Do you have an open warrant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or Broward County, Florida? Is it referred to as an open capias? If so, we can help. In fact, in most cases, the client is not even required to come to court – which is an important consideration for people out of state.
As criminal defense attorneys, we encounter clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach who have open warrants on a regular basis. In fact, having an open warrant is very common throughout all of Florida. In most cases, we are able to get outstanding warrants vacated without the need for you to come to court. However, this may not be the situation in every case. The following discussion addresses some of the most common questions we encounter in regards to open warrants and capiases.
What do I do if I have a warrant?
If you have an open warrant in Fort Lauderdale (or any other place) the first thing you should do is contact an attorney.
When someone contacts our offices to help them with an outstanding warrant we will immediately research the situation and determine why the warrant was issued, who the judge is, and what the best legal strategy is to deal with the warrant. Knowing the reasons for the warrant, the nature of the charges, and your criminal history (if any), will help us assess the situation.
In most cases, we will then file a “Motion to Vacate Warrant” on your behalf, assuming that is the proper course of action given the specifics of your case. Once the motion is filed, the next step is to argue it in court and appear before your judge. After hearing argument, most judges will grant the motion and then order the warrant lifted. In legal speak, this means the warrant is “vacated.”
Will I need to appear in court?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
Depending on the reason for the warrant, the nature of the charges, and the specific judge, you may or may not be required to appear in court. In many cases it is NOT necessary for you to come to court if an attorney is handling the motion for you. However, you should realize that this is not a set rule and your particular judge may require your appearance.
This is why you need an attorney. Knowing the specifics and who the judge is will help us assess your situation and determine if your presence is required.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Whatever you do, DO NOT ignore your warrant! it will NOT go away on its own.
If you have an open warrant in Fort Lauderdale, or another jurisdiction, at some point in time you will encounter law enforcement and your open warrant will come up. This can happen anywhere in Broward County, the State of Florida, or even the United States because law enforcement uses a warrant database that is accessible by all agencies all over the country.
This can happen during a traffic stop, an arrest, or when you re-enter the United States at an airport or when coming off a cruise ship.
It is much better to deal with these things on your terms through an attorney’s office than from a jail cell in some unknown place at some unknown time in the future. Trust me, these things never come up at convenient times. In a recent case I know of, a man missed a family member’s funeral because he was in jail on a warrant.
Warrants do not expire and they do not go away on their own.
How is a warrant lifted?
A warrant can be lifted by filing a “Motion to Vacate Warrant” or by being arrested on the warrant.
The easy way is when a lawyer files a “Motion to Vacate Warrant” with your judge. Essentially, a motion to vacate asks the judge to lift the warrant. In many cases, a judge will agree to lift a warrant when he/she sees that the person has hired an attorney and is taking steps to deal with their case.
The second way a warrant is lifted is when you are arrested. Upon being arrested, law enforcement will update their computer systems to indicate that the warrant has been served. Once served, there is no outstanding warrant.
If you were arrested outside of the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued, you will remain in custody until the issuing jurisdiction decides whether or not to extradite you. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Meanwhile, you will remain in jail.
If the issuing jurisdiction decides to extradite you, then you will remain in jail throughout the entire process. Depending on how far away you are from the issuing jurisdiction, you may remain in jail for up to a month before returning to the issuing jurisdiction. Once in the issuing jurisdiction, your judge will decide whether or not to release you on bond.