Do you have an arrest warrant or bench warrant?


Whether you’re facing arrest for a new charge or you missed court our lawyers will give you the right advice.


Do you have a warrant? Whether it's an arrest warrant for a new criminal case or a bench warrant for missing court, our law firm can advise you on the best course to take. If you have an arrest warrant beware that our attorneys cannot recall it. The warrant will have to be executed and you will have to either spend time in jail until you bond out or receive a citation in lieu of arrest. If you have a bench warrant for missing court our lawyers have an excellent track record at getting them recalled.

Bench Warrant

Do you have a warrant? Before you make any decisions consult with one of our attorneys to better understand your options.

If you have a warrant of any kind please contact the Memphis warrant attorneys at Balestrini, Barnes, Jaber & Wood, PLLC immediately.


What is an arrest warrant?


Warrants come in two general varieties: arrest warrants and bench warrants. Arrest warrants are legal documents that order law enforcement agencies to arrest the named person on the warrant without delay. Arrest warrants come about in one of two ways: an affidavit of complaint or an indictment.


Arrest warrants differ from bench warrants (which are warrants that summon a person to appear before a court) in that they are acted upon quite swiftly. If your warrant was issued at the request of law enforcement, chances are they will waste no time in pursuing you. An arrest warrant allows officers to arrest you at any time of the day, anywhere regardless of your guilt.


Anyone facing an arrest warrant should seek legal representation immediately. At the time an arrest warrant is issued, the police have already obtained enough evidence to charge you. This means that you are already behind in seeking and preserving evidence which is beneficial to protecting your liberty. If you decide to continue without a Memphis attorney you are putting yourself at risk. Any statements you make following your arrest can be used against you later in your case. The sensible thing to do is ask for an attorney and make no statements at all until you can speak with them.


What is a bench warrant?


A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a Shelby County judge, generally because a defendant failed to appear for their court case. These types of warrants are much easier for a Memphis warrant attorney to set aside than arrest warrants. If you have a bench warrant, you will absolutely need an attorney to submit yourself to court and request that the court recall the warrant.


What is an affidavit of complaint?


An affidavit of complaint is a charging instrument used to obtain an arrest warrant. This document must put forth the essential facts which constitute probable cause that a crime has occurred. Generally, if an officer personally witnesses a crime take place, he may make an arrest without a warrant, complete an affidavit of complaint, and submit that document to a judge or magistrate for review. If the judge or magistrate agrees that probable cause existed for the arrest, they will sign the arrest warrant ordering the continued detention of the individual and set a bond. Tennessee statutes lay out an exception for the officer’s personal witness of the crime in the case of domestic violence. If an individual witnesses a domestic violence, they may make themselves the affiant for an affidavit of complaint and the officer must make an arrest based upon that witnesses statements. Probable cause must still be established.


In some instances, an affidavit of complaint is made prior to an arrest where the suspect has left the scene and cannot be located prior to the affidavit of complaint and arrest warrant. The arrest warrant still operates the same.


What is an indictment?


An indictment is a document filed by the district attorney after a grand jury has reviewed a case and returned a true bill. An indictment may be sought either before or after arrest. If an arrest is made first, the case will begin in general sessions court. If the matter is not resolved in general sessions, the case will proceed to a grand jury where an indictment will be sought. If no arrest is made prior to indictment, the process is referred to as a “secret indictment.” Secret indictments are generally sought when the police or district attorney does not want the suspect to know they are being investigated. All federal cases are by secret indictment.


In order to obtain an indictment, the district attorney and law enforcement draft a probable cause statement and present this document and testimony (not open to the public) to the grand jury. The grand jury is given the necessary law and makes a determination of whether probable cause has been met. If the grand jury determines that probable cause does exist, the grand jury returns a true bill. This true bill is turned into an indictment and filed with the clerk of the court. The district attorney then presents the indictment to a judge who issues an arrest warrant called a capias and sets the bond. If the grand jury determines that probable cause does not exist, it returns a “no true bill,” no indictment is filed, and no warrant is issued.


How do I know if I have an arrest warrant?


There are a couple of ways to find out whether or not you have an arrest warrant in Memphis. If the warrant has been published to the public you may go to the Shelby County warrant website and enter your information or you may contact the Shelby County fugitive squad and ask. If the warrant has not been published, as in a secret indictment, you will need a Memphis warrant attorney to contact the Shelby County fugitive squad or the Shelby County District Attorney’s office.


I didn’t do anything, but I have a warrant for my arrest?


While possible, it is very difficult to avoid arrest once a Memphis arrest warrant has been issued. However, if some evidence does exist that concretely exonerates you, you need to contact a Memphis warrant attorney immediately. It is possible that a Memphis warrant attorney may be able to contact the district attorney, present that evidence, and have the warrant set aside. Otherwise, you will need to contact a Memphis criminal defense attorney and go with that attorney to turn yourself in. With an attorney turning yourself in, that attorney may be able to negotiate a lower bond so you get out of jail much easier and quicker.


What should I do if I have an arrest warrant?


Get a Memphis attorney. This cannot be stressed enough. If you have a warrant, the police are looking for you. Best case scenario is that we can get them to stop looking for you. Worst case scenario, we can negotiate the terms of your surrender.


How would I know whether it is a bench warrant or an arrest warrant?


Call us and we can usually tell you over the phone. Otherwise, ask yourself whether you have missed a court date. If you have, chances are it is a bench warrant. If you have had no court dates, chances are it's an arrest warrant.


Can an attorney help me?


No matter the type of warrant, you are going to need an attorney at some point. The sooner you retain an attorney, the better. It's a sad day when a defendant turns himself in without the advice of an attorney, only to provide further evidence for the police to prove their case or to watch evidence dissipate due to the delay of retaining an attorney.

 2023 BBJW LAW © All Rights Reserved


Balestrini, Barnes, Jaber & Wood, PLLC


Minglewood Plaza

1555 Madison Ave, Ste 202

Memphis, TN 38104


(901) 578-1515 P

(901) 578-2929 F