What to do if you have a Warrant for your arrest

What do I do if there is a Warrant out for my arrest?

Don’t panic. Many people call our office everyday with this very situation. The first thing to remember is a warrant is an allegation, not a conviction. You are presumed innocent and your charge may be dismissed in the end. My goal here is to give you some pointers to navigate the process.

A 3 Step Process

First, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can discuss the case with you, and give you more specific advice about your situation. He or she will also remind you to remain silent when speaking with the police. You have a right to remain silent and have a lawyer present at all custodial interrogations. Use your rights. Your lawyer will also be able to request a bond reduction if your bond is set too high. That is why it is important to hire your lawyer before hiring a bonding company.

Second, contact a bonding company. In Memphis, there is usually no way to avoid going into custody on an arrest warrant. This is not to be confused with a bench warrant, which I discuss here. A knowledgeable bonding company can give you a rough idea of what your bond is likely to be based on your charges, your criminal history, employment history, and residential history. They will also need to know who will be paying and/or co-signing on your bond. You will want to discuss this information with the family and friends who will be making your bond.

Finally, plan how and when you will turn yourself in. Do not take expensive clothing or personal items to the jail. Remember, all of this will go into jail property, and it is often hard for you or family members to retrieve these items. Additionally, anything you take with you, such as a wallet or phone, is subject to search. I would be sure to leave these items with friends or family. I recommend that my clients take an ID, around twenty dollars in cash, and wear comfortable cheap clothing.

When should I turn myself in?

As far as the best time to “turn yourself in,” I recommend you do it as soon as possible, preferably on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. If you go to the jail during high-traffic (nights and weekends) it will take much longer for you to process into the jail. In other words, you will be waiting for a long time. You will want to go earlier in the week so you will have your first court date before the week is out. It usually takes 48-72 hours (not including weekends or holidays) for you to have your first court appearance after entering the jail. If you have hired a lawyer, he or she can start working on your case at that first court date. If your family and friends have had trouble making your bond, your lawyer can start to address that problem at your first court date.

Contact an Experienced Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney

I hope these tips help if you or a loved one are ever charged with a crime in Memphis or Shelby county. For further information, you can check the status of Shelby county warrants. You can also to check the court date, charges, and bond amounts of a Shelby county inmate. Lastly, our office is equipped to handle criminal matters if you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.


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Posted in Criminal Defense, Jail, Warrant

I Received a Bench Warrant…Now What?

What is a Bench Warrant?

Daniel Hamilton is a Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney

Many of my clients call me  about Bench Warrants. In fact, it is a frequent occurrence in Memphis, and I’ve had a lot of experience getting bench warrants recalled. If you get a Bench Warrant in Memphis, Tennessee, call Daniel Hamilton at (901) 612-2176 .

If you miss your court date, the judge issues a Bench Warrant. A Bench Warrant is basically an order for the authorities to arrest you. Once a Bench Warrant is issued, the police will begin looking for you and will place you under arrest. Once the police arrest you, the clerk will give you a new court date. Unfortunately, you may have to wait for that court date in jail.

Sometimes the new court date is for the day after the arrest. In other words, if your arrest is on Monday, you could be on Tuesday’s docket. However, if your arrest is on a Friday, the earliest docket is Monday morning. This means you will have to spend the weekend in jail. This is not guaranteed; you might be in jail longer. Make sure you are aware that if you have a Bench Warrant issued against you, your arrest is likely. You should take care of any pressing financial matters as soon as possible, especially if you are not planning to hire a lawyer.

What Should I Do Now?

Often, an attorney can help you try to get the warrant “recalled.” Rather than wait for the authorities to arrest you, you can have an attorney ask that a judge recall the Bench Warrant. The attorney can explain your situation (why you missed your court appearance) to the judge. Afterwards, the judge may choose to recall the Bench Warrant.

If you have received a Bench Warrant:

This is the Cycle you want to avoid. Make sure you keep up with Court Dates.

  1. Hire an attorney. The sooner the process starts, the better chance you have for getting a recall.
  2. Make sure your reason for missing court is legitimate. If possible, bring proof of where you were on the day of court (i.e. hospital, work, jail, etc.).
  3. Start the process early in the morning. The attorney has to get many files together in the courtroom to try to get the warrant recalled. The attorney needs time to get these things done.
  4. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to get your Bench Warrant recalled, make sure it doesn’t happen again! If patterns occur, judges might hesitate to recall a Bench Warrant. Be sure to know when your next court date is and show up on time.
Posted in Blog

10 Frequently Asked Questions about DUI in Memphis

Daniel Hamilton is a Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney

Note: This information is applicable to Tennessee DUI law as of May 10, 2015. DUI laws in Tennessee are subject to change, and they change often. This post is not offered as legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking a criminal defense attorney for legal advice about a DUI arrest and/or associated charges, contact Memphis Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel Hamilton directly at (901) 612-2176 .

