Schwartz & Powell

Got Warrants?: Clean Them Up

by Steven D. Powell Attorney at Law

If you have warrants out for your arrest, the only advice a responsible criminal law lawyer can give you is “Clean them up."  For many reasons surrender is your most advisable option.

You should surrender because loved ones who encourage or protect you “on the run” could get in big trouble for harboring and conspiring to harbor a fugitive and you are exposing them to this risk. Somebody could get injured when the authorities finally capture you and you don’t want that. And, if you fail to surrender but are captured, your criminal defense attorneys lose the powerful point “But Judge, he did voluntarily surrender; show some mercy.”

Courts frown mightily on unredeemed runners. Don’t run--if you did then surrender immediately and speak only to your criminal defense lawyer. The best defense attorney in the United States would agree with this advice.

It would be unprofessional, unethical and illegal for Ventura criminal defense lawyers to give you any other advice here in the year 2012.

What about in the judicial circuit around Springfield, Illinois in the mid-1800’s? What did the best defense attorney in town say then?

The best criminal defense lawyer in Springfield, Illinois in the 1850’s was future President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln was an outstanding lawyer practicing both civil and criminal law. He was very accomplished and successful.

On one occasion, as a PBS documentary on Lincoln revealed, Lincoln represented a woman accused of murdering her husband. On a sweltering summer day, the defendant asked for a break from her jury trial and for a glass of water.

The courtroom had no attorney-client conference area so the bailiff escorted Mr. Lincoln and his client downstairs to a room with a window. The bailiff opened the window on this first floor room, brought the woman a glass of water and then withdrew to allow Lincoln and his client privacy to talk.

According to legend, Lincoln and his client discussed the progress of her trial which decidedly was going straight downhill. She complained about the quality of the cloudy water the bailiff gave her. Lincoln looked outside the open window, looked back at his client and said “I know the finest drinking water is in Tennessee.”

Lincoln returned to the courtroom and the bailiff went to retrieve the prisoner. She was gone. The Judge asked Lincoln where she was and Lincoln evidently informed the Judge of his last conversation with her. The PBS documentary says the court clerk’s minutes or records of the trial contain the discussion between Lincoln and the Judge. The Court declared a mistrial, issued a warrant for the fleet footed defendant’s arrest, and moved on to other cases with no further ado.

I can’t even count how many legal obligations modern prosecutors would allege Lincoln violated in that brief discussion of water quality with his client.  Today Lincoln would face serious professional and criminal prosecutors scrutinizing his conduct in this matter.   Modern law requires defense lawyers advise their clients to surrender and defend.

Lincoln’s law was very different than today’s criminal law. Today’s law is clear: a defendant cannot fail to appear in court.  His  legal duty is to surrender and nobody—including the defendant’s criminal defense attorneys—can advise him or her to fail to appear (FTA).

If you or a loved one failed to appear on a case or have warrants out for any reason, you need Ventura County criminal defense attorneys working your cases. We can make new bail motions and defend the underlying cases upon which the warrants issued.  Call Schwartz & Powell  to resolve your legal controversies and help put your life in proper order.  At Schwartz & Powell we have experience in all criminal cases including failures to appear and other warrant related issues.  We have made successful bail motions and have successfully defended many cases upon which warrants had been issued.  Remember, in the defense of this and any criminal case--Experience Matters.