Articles Posted in Courtroom procedure

What Are Valid Warrant Requirements

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Recently Fulton County Prosecutors tried to obtain records of the ex-cop charged with murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.  Brook’s death lead to riots in Atlanta and Fulton County.  The State was oddly trying to obtain records of donations to a fundraising account set up by the Georgia Law Enforcement Organization, a non-profit organization, that set-up an account on it’s website to defend Rolfe against the murder charges.  To date, approximately $500,000 has been raised on the site.  The District Attorney argued they wanted the information from the fundraising site to argue that Rolfe may try to skip bail.  The judge the case found that the State lacked probable cause to issue a warrant and denied the prosecutions request for a warrant.  Here is an article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution detailing the warrant request by the Fulton County DA, the response by Rolfe’s criminal defense attorneys, and the judge’s reasoning in the warrant denial: https://www.ajc.com/news/fulton-da-is-denied-warrant-to-probe-garrett-rolfe-fundraising-site/RL2U53UULVET5NW5N2ESYJKDHI/

What happens when you fail to appear for court in Georgia? In most cases, the judge will issue an arrest warrant also called a bench warrant. If this happens, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Understand all your options and take immediate action.

If your case was in city court, traffic court, recorders court or any other court that prosecutes driving offenses, your Georgia Driver’s License may be suspended. If you are pulled over by the police after you missed a court date, you could be arrested for driving on a suspended license. This creates a separate offense from the one you failed to appear for. The sooner you addresses your failure to appear, the better your chance to resolve your situation favorably. Bench warrants and license suspensions will not go away.

The most common failure to appear scenario is when the arrestee moved from the address they gave to the jail at the time of arrest and failed to notify the court, bonding company and prosecuting agency of their new address. Had the arrestee hired a criminal defense lawyer immediately after their arrest, their attorney would have “entered an appearance” with the court. The court would notify the attorney of the court date who would in-turn have notified you and prepared you for your court date.

After a warrant has been issued, if you are questioned by or pulled over by police in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction that issued the warrant, you will most likely be arrested and jailed until the jurisdiction that issued the warrant picks you up and returns you to face the judge or court that issued the warrant. That jurisdiction may or may not pick you up. You could remain in jail for an extended period of time before knowing if you will be picked up or released.

Why should you immediately consult with a criminal defense lawyer if this happens to you?

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can prevent an arrest warrant from being issued for failure to appear. They can also file documents requesting that a warrant that was issued be withdrawn before an arrest or license suspension occurrs. If you are unable to appear in court, attorneys can appear for you and request a court date reset thereby avoiding a warrant or suspension. You have to hire your crimial defense lawyer soon after arrest to maximize your options.
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