If you believe that you have an outstanding warrant out of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, or Contra Costa County contact our offices immediately. The experienced criminal defense attorney you will speak with will need to determine if the warrant is a bench warrant or an arrest warrant. With bench warrants, the attorneys work with your bail agent to secure release. Bench warrants are issued when a defendant fails to appear at a hearing. Many courts will allow a bail agent to re-assume the bond (meaning reinstate the previous bond) for a minimal fee. If you have missed a court appearance in Martinez, Walnut Creek, Redwood City, Oakland, San Francisco or any other bay area criminal court, it is likely that the court issued a bench warrant for your arrest. Contact the offices immediately so that one of our criminal defense attorneys can work to arrange a new court date for you.
How Are Warrants Issued
It is important to note that only a magistrate can issue an arrest warrant. All judges in the states of California are considered magistrates. If a police officer wishes to obtain an arrest warrant he or she must “allege underlying facts upon which the magistrate can independently find probable cause to arrest the accused.” People v. Sesslin (1968) 68 C2d 418, 421, 67 CR 409.
The arrest warrant may then be obtained in one of three ways:
- By filing a complaint with the court
- By submitting a written declaration of probable cause (this is also known as a Ramey warrant – People v. Ramey (1976) 16 C3d 263, 127 CR 629); or
- By making an oral declaration of probable cause under oath. This can be done in person or by telephone.
- Probable Cause Required
Regardless which way law enforcement tries to obtain a warrant, probable cause must exist. It is not enough if an officer merely recites the language of the law he or she believes was violated. The judge must then independently judge these facts before issuing the arrest warrant. A judge may refuse to issue an arrest warrant if he or she is not satisfied from the facts presented that a crime has been committed and that the person sought by law enforcement committed it. When looking to determine probable cause the judge must look at the totality of circumstances.
If you believe that you may have an outstanding warrant, contact our San Francisco, Redwood City or Martinez office immediately so that arrangements can be made to secure bail, possibly negotiate the bail amount and secure counsel for impending charges. It is never too early to enroll the help of a bay area criminal defense lawyer.