Surrendering on Westchester Criminal Warrants: The Importance of Having A Lawyer

Learning that you have any open or outstanding arrest warrant can be very unsettling and creates an untenable situation that must be dealt with immediately. However, do not try to handle an arrest warrant on your own. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make. They believe that they can talk their way out of an arrest or trust the police when they are told that cooperation will “make things better.” Any experienced criminal defense attorney who has dealt with outstanding warrants and is familiar with the criminal process will tell you that getting an attorney as soon as possible and not saying anything is a priority.

Only after you have engaged a lawyer should the situation be addressed by making the decision of voluntarily surrendering or waiting for law enforcement to make an arrest. Regardless of whether the arrest warrant was issued following the filing of misdemeanor charges, a grand jury indictment, or a bench warrant was issued because you missed a court appearance, this decision must be made.

You Are Protected with Defense Counsel

When deciding how best to answer an open arrest warrant, and this cannot be stressed enough, you should always consider talking to an attorney before surrendering yourself at a police station or New York State Troopers barracks. In Westchester County and the surrounding areas, the process for arrest and booking is very different when a person has retained counsel. One common example is when you don’t have a retained attorney, law enforcement officials will try to convince you into making statements without adequate representation. However, when you have an attorney, law enforcement officers are required to respect your right to counsel and your right to remain silent. They will not be allowed to talk to you outside the presence of your attorney, with the exception of when they request pedigree information.

New York Warrants: Arrest and Bench

In New York, two types of warrants exist. They are known as bench warrants and arrest warrants. Each type gives law enforcement the ability to arrest you on sight. But each type is issued under different circumstances.

  1. Arrest Warrants

An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by a judge. This calls for the arrest of an individual following the filing of a criminal complaint. In most cases, an arrest warrant will be issued when the probable cause has been determined to exist by a grand jury. This generally happens through a felony indictment. When a grand jury hasn’t issued an indictment, the judge in charge of the warrant is required to review the evidence presented by the state. They will then determine whether there is reasonable or probable cause for the individual to be arrested.

Theoretically, arrest warrants can be issued for both felony and misdemeanor offenses.

  1. Bench Warrants

Bench warrants are issued by the judge presiding over the criminal court. These warrants authorize law enforcement to arrest an individual because of the individual’s failure to respond to a court order or appear in court. Bench warrants direct law enforcement officers to bring an individual to court for a purpose unrelated to arraignment. Most commonly, bench warrants are issued in the following circumstances:

  • The defendant fails to make a court appearance on their pending criminal case after they have been arraigned.
  • The defendant fails to report for jury duty.
  • The defendant fails to respond to or appear in response to a court ordered or grand jury subpoena.

Stephen J. Riebling, Jr. and Marcia Payton are criminal defense attorneys at Riebling & Payton, PLLC, located in Westchester County, NY. They have helped countless clients surrender on outstanding arrest and bench warrants, and successfully defended numerous clients charged with crimes throughout New York. To learn more about them, the firm and their approach please visit Riebling & Payton, PLLC at

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