Most of us know that the police can’t simply walk into our homes and start searching it unless you’ve given them permission to do so, or if they’ve gone through the correct legal channels and acquired a warrant.
The same is true when it comes to arrests. While there are some exceptions, such as drunk driving, you usually can’t be arrested unless the police have an actual arrest warrant.
What you might not know is that there are both state/local arrest warrants and federal arrest warrants.
The biggest difference between a federal and state/local warrant is the law enforcement agency that is involved in your case.
If a federal warrant has been issued for your arrest, it means that you’re a suspect in a federal crime. To obtain a federal warrant, the agency working on the case must present a federal judge with sufficient evidence that you potentially committed the crime and that the crime is indeed a federal matter.
In some situations, trying to determine if a case is federal or state can be complicated. When this happens, a joint task force that consists of both federal agents and state officers is formed. The joint task force not only allows the different agencies to pool talent and resources but also makes it easier to obtain warrants.
How you should behave if there is a warrant for your arrest depends on how you learn about this information.
If you have heard (or suspect) that an arrest warrant has been issued, but the police haven’t actually knocked on your door, don’t even think about trying to run. Bolting will only make the situation worse.
The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer. Tell them what you know and ask for their advice. They will likely encourage you to turn yourself in. By contacting a lawyer before you’re formally arrested, you can keep them by your side throughout the entire process and make sure that none of your civil rights are violated.
Since the police aren’t currently hauling you to the police station, take a little time to get your personal affairs in order. This is a good time to contact a bail bonds agency and alert them that you’ll likely need a bail bond. If you have children or pets, take steps to make sure they’re properly cared for if you have to remain in jail for a few days. Lock up your home, and make your way to the police station.
If the police show up at your home with an arrest warrant, read the warrant and make sure all the information is accurate. If the information is accurate, calmly and quietly go with the officers. Don’t even think about trying to resist the arrest. Don’t answer any questions, take a plea deal, or discuss the case with anyone until your lawyer has arrived.