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Default Warrant Removal
Dealing with the justice system can be a daunting experience. It can be tempting to ignore all communications from a court, pretend they never existed, and hope that life resumes as it once was. However, failure to attend a court date related to a criminal case can have severely adverse consequences to a defendant. In Massachusetts, if a person does not make a court appearance when requested, a defaultwarrant can be issued. While the underlying basis for a default warrant differs from that of an arrest warrant, the resulting action is essentially the same – with both warrants, the police have the power to arrest the defendant. Once a warrant has been issued by a court, the original case which brought the defendant to court in the first place is temporarily suspended until the defendant returns to court to remove the warrant.Are Defendants Given Notice That a Default Warrant Has Been Issued?
Yes. Massachusetts law mandates that a person must be notified within 30 days if a default warrant has been issued. The notice is required to include the charge for which the warrant is being issued as well as a description of how the person may clear the warrant. Courts are not required to physically locate the defendant to give the notice, or even to confirm that notice was received. Instead, notice is deemed satisfactory if it is mailed to his or her last known address. Moreover, once the default enters in court the police can arrest you. In other words, there is no requirement that they wait for you to be notified before you are arrested.
A defendant should never make the mistake of thinking that the state of Massachusetts has forgotten about the warrant. Rest assured, if a court date was missed, a default warrant has been issued.What Are the Effects of a Default Warrant?
Every warrant issued in Massachusetts is entered into a database known as the Warrant Management System. Not only does this warrant information go onto a defendant’s criminal record, but it is also passed on to all law enforcement agencies in the country and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Even if you are an out-of-state resident who was issued a warrant in the state of Massachusetts, these consequences will still apply.
As a result, in addition to a potential arrest, a defendant must also deal with the possibility that his driver’s license may be suspended. (Similarly, the presence of a default warrant can also bar a defendant from acquiring or renewing his or her license.) This can compound a defendant’s legal troubles – not only can he or she be arrested on the default warrant, but charges might also be added for driving with a suspended license.
Another consequence to having a default warrant is the termination of government benefits, including such benefits as Medicare, unemployment, and worker’s compensation benefits. In fact, the Social Security Act provides that no benefits will be paid to any individual who has a warrant for his or her arrest for either a felony or a misdemeanor, or for violations of probation or parole. A default warrant may even result in the forfeiture of a tax refund.
Finally, a default warrant that is not resolved within a short period of time might be used by the prosecutor as a reason for requesting a higher bail, or even that the defendant be he held without bail, depending on the original charges. A judge could agree that a defendant who failed to appear in court the first time might also be less inclined to return for another court date, and therefore impose a stiffer penalty as a result.
In other words, the effects of a default warrant can be quite costly to an unsuspecting defendant, especially one who unintentionally missed a court date because he or she simply forgot.How Can a Default Warrant Be Removed?
Many courts will require a defendant to appear before the court in order to remove a default warrant. Sometimes, particularly with an old, forgotten warrant, the defendant has long since left the state. Unfortunately, even for a minor offense, a court is still within its power to require a defendant to personally appear before it to get a default warrant removed. This can create an extra burden on out-of-state defendants, who will have to take time out of their schedules and absorb the costs of travel back to the state of Massachusetts. This does not mean that a defendant, neither in-state nor out-of-state, who missed a court date should casually show up in court at a later date without legal representation to try to rectify the situation – in fact, because a default warrant has likely already been issued, the defendant could be arrested simply upon showing up in court!
There may also be costs associated with default warrant removal. First, there will be a fee for removing the warrant. If the defendant was actually arrested on the warrant, he or she can be assessed another fee for the police having to use resources to make the arrest. In some cases, an attorney may be able to get the court to waive the default removal fees, depending on the reason why the defendant missed the court date. The longer a defendant waits to clear up a default warrant, however, the more likely a court is going to enforce any and all fees associated with removal of the warrant.
The safest way to begin the process of taking care of a default warrant is to contact a reputable attorney with experience in default warrant removal. At the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, we are uncompromising in our pursuit to achieve the best results for each one of our clients, regardless of whether he or she is an out-of-state or a Massachusetts defendant. It may even be possible to obtain a result that allows us to stand in for the defendant to remove the default warrant, saving our clients the time of having to appear personally in court (and the cost of travel for our out-of-state clients).
If a default warrant has been issued for you, time is of the essence. Do not procrastinate in seeking legal help! Call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman today for your free telephone consultation at (617) 263-6800. We will work to remove your default warrant so that you can get back to your life.