Receiving that letter about a warrant is scary, we know. We deal with active warrants on a daily basis, and sit through many consultations with both individuals and families dealing with warrants. While it may seem scary thinking about law enforcement technically searching for you, don’t panic. You do have many ways to work around an active warrant—without going to jail.
Before we start, it’s important to know exactly where you stand with the legal system. Is your warrant due to an unpaid traffic ticket, or for missing a court date? While your warrant letter does state the reason for your warrant, it’s best to gather as much information as you can before proceeding; which leads us to our first (and most important) step.
Know Where You Stand
This is the single, most important thing for you in this moment; find out exactly how hot the water is before stepping in. Before working to resolve your warrant, find out if you’re able to. If your warrant is due to an unpaid ticket, you have options (financial options) to resolve it without facing arrest. However, if your active warrant is due to missing a court date or avoiding/violating your probation, it won’t be as easy. However, there’s something for everyone; and if you’re currently skipping bail or your court date, you can still make the best of your situation.
Your county or district clerk is the single best resource for gathering your legal information. When you call, ask about the warrant notice and your legal status. They’ll ask for some basic information such as your name and birthdate before assisting you. After you learn about your current legal status, ask what your options are to resolve it; they’ll inform you of any payment options you have.
For the Harris County Clerk’s office (in downtown Houston off Caroline Street), click here.
If You Can, Pay Off Your Warrant
If your legal status—and wallet—allows for it, pay off your warrant. This is the fastest, easiest way to resolve your warrant, so you can rest easy driving again. The County Clerk’s office will give you the exact amount required to pay off your warrant, and all the ways you can pay for it. Depending on your unique situation, you may be able to pay off your warrant online or even over the phone.
Other times (depending on the individual and original crime), your options are limited. The County Clerk’s office informs you of your existing options to pay off your warrant, which can be limited according to the severity of the crime. However, we encourage you ask away: can you pay by mail? Can you fax, email, or send a money order?
Ask as many questions as you can regarding your payment options, for your future is entirely in your hands. Speaking of payment options…
Set Up a Payment Plan
If you’re lucky, Harris County will allow you to make a payment plan to resolve your warrant. We know we made that sound like something rare (which it actually isn’t), but it sure feels that way living in Houston, doesn’t it?
In fact, a majority of active warrant cases in Houston and Harris County allow for payment options; maybe even yours. When you ask your County Clerk’s office about any payment plan options, inform them of your financial situation. Even if you can’t immediately make a payment today, you should inform them of your intention to start paying.
If you’re honest and genuine, they may be more open to giving you a full list of options. These options may include specific plans to fit your budget and family situation, or entirely new options altogether. In fact, the Harris County Clerk’s office has a website solely dedicated to available payment options (and where to find more). To go there, click here.
Get Deferred Disposition
Depending on your legal situation, you may be eligible for deferred disposition; depending on where you stand, it may be a beneficial option. Deferred disposition is basically a suspended sentence—one that requires a plea. When you plead either guilty or no contest, the Houston County Courts assess your situation and give you a list of requirements (or conditions) to complete.
However, this option is only available to you on or before your first court date; if you missed your (crucial) first date with the judge, your options are even more limited (the County Clerk’s office will have informed you if deferred disposition is not an option). This takes us to our final step, and the most useful step for severe crimes or missing court dates.
Hire a Lawyer
While the folks at ABC Bail Bonds indeed deal with the legal system every day, certain situations call for legal experts. If your warrant is due to skipping bail, missing court, or something more severe, hiring a lawyer may be your only option to softening the blow. A legal expert will be able to give you official legal advice, tell you if it’s possible to avoid jail time, or if it isn’t.
While we understand legal assistance is expensive, certain situations call for it. If your situation demands an attorney help you but you try to handle it on your own, you may be creating a worse situation for yourself. In this situation, if you don’t want to turn yourself in or go to jail, you need to hire a legal expert. They may be able to give you valuable information that you wouldn’t have found on your own, or with the County Clerk’s office.
Ask ABC Bail Bonds
We understand that even a consultation with an attorney is expensive—that’s why we offer free consultations and advice for anyone needing it. While we can’t extensively assist as much as an attorney can, we’ve navigated Houston’s legal system (and Harris County Courts) long enough to be able to offer valuable insight.