1. If I am charged with a DUI Offense, should I hire an attorney?

Yes. You should hire a criminal defense attorney who knows the DUI laws and criminal procedure. DUI laws change often, and it is often hyper-technical. A DUI conviction carries serious consequences such as loss of driving privileges, jail time, loss of a vehicle, increased insurance rates, and often can lead to job loss. Additionally, a DUI Conviction cannot be expunged. In other words, there is only one chance to avoid a DUI conviction. You should hire an experienced DUI attorney and develop a strategy for fighting the charge.

2. What are the “tricks” to beating a DUI Charge?

There are no “tricks” to beating a DUI charge in Tennessee. There are, however, many legal opportunities that can arise based on the facts of each specific case. For example, did the officer have a valid basis for stopping the vehicle? Did the officer follow proper procedure? Did the officer need a search warrant? What does the video for the stop show? If a blood sample was drawn, was it properly handled and tested? An experienced DUI attorney will know to look at these issues and see if legal opportunities arise as a result.

3. What is a DUI in Tennessee?

As of May 10, 2015, the DUI statute in Tennessee reads as follows:
It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state, any shopping center, trailer park, apartment house complex or any other location which is generally frequented by the public at large, while:

  • Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess;
  • The alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more; or
  • With a blood alcohol concentration of four-hundredths of one percent (0.04%) and the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle as defined at § 55-50-102.

4. Can I be convicted of DUI if someone else is driving their vehicle?

Yes. If you knowingly allow an intoxicated person to drive your vehicle, both of you could be charged with a DUI Offense in Tennessee. This is known as “DUI by Consent” or “DUI by Ownership.” If you knowingly allow an intoxicated person to drive your vehicle, both of you could be charged with a DUI Offense in Tennessee. This is known as “DUI by Consent” or “DUI by Ownership.”

5. Can I get a DUI Charge in Tennessee if the vehicle is parked and the keys are not in the ignition?

Yes. The issue here, as stated in the DUI statute, is “physical control.” There are several cases in Tennessee interpreting these words and applying them to situations where the vehicle is in park, and the driver is either unconscious or asleep in the vehicle. There are several factors that the trial court will look at to decide whether you are in “physical control” of the vehicle. If you are facing a DUI charge involving the interpretation of “physical control,”  you should hire an experienced DUI attorney.

6. Should I blow into a Breathalyzer, take a blood test, or refuse?

The decision to take or refuse a Blood, Breath, or Urine test during a DUI stop is a critical decision which can yield many different results.

It depends. This is perhaps one of the most common questions asked, and, unfortunately, there is no clear answer. There are more factors to this decision than there is room for me to discuss in this article. If you do not offer a blood, breath, and/or urine sample, then you may have violated the implied-consent statute. If so, you may lose your license, even if you are not convicted of DUI. If you do give a sample, assuming the proper procedure was followed and the alcohol content is in fact over the limit, then you may have provided the officer with the best proof of a DUI. Once convicted, you will lose your license

7. Can the officer make me take a blood-alcohol test?

Yes, but only under certain circumstances. In recent years, the Tennessee Legislature has passed several laws requiring forced blood draws. Some of these circumstances include: children in the car, prior DUI convictions, crashes with injury, etc. A common issue that arises in these cases is whether the officer was required to obtain a search warrant before drawing blood. There are recent federal and state cases addressing these issues. If you are facing a DUI charge in which there was a forced blood-alcohol test, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney.

8. Once convicted, will I lose my license?

Yes.  If you are convicted of a DUI offense or for violating the Implied-Consent statute, you will lose your license. As of May 10, 2015, the Implied-Consent statute provides in relevant part:
Any person who drives a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of that person’s blood, a test or tests for the purpose of determining the drug content of the person’s blood, or both tests. However, no such test or tests may be administered pursuant to this section unless conducted at the direction of a law enforcement officer having reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving while under the influence of alcohol, a drug, any other intoxicant or any combination of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants as prohibited by § 55-10-401, or was violating § 39-13-106, § 39-13-213(a)(2) or § 39-13-218.

9. Will I be able to drive a vehicle if I am convicted?

It depends on the conviction and circumstances of the case. In many cases, if you are convicted of DUI or violating the Implied-Consent statute, you may request a Restricted Driver’s License or an Ignition Interlock Device. If the court allows, you may be able to drive your vehicle during the suspension period.

10. What are the minimum penalties for a first-offense DUI?

The penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of a first offense, but the following are the typical minimum penalties:

  • 48 Hours in Jail
  • $350 Fine;
  • Court Costs;
  • Loss of Driving Privileges for One Year;
  • 24 Hours of Litter Pick Up;
  • Alcohol or Drug Treatment Assessment and/or Treatment Program; and
  • Alcohol Safety Class and/or Victim Impact Panel Attendance.

Again, depending on the circumstances, there can be additional penalties. It is best to discuss the facts of your case with an experienced DUI attorney.

Posted in Blog