We understand it’s scary finding out about a warrant for your arrest. Whether you read the letter or got the phone call, we know that sudden rush of emotion is not a welcome feeling. Unfortunately for many people (whether due to inexperience or not knowing how the process works), a feeling of panic tends to take over; this leads to ill-advised decision-making (such as running away or ignoring the letter). While you should definitely address the warrant, there’s a certain way to go about doing that—just to ensure your safety.

What’s an Arrest Warrant?

Technically, a warrant is a judge-ordered authorization allowing law enforcement to arrest someone suspected of a crime. However, to issue a warrant, there must be a certain amount of probable cause allowing for this. If you have an active warrant, you most likely committed a crime—which has yet to be addressed.

Whether or not you committed a crime (or you believe the warrant was a mistake), you must address the warrant. If you choose to ignore it—believing it’s a mistake—your situation will only get worse, regardless if it actually is a mistake or not. Below, we highlight five important steps to take after finding out about a warrant, to ensure you don’t go to jail.

We should also mention that this in no way constitutes legal advice—if you’re facing legal issues and need formal advice, consult a Dallas attorney.

First: Call the County Clerk Office

The Dallas County Clerk at Renaissance Tower

While this may seem scary, it’s not. The first step you should always take upon finding out about an arrest warrant is to gather information. To do this, simply call your county clerk’s office (click here for the Dallas County Clerk, or here for the Denton County Clerk), or visit them in person. The Dallas County Clerk’s office is located at the Renaissance Tower off Elm Street—down the street from El Centro College. Simply inform them you received a warrant notice, and inquire for details. Here’s a short list of examples to ask:

  • When was the warrant issued?
  • What crime is the warrant for?
  • How much is the total cost of the warrant?
  • What steps need to be taken to resolve it?

The County Clerk will be able to give you the exact information you need to proceed to the next step.

Second: Pay Off Your Fine

While this may seem like an obvious thing to do, it’s important you thoroughly complete step one; sometimes (depending on the original crime), you can’t simply buy your way out of jail. If this is the case as stated by the county clerk, your best bet would be to call an attorney.

If, however, the county clerk states your warrant can be lifted by paying off a fine, by all means, do so. This is the quickest way to remove your active warrant, and ensure you never face an unexpected arrest. However, we understand that this amount can be quite large; especially if your warrant was unaddressed for a long period of time. Which leads us to our next step:

Third: Make a Payment Arrangement

The Dallas County Clerk doing paperwork at his desk

It’s no secret that Dallas and Denton County charge a high price for crime—which makes a payment plan the perfect option for many (if not most). Oftentimes, individuals are able to arrange a payment plan with the county, regardless of the amount. While the specificities vary depending on the county, original crime, and length of time since the warrant was issued, for the most part, the County Clerk’s office informs you of any payment plans available.

However, even with a payment plan, the initial deposit can be hefty. Sometimes you have to pay at least half the total fine; if you’re lucky, your options can be lenient. It’s important to ask diligent questions when speaking with the County Clerk’s office, so you know exactly where you stand. If making a payment arrangement is too difficult, don’t fret—there’s another option.

RELATED: No Cash for a Bail Bond? No Problem

Fourth: Seek Deferred Disposition

a judge gavel with the Texas flag on it

While this option isn’t available to everyone, it’s a valuable asset for many. When you seek deferred disposition, you’re technically asking for probation. Of course, you should only do this after a thorough conversation with the County Clerk; certain crimes are not eligible for deferred disposition, including:

  • Speeding 25 mph over the speed limit
  • Any offense while holding a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)              
  • Passing a school bus
  • ​Any traffic violation in a construction zone with workers present
  • Any alcohol-related violations while under the age of 21
  • Any juvenile case (they must appear in person with a parent or legal guardian)
  • Class C misdemeanor assault, theft, or reckless damage offenses
  • Civil citations

If none of the above applies to you, you’re in luck! You may be eligible for deferred disposition. This option not only keeps a conviction off your record, but ensures your insurance rate isn’t affected! When you apply for this option, you’ll be given a list of guidelines and requirements to complete—if successful, your case will be dismissed. For more information on deferred disposition and to apply online, click here for the City of Dallas’ Court & Detention Services page.

SEE: Spent the Night in Jail? Here’s How to Tell Your Boss

Last Step: Hire an Attorney

An attorney making a serious phone call

If the nature of your particular crime doesn’t allow for any of the above, call a Dallas attorney today. If you find yourself in a legal bind, let a professional attorney guide you through all the necessary steps—safely.

We at DDD Bail Bonds don’t want to see anyone go to jail if they don’t have to. If you follow these steps, you won’t have to (depending on your crime). For more information or to ask one of our bail bond experts for advice, give us a call—we’ll be standing by to help.