If you have a warrant or order for your arrest in North Carolina, it gives police and other law enforcement agents the authority to look for you and arrest you wherever and whenever they find you. It could happen at home in front of your family. It could happen at work, church, or school. Being arrested can be frightening and have significant consequences. It is important to know how to handle it, and to consider getting assistance from a qualified North Carolina lawyer right away.

Is there a difference between a warrant and an order for arrest?

A warrant is issued when law enforcement agents determine there is probable cause to suspect you have committed a crime. That means, in their view, sufficient evidence exists to believe it is more likely than not that a crime has occurred and you are guilty of it. That opinion and the supporting evidence is then shared with a grand jury or judge who issues the warrant. An order for arrest is different. That happens if you fail to appear in court when you are supposed to, or you violate a court order. It is irrelevant whether you are under investigation or previously accused of a crime or not. Orders for arrest are issued by a judge without any involvement by law enforcement, basically for disrespecting and/or defying the court.

How do I know if I have a warrant or order for arrest?

If you have a warrant, then law enforcement probably approached you for an interview during an investigation of some kind. If you are ever approached by law enforcement for an interview you should consult a qualified North Carolina lawyer. A lawyer can prevent law enforcement from talking to you, and can also find out from law enforcement if a warrant is issued so you are not surprised. If you do not have a lawyer, the only notice you may receive of a warrant being issued is when you are arrested. There will likewise not be any notice of an order for arrest. If you received a summons to court and you did not show up, then you should assume the judge has issued an order for your arrest and consult a lawyer. The worst thing you can do is ignore the signs and hope it will go away. It won’t. Being arrested by surprise could be embarrassing or even occur in a dangerous situation where you could be hurt.

What should I do if I think I have a warrant or order for arrest?

If you are facing something like this, it can be frightening and the consequences can be life changing. You should immediately consult a qualified lawyer to protect your rights and prevent a surprise arrest where it might be embarrassing or otherwise harmful to you. Warrants for arrest cannot be fixed or recalled, other than by turning yourself in or being arrested. A qualified lawyer can negotiate with law enforcement for you to peacefully turn yourself in with a minimum of inconvenience, and can also present arguments to a magistrate or judge for bail to be set as low as possible so you can be promptly released. Unlike a warrant, an order for arrest can be recalled. If it is done properly, law enforcement will stop looking for you and it will no longer show up if you have an encounter with law enforcement. A qualified lawyer can help you have an order for arrest recalled. You will usually need to appear in court for whatever caused the order to be issued, and at least begin the process of resolving it.

If you think you might have a warrant or order for arrest, you shouldn’t pretend it isn’t happening and hope it will go away. You could be arrested by surprise in a dangerous or embarrassing situation. Instead, you should consult a qualified North Carolina lawyer to help you examine your options for resolving the situation with as little cost and hardship to you as possible.

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