A Warrant has been issued for my arrest... What does this mean?
An Arrest Warrant is issued in a Summary case when a defendant fails to comply in a timely fashion to an order of the Court. For example, the failure may be lack of response to a Citation or Summons, a fine not paid by the required date, or a missed payment on a time payment order.
An Arrest Warrant is an enforcable order to respond to the Court. Active Warrants are recorded with the County's Warrant Enforcement Bureau and information regarding these Warrants can be accessed by Law Enforcement Officers. Various reponses are appropriate in order to satisfy the Warrant and have it recalled by the Court.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
• Why am I being notified by a Constable about an outstanding Arrest Warrant?
• What are my options now?
• Why are the costs listed on the Warrant higher than my Citation costs?
• What if I don't think I am guilty?
• What if I don't have the money?
• What if I do nothing?
Why am I being notified by a Constable about an outstanding Arrest Warrant?
Summary Warrants are issued to certified Pennsylvania State Constables for service. Constables can execute Warrants issued on Citations for Traffic (including Parking) violations, Non-Traffic (Summary State Code and local Ordinance) violations, as well as Court subpoenas and Civil processes. Constables may execute Warrants in any part of Pennsylvania, and they have arrest powers on their Warrants and on other crimes committed in their view.
What are my options now?
You can contact the Court in person or by mail, and take care of the outstanding matter by entering your plea and making the outstanding payment (including Warrant and Constable costs) or requesting a hearing and posting collateral. The warrant will be recalled after the plea and payment are received.
You can contact the Constable holding your Warrant. If you received notification of the Warrant from a Constable — whether by mail, phone, or by posting your door — and the issue is money due to the court, you can mail the outstanding balance to the Court or to the Constable. If the issue is a missing response to a Citation, you can mail to the court your plea of Guilty along with full fines and costs, or your plea of Not Guilty along with collateral required to schedule a hearing.
For more information in your case, you can call the Court or the Constable holding the warrant for your arrest. Constables are generally available during evening and weekend hours when the court is closed.
For legal advice, please contact a lawyer. Feel free to call the Chester County Bar Association Legal Referral Service at 610-429-1500.
Why are the costs on the Warrant higher than my Citation Costs?
Additional Court costs are incurred when a Warrant is issued, and an additional Constable fee is added when the Warrant is satisfied and recalled.
What if I don't think I am guilty?
Anyone charged with an offense is entitled to plead Not Guilty. In a Summary matter, a trial will then be scheduled at the Court where the Citation is filed. At the Summary Trial, the Magisterial District Judge hears testimony presented by both sides (prosecution and defense), and renders a verdict. The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense may present testimony, but is not required to. You can choose to be represented by an attorney, but it is not required. If you do not appear for your trial, you may be found Guilty in your absense. Note: A Guilty verdict in all Summary matters can be appealed within 30 days to the Court of Common Please for a new trial (trial de novo.)
You may be required to post collateral before the trial will be scheduled. Your Not Guilty plea plus collateral for the trial can be collected by the Constable, or delivered in person or by mail to the District Court which issued the Warrant. If you have special financial considerations, you must contact the Court in person to make arrangements. Note: Collateral is not an extra charge. If you are found Not Guilty, it will be refunded to you. If you are found Guilty, it will be applied towards your fines and costs. Your fines and costs will include Warrant and Constable costs incurred.
What if I don't have the money?
If you advise the Court that you are unable to make a payment due to the Court, whether full fines and costs or a partial payment on a time-payment plan, you can request a hearing before the District Judge to determine your ability to pay (Pa.R.Crim.P. 456.) At that time, a payment plan can be ordered or adjusted, community service can be ordered, or the defendant can be imprisoned for nonpayment ($40 per day.) Note: The outcome of the hearing can be appealed within 30 days to the Court of Common Pleas for a new hearing (hearing de novo.)
Constables are not permitted to accept partial payment of outstanding fines and costs, or to make payment arrangements. If in custody of the Police or Constable, prior to transporting to District Court, defendant may be permitted to make phone calls in an attempt to obtain funds needed to satisfy the Warrant(s). Phone calls can also be made at the District Court following a hearing with the District Judge.
What if I do nothing?
If you do not respond voluntarily, you can be arrested at any time on a vehicle stop by a Police officer, or while at work, school or home by a Constable. You may then be handcuffed and transported to District Court to appear before a District Judge to answer to the charges in the warrant. In addition to other Warrant costs, there will be service, transport, and hearing fees for two Constables, plus any mileage costs incurred. This is potentially your most disruptive and expensive option.
Warrants asigned to Constables do not "go away." They remain on the Police Warrant System until satisfied. Note: There is a Statute of Limitations of 3-years from the last activity on Traffic violations only.