If you have an outstanding warrant in Houston or Harris County, March 2021 could turn out to be a very bad month for you.
That’s because March is the month Texas law enforcement conducts their annual Texas Warrant Roundup. During the 2021 Warrant Roundup, the Houston Police Department, Harris County Constables, and other participating state jurisdictions will be out in force arresting people with outstanding warrants for minor Class C misdemeanors.
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For most of the year, arrests for these types of outstanding warrants are made during traffic stops. However, during the 2021 Texas Warrant Roundup, law enforcement officers make a special effort to seek out persons with outstanding warrants at their home, work or school. The thought of being arrested in front of their friends, family, or co-workers is usually enough of an incentive to get their outstanding fines taken care of.
Don’t Plead Guilty Just to Avoid Going to Jail During the 2021 Warrant Roundup
Law enforcement is encouraging people to resolve their warrants to avoid arrest.
If you have an outstanding warrant in Texas and you get arrested during the roundup, you’ll have to post a bond in the full amount of your unpaid fines in order to get out of jail.
If you decide to pay the fines before law enforcement finds you, the Court will allow you to resolve your case without fear of arrest, although you’ll be assessed additional fees and costs.
However, paying a fine just to avoid arrest usually means entering a guilty plea. You could find yourself paying higher insurance premiums, having your insurance canceled, getting your driver’s license suspended, or even losing your job.
Answers to Your Questions About Criminal Defense
People make many mistakes in criminal cases that can cases serious and terrible consequences. Here are a few that we advise our clients to avoid.
• Volunteering Evidence – It is a natural impulse for people to try and “clear their name” when talking to law enforcement, but from the moment you encounter the police, they are building a case against you. This means you should not allow a search of your property without a warrant, and you should never make a statement without an attorney present.
• Resisting Arrest – Do not fight or run from the police. In the end, you’ll be helping yourself by complying and calmly requesting a lawyer.
• Tampering with Witnesses – Another thing people do in an effort to “clear their name” is to talk to a complaining witness to try and get them to drop the charges. This is illegal.
• Keeping Information From Your Attorney – In order to mount the best defense for you, your lawyer needs to know everything that you think is relevant, plus a whole lot more.
The first thing you should do is prepare to answer many questions, both about you and about your case. Additionally, you may need to bring a completed questionnaire or a list of documents, such as:
– All documents related to your arrest
– Documents from the court describing the exact charges and court dates.
– Bail paperwork.
– The names and contact information for potential witnesses.
– Video, phone messages, photos, or documents could all be helpful evidence.
Picking a lawyer for your case can be made easier by following these three tips.
1. You shouldn’t go with the cheapest price. Lawyers who charge less often have higher volume, which means you are more likely to speak to an assistant instead of a lawyer directly.
2. Consider their experience. Your lawyer should be someone who has handled cases similar to yours, and has had success litigating them.
3. Do they have a lot of experience trying cases before juries? A lawyer’s experience before juries and their success rate can be a good indicator of future success.
Take Steps to Protect Your Rights
An outstanding warrant won’t go away. The longer you go without resolving your case, the greater your chances of getting arrested.
If you have an outstanding warrant, you’ll want to take steps to protect your rights. Don’t enter a guilty plea, pay a hefty fine and whatever extra fees the Court tack on just to avoid going to jail — especially if you feel you are innocent of the charges.
Your best bet is to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer before Texas law enforcement contacts you. An attorney can confirm whether you have an outstanding warrant, advise you on what to do next and help you avoid unnecessary fines and jail time. If you can’t pay the fine, an attorney will often be able to work with the courts to arrange for a payment plan that fits your budget.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a Houston criminal attorney who provides experienced legal assistance to those accused of or charged with theft, shoplifting, domestic violence, assault, and other crimes.