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Q:        An officer came to my office and arrested me for a warrant. I donít understand why they had to do this in front of everyone at work and I donít understand why I just couldnít pay a fine. How rude.

A:         By trade, police officers are in the career of ďlaw enforcement.Ē By title, people often do not like when police officer ďenforce lawĒ. In its basic form, police officers are often given the task of holding people accountable to the rules and regulations of the state and city. That being said, hereís how the process works.

When an officer writes a citation for a violation, that will be filed with the respective court for that jurisdiction. 

Once the citation is filed with the court, it is the citation recipientís responsibility to contact the court and to ensure that the citation is resolved of correctly. To resolve a citation, the recipient might pay a fine, attend certain education courses, or perform other actions as ordered by the judge of the court.

The worst thing the citation recipient can do is to ignore or fail to properly resolve the citation with the court. If the recipient fails to contact the court, fails to make payments to the court, fails to show up for court meetings, hearings, or trials, etc., it is very likely the judge will order the recipient be arrested and brought before a judge. In other words, the judge will issue a warrant for the recipientís arrest.

Many people with warrants for their arrest tell police they didnít know they had a warrant. The court will normally notify a person that there is an active warrant for their arrest, but there are several reasons the person may not receive that notice. It is always the cited personís responsibility to resolve the issue correctly to prevent a warrant from being issued.

Probably the number one reason a person with a warrant does not receive a warrant notification is because their contact information has changed between the time the initial citation was written and the time the warrant was issued. It is the recipientís responsibility to provide correct contact information at the time the citation was written and to keep the court notified if that information changes to prevent a warrant being issued.

Some people, for whatever reason, donít provide correct contact information at the time the citation is issued. Some people do this because they donít want someone at the address to know they received a citation or they donít want the police or court to know where they live.

Once a warrant is issued, specifically municipal court warrants in Robinson, the Robinson Police Department is charged with serving the warrant. The warrant is a command, not a request, from the court to the police officer to locate and arrest the person and to bring them before a judge.

The person with the outstanding warrant must resolve the matter before the officer serves the warrant to resolve the matter with the court. Resolution means paying any fines or penalties or making arrangements with the court to recall the warrant. Once the officer is present and the warrant is verified, the officer is commanded to serve the warrant place the person under arrest.

Some communities allow the person with the warrant to pay any applicable fines or penalties when the officer discovers the person has a warrant and the officer is in their presence. Article 15.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedures directs the peace officer, commanding him to take the body of the person accused of an offense, to be dealt with according to law. Nothing in this article allows an officer to exempt the service of the warrant.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedures (TCCP) Article 15.16 dictates that the officer executing a warrant of arrest shall without unnecessary delay take the person or have him taken before the magistrate who issued the warrant or before the magistrate named in the warrant, if the magistrate is in the same county where the person is arrested. TCCP Article 15.17 specifically states that the person making the arrest or the person having custody of the person arrested shall without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested, take the person arrested or have him taken before some magistrate of the county where the accused was arrested or, to provide more expeditiously to the person arrested the warnings described by the article, before a magistrate in any other county of this state.

In other words, TCCP Article 15.16 and 15.17 orders the arresting officer to take the person arrested on a warrant directly to either the magistrate (judge) who issued the warrant or, if the magistrate (judge) isnít available, to jail where the person can be taken before another magistrate (judge). The term ďwithout unnecessary delayĒ does allow for officers to take people arrested to certain necessary and articulable locations, such as a hospital for medical treatment.

Most people are less than pleased when they are arrested in front of family, fellow workmates, their boss, etc. By the time an arrest warrant is issued for the personís arrest, the person has had ample time to resolve the matter and officers should not reasonably wait to serve a warrant simply for the convenience of the person with the warrant, exigent circumstances excluded. Safety for the officer, for the person being arrested, and those who are in the area of the arrest are of upmost importance. Delaying serving a warrant for the convenience of the person with the warrant has resulted in officers being injured and even killed by the person who made plans to divert the officer from safely making the arrest.

As for being rude for not being allowed to make a payment rather than being arrested, the person with an outstanding warrant that resulted from a citation has disrespected the court by failing to responsibly resolve the matter. TCCP Article 15.01, 15.16., and 15.17 are laws enacted by the Texas legislature and nothing in these laws indicate they were written to disrespect anyone. Rather, they were written to hold people responsible and accountable for charges made against them.