges.

4. Don't protest your innocence, even if you are. Don't speculate about the reasons for the charge, even if you're really not sure. It's always possible that this is a case of mistaken identity, but you want to observe the golden rule that all criminal defendants should know, which is "say nothing unless you are saying it to your attorney." Always remember that anything you say is being noted and can potentially be twisted against you in some way. Silence, on the other hand, won't ever hurt you.

5. If you aren't already under arrest, you'll have to turn yourself in -- but you should contact a criminal defense attorney first. He or she may be able to do a little advance negotiation that will get you booked and out on bail relatively quickly, depending on the charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Arrest," accessed May 19, 2017

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