The most common scenario in which an individual will become the subject of bench arrest warrant is one in which they had failed to appear for a court date. There are other situations in which an arrest warrant may be issued. An example would be a warrant for the rest of a material witness or a witness otherwise placed under subpoena for a trial, who fails to appear. The other common scenario is one in which criminal charges have been filed and, a reviewing a judicial officer has determined that an arrest warrant appropriate measure to bring the target before the court. In this situation, the target is unlikely or will not know that the warrant has been issued until they are arrested under its authority.
On the other hand, where a defendant has failed to appear for a duly noticed court appearance, typically the information regarding the existence of a warrant is available on Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search. I’ve spoken to many individuals who find they are the subject of an arrest warrant through a perusal of this state database. Where one has learned of their arrest warrant there are two options:
Turn yourself in and either post bail or wait to be taken before a reviewing judge, or, asking the court to quash or recall the warrant.
The initial advice must be that insofar as there is an outstanding order of the court demanding that you be taken into custody, surrendering to the authorities is the proper course. Having said that, I've spoken to countless individuals over the years who have valid reasons for their failure to appear. Not that a warrant should not have issued, but, rather that a reviewing judge would excuses the failure were the full facts known. Since spending a day or two in jail is typically unpalatable to most individuals, I will focus on the second option. An experienced criminal defense attorney can be invaluable in getting a court to set aside a warrant for his or her client’s arrest. Indeed, in our experience, many judges will not recall a warrant unless the target has retained counsel who makes a representation to the court that the target will appear for all future court proceedings. While I can certainly envision scenarios in which a reviewing judge may recall, quash or set aside an arrest warrant for an individual not represented by counsel, those are relatively rare events, in my experience. It is my standard advice that anyone seeking to recall a warrant for their arrest must employ an experienced criminal defense lawyer to assist them in that process.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 11/9/20.