If you find out that a warrant for your arrest has been issued, you probably have a lot of questions. Among those is this one: Does “giving yourself up” or “turning yourself” in really help? Like so many answers to questions about the justice system, the answer depends on many different things.
What does “giving yourself up” or “turning yourself in” mean?
If you’re accused of a crime, prosecutors and police might get a warrant for your arrest. Sometimes, police track you down to arrest you after they get a warrant. This often means going to your home, your workplace and other places where you might be.
But, other times, police might contact you to let you know about the arrest warrant. They will then ask you to come to the police station and turn yourself in. This could mean that they want you to turn yourself in within a couple of hours. Or it could mean that they want you to turn yourself in within a couple of weeks.
Although you can turn yourself in at any time, there are some factors to consider. Many criminal defense attorneys tell clients to avoid Mondays and Fridays. Mondays are usually a problem because of a backlog of weekend arrests. Fridays are usually a problem because a judge doesn’t have enough time to arraign you before the weekend.
Some local government websites have online resources about how to turn yourself in. Examples include the Washington County in Oregon and Washington County in Minnesota.
Should you “give yourself up” or “turn yourself in” to police?
It depends. No specific law makes you give yourself up to police because of an arrest warrant. There are, however, many benefits to doing so. Examples include the following:
- avoiding harassment by police,
- increasing the chances of a lower cash bail amount,
- increasing the changes of a better plea deal and
- putting yourself in a better insurance position (in cases where there is property damage like a “hit and run”).
There are no time limits on arrest warrants. You might think you can hide from police for a while. But it is very hard to hide from them forever. And taking steps to avoid an arrest can be a bad look to some judges.
However, it is also important to know that giving yourself up or turning yourself in does not guarantee any benefit. Police and prosecutors won’t promise you a better sentence, better prison conditions or anything else. Giving yourself up or turning yourself in is simply a choice. And it’s often best to make that choice with the help of an experienced lawyer.
What should you know if you decide to turn yourself in?
If you decide to turn yourself in, you will go to the local police station or jail. You don’t need to wear something like a suit and tie, but you should dress nicely and comfortably. Prison officials will also search you, so you don’t want to bring anything illegal or unnecessary.
When you get to the police station or jail, police may try to ask you questions. But you have the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. Exercise those rights clearly: “I wish to remain silent and speak to a lawyer.” Police may try to get you to talk to them anyway, but you don’t have to. And, in most cases, you probably shouldn’t.
If a warrant is issued for your arrest, you might have the chance to give yourself up or turn yourself in. There are possible benefits to doing so, but those benefits aren’t guaranteed. You may want to speak to a lawyer before making that decision. But, if you do turn yourself in, you still have certain legal rights that you should exercise.