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Warrants in Manhattan

A warrant is a document issued by a court that gives the police the power to make an arrest. New York City has approximately 1.2 million outstanding warrants. Many of these warrants date back years or even decades. In many cases, people with outstanding warrants are unaware the warrant exists until the moment of their arrest.

If you were stopped by the police in the past and you do not recall going to court or paying a fine, there is a good chance that a warrant was issued for you and your case remains unresolved. If a warrant exists for you, the next time you encounter the police and they ask for your identification, they may discover the outstanding warrant, arrest you immediately, and take you to jail under Section 530 of New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL).

If you are under investigation for a crime and a grand jury indicted you, an arrest warrant may have already been issued for you under Section 120 of the CPL.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Manhattan

If you know or suspect you have an outstanding warrant in New York City, you should contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer who will help you find the best possible resolution to your situation. At Greco Neyland, PC, we represent people with bench warrants, failure to appear warrants, outstanding arrest warrants, and other related court issues.

You need a Manhattan criminal defense lawyer who can give your case the personal attention it requires to achieve the best result. Public defenders and legal aid societies have huge caseloads, and in many cases are unable to help people with outstanding warrants from prior cases or an outstanding arrest warrant. At Greco Neyland, PC, we spend the time to thoroughly examine each client’s situation in order to find the best course of action.

With Greco Neyland, PC, you will have a former prosecutor fighting on your behalf, so we know how the process works. We use our knowledge of criminal legal procedure to put our clients in the best possible position going forward. We represent clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn and all five boroughs of New York City. Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation about your warrant situation.


Information Center for Warrants in New York City


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Bench Warrants in New York City

Bench warrants are the most common type of warrant in New York City. Bench warrants are issued by the judge in a number of circumstances under N.Y. CPL 530.70 when it is perceived that you are failing to comply with a request from the criminal justice system:

  • Failure to appear in court when you are scheduled to do so;
  • Failure to pay a fine; or
  • Failure to complete community service.

Warrants often are issued after the police issue a summons for a minor offense, but the offender then the person forgets about the summons and fails to pay the fine or loses the paper showing the court date and fails to appear court. Warrants can also be issued if you fail to make a scheduled appearance in an ongoing case or fail to show up for sentencing after the trial or plea bargain part of your case is completed.

There is a good chance there is a bench warrant out for you if you have been stopped by the NYPD and can’t recall paying a fine for such things as:

  • Drinking in public;
  • Smoking marijuana in public;
  • Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk;
  • Animal and pet violations such as having a dog that is off the leash or without a license;
  • Being in a park after hours;
  • Traffic violations;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Public urination;
  • Loitering;
  • Trespassing;
  • Spitting;
  • Littering;
  • Noise complaints; or
  • Underage possession of alcohol.

Implications of Bench Warrants in Manhattan

If you have an outstanding bench warrant, you are subject to arrest at any time you encounter police.

If you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop, or stopped at a subway station due to a suspicion of fare evasion, or questioned by police who suspect you may be involved in another minor violation, they may request to see your ID, run your ID through their computer system, the warrant will appear, and you will be immediately arrested on the spot. If you are driving a car, it will likely be towed to the impound lot, leading to hundreds of dollars in additional costs.

If you have any outstanding warrants, they can prevent you from obtaining employment, financial aid for education, and other government benefits, even if you manage to avoid contact with the police.

If a bench warrant has been issued against you, contact a New York City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can make arrangements with your attorney to turn yourself in to the court. If you appear in court or on your own, it will go on your record that your return was voluntary. If you are arrested on an active warrant, even if you turned yourself in to police or are on your way to court to turn yourself in, it will go on your record that your return to court was involuntary. You may even be arrested while wandering around the courthouse trying to figure out how to turn yourself in. 

Naturally, judges and others are much more likely to view you in a favorable light if your return is listed as “voluntary” instead of “involuntary.” Additionally, an experienced attorney can help you find a way to explain your failure to appear in a way that casts you in a better light and is less likely to anger the judge.

If you are contacted by police about a warrant, call a New York criminal defense attorney immediately before talking to police, to ensure that your return is listed as “voluntary” and that you are prepared for your court appearance.

In addition to being subject to immediate arrest, it is possible that you will face additional charges such as bail jumping. Even if you were not released on bail, you can be charged with bail jumping in some circumstances when you failed to appear before the court. You can be arrested in New York City by the NYPD for warrants issued anywhere in the state, or even other states. Likewise, if a bench warrant is issued by a court in New York City, you can be arrested in other cities and even other states.

If you have an outstanding warrant, any encounter with police is likely to result in your arrest, no matter where you are or where the warrant was issued. In that case, you will almost certainly be stuck in jail until you are able to make an appearance in the court that issued the warrant.


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Arrest Warrants in New York City

Sometimes, an arrest warrant is issued as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.  

This generally happens when you are under investigation for a crime that you have not yet been arrested for, and the district attorney goes before a grand jury to obtain an indictment against you. If the grand jury hands up an indictment, a warrant is issued for your arrest under N.Y. CPL Section 120. The police may actively search for you, and the first notice you have about the warrant is when the police arrive to arrest you.

If the police have come to your home or have been asking family members about your whereabouts, there is a good chance an arrest warrant has been issued for you.

If an arrest warrant has been issued for you, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, because the period right after you are arrested is the time when you are most vulnerable to accidentally saying something that will end up being used against you in court due to your misunderstanding of the law or the legal process.

If an arrest warrant has been issued for you, it means the prosecutor is already building a case against you and is convinced that you have committed a crime. It is unlikely you will be able to explain or talk your way out of the situation. By having a New York City criminal defense lawyer on your side during this early process, you can avoid accidentally saying something that will be used against you in court.


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Resources Related to Warrants Issued in New York City

New York Criminal Procedure Law, Part 3, Title P, Article 530.70 — Read the New York State laws pertaining to bench warrants.

New York Criminal Procedure Law, Part 2, Title H, Article 120 — Read the New York state laws pertaining to arrest warrants.

Begin Again — The Brooklyn District Attorney has begun to hold a periodic program called Begin Again, which is an expedited process for you and your attorney to settle outstanding warrants without having to spend time in jail or make a formal court appearance. Upcoming program dates are listed on the Begin Again website, or you can contact the Brooklyn District Attorney. 

The Begin Again program allows you and your attorney to resolve warrants that have been issued anywhere in the city. This is especially helpful to those with multiple outstanding warrants issued by different courts.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson
350 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Begin Again Hotline: 718-250-3888

New York City Criminal Court Information — You can get information about arrest warrants issued by the New York City Police Department by contacting the County Clerk’s office of arrest. If you are going in person, you must bring a valid ID. The office is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Manhattan DA Helps Clear Old Warrants – The Manhattan District Attorney Office’s is participating in mobile courtrooms set up on the Lower East Side on the last weekend of April in 2016 to help people clear an outstanding summons warrants. District Attorney Cyrus Vance said that the last event in Harlem attracted more than 700 people. At that event, more than 400 outstanding summons warrants were dismissed. The summons were for non-violent offenses such as drinking alcohol in public or riding between subway cars. Some of the warrants were more than 20 years old.


Warrant Attorney for New York County

If you have an outstanding warrant or warrants in New York City, you may need a lawyer to help you clear up the matter and stay out of jail.

The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC are experienced in bench warrants and arrest warrants and will work with you from the start to appease the court and keep you free.

We serve clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Contact the dedicated lawyers at Greco Neyland, PC today by calling (212) 951-1300 to schedule a free consultation about your warrant.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 27, 2016.

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