Arrest warrants never expire in New Jersey – and as long as there is a warrant out for your arrest, you remain at risk of being taken into police custody. But how do you find out if there is a warrant for your arrest? And what can you do to protect yourself and limit the potential consequences? The Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain what arrest warrants are, how to find a warrant for your arrest in Atlantic County, and what to do if you have an arrest warrant in New Jersey.
What is an Arrest Warrant?
An arrest warrant is a court-approved legal document authorizing members of law enforcement to arrest a specific individual for a specific criminal offense, typically subject to additional requirements (such as requirements for when the arrest may be made). A warrant for your arrest may only be issued if the police can successfully establish probable cause to believe that you are the person who committed the crime specified. An arrest warrant may also be issued if:
- Your parole or probation officer accuses you of committing a serious parole or probation violation in New Jersey
- You fail to appear for a hearing, in which case the court may issue a bench warrant for your arrest
The arrest warrant is required to contain certain information, including your name and the appropriate venue (court). Additionally, the warrant must be signed by a judge or suitable court official. The signature indicates that a judge found probable cause to believe the named individual committed the pertinent offense. The warrant may also feature information about your bail amount and/or the rules you must obey while you are on bail.
Warrants are more commonly issued for serious offenses, like felonies, which are called “indictable crimes” in New Jersey. Examples of indictable crimes include arson, kidnapping, murder, robbery, sexual assault, and aggravated offenses, such as aggravated assault.
If the offense is more minor, the court may instead decide to issue a summons, such as a disorderly persons summons to appear. However, if you fail to appear, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest, as noted above. It is vital that you attend all court hearings as instructed, no matter how seemingly trivial, in order to avoid a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
How Do I Know if There is a Warrant Out for My Arrest in Atlantic County?
There are several ways to find out if there is a warrant for your arrest in Atlantic County or other counties in New Jersey. In theory, the easiest way to find out about a warrant would be to contact law enforcement. However, in order to avoid accidentally incriminating yourself, you should never contact police officers or criminal investigators before consulting your defense attorney. But if you should not contact law enforcement, what are some other methods of finding out whether you have an arrest warrant in Atlantic County?
Another possibility is simply to look up your name online. There are a number of free databases and search engines that can be used specifically to search Atlantic County warrants and arrest records. For example, bail bond company websites often feature these types of search functions.
Unfortunately, these search engines are not always completely accurate or up to date, which means their reliability is limited. The better, more dependable method of finding a warrant is to contact an Atlantic County criminal attorney, who can handle the process of performing a search in the appropriate government database. For example, your lawyer can search records in Atlantic County Superior Court, which is also known as the Atlantic County Civil Courts Building (which deals with indictable crimes), or in Atlantic City Municipal Court (which deals with disorderly persons offenses and traffic violations). Why is this necessary? Since the government’s arrest warrant records are generally not made publicly available, it may be impossible to search from your own computer or mobile device.
What to Do if There is a Warrant for Your Arrest in NJ
Since a warrant can cause you to be arrested and held by the police, you should know whether you are at risk. Knowing about a warrant also enables you to take swift and strategic action to protect yourself. If you are unaware of a warrant and therefore take no action, not only will you lose critical time, but also vital legal advantages. For example, an attorney may be able to have your bench warrant dismissed, depending on the circumstances.
If you are concerned about a possible warrant for your arrest, the best course of action is to contact a skilled defense lawyer with extensive experience obtaining bench warrant dismissals in Atlantic County. Your attorney can advise you as to your legal options and their potential consequences.
Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys for Arrest Warrants in NJ
If there is a warrant for your arrest in Atlantic City or Atlantic County, you need legal help from a trusted and experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we have more than 45 years of combined legal experience handling felony (indictable crime) and disorderly persons (misdemeanor) cases. We are here to provide the aggressive, around-the-clock representation that you require. Contact us online right away to arrange a free legal consultation, or call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.