If you do not show up for a court date in Massachusetts and are in default, it is likely a default warrant will be filed against you. You could be in default because you were arrested, posted bail and were told to come to court the next day to be arraigned, and you never showed up.
Or, you could have a criminal case against you, showed up for several court dates as the case went on and then stopped showing up before the case was resolved. Or you could have been placed on probation, violated conditions of the probation and were told to come to court for a hearing and you did not appear.
Whatever the reasons for not showing up in court for your court date, you probably have a default warrant out against you. And you may not even be aware of it. Without taking the necessary legal steps to remove your default warrant, you could be in serious legal jeopardy. It is important to learn what a default warrant is and how to get it removed so you can get on with your life without having a criminal record.
Remember, in all of the above circumstances and many others, the warrant never disappears; there is no statute of limitations on a warrant. That is why many Massachusetts residents may be shocked to learn 25 years after they did not show up in court, they are stopped for a traffic violation and ar arrested. No matter how long ago, the default warrant is still there.
What a Default Warrant Does
If you were unaware you had a default warrant in Massachusetts, you could be under the very mistaken belief that it is a minor problem. It might even be something you can ignore, right? Wrong. The truth is, a default warrant is a type of arrest warrant that can put you in jail when the police decide to act on it. The major difference between a default warrant and an arrest warrant is Massachusetts law enforcement will not usually actively seek to arrest you with a default warrant. Instead, if you encounter law enforcement for some reason, such as a traffic stop, they will check if you have any warrants and will arrest you at that time.
So, even though the police may not be actively looking for you with a default warrant, understand that sooner or later, that warrant is going to wind up with you being arrested. Virtually everyone ends up interacting with the police at some point in their lives, so it is just a matter of time until your default warrant hurts you. That is why you want to deal with it with a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
How Can You End Up With a Default Warrant?
You could have a default warrant if you failed to show up for:
- Jury duty
- Mandatory family law court date
- Probation hearing in court
- Any other official court summons
One of the biggest problems with a default warrant that is not handled is that it can eventually affect your ability to drive. If you have an active default warrant in Massachusetts, the DMV will probably suspend your license at some point. To lift your driver’s license suspension, you need to deal with the default warrant, and they complete the regular steps to have your license reinstated.
How to Have Your Default Warrant Removed
If you have a default warrant against you, you should resolve it immediately with your attorney at your side. Your lawyer can set a date for you to appear in court to deal with the default warrant. By voluntarily appearing in court, it is more likely the judge will go easier on you as it shows you are not trying to evade law enforcement and criminal charges.
In many situations, if you appear in court voluntarily, the court will have the default warrant removed, and may assess a default warrant removal fee of $50. However, if you have had several default warrants on the case or if the case involved serious criminal charges in Massachusetts, such as a 3rd or subsequent DUI or assault and battery, the court could conduct a hearing to determine if you will need to post bail as a condition of release.
Remember that having a warrant out for your arrest, even a default warrant, can lead to arrest at any time, You might be at home, the gym, work, a friend’s house, or at a family event. If the police discover that you have a default warrant, you can be handcuffed and arrested right there. With a good defense attorney, arrangements often can be made that you will not be arrested for the warrant at all.
It is possible to have an arrangement made to get the warrant removed without going to court, but it is unusual. As noted above, it is always better to voluntarily come to court and have the warrant removed. But if you come to court under arrest, no matter what you say to the judge, you will not have much credibility.
So What's Next
If you are facing a default warrant in Massachusetts or another state, it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney working for you. Do not delay. Do not pretend the warrant will go away. The best way forward is to work with an attorney in a proactive manner and have the warrant taken care of. Attorney Geoffrey Nathan can help you fight your default warrant. For a legal consultation, please contact him at (617) 472-5775.