The North Augusta Department of Public Safety announced last week that it served several people with outstanding warrants. At the end of a press release, officials encouraged anyone with an outstanding warrant to turn themselves in.
So, how do you know if you have a warrant in your name, and how do you go about turning yourself in?
All of the City of Aiken’s outstanding warrants – more than 2,100 – are posted on the City’s website and can be accessed by visiting www.bit.ly/1ligi5n.
Aiken County has more than 8,000 warrants posted on its website: www.bit.ly/1z2P9Ei.
The City of North Augusta asks people to call 803-279-2121 to check on warrants.
When looking at the number of warrants for an agency, it’s important to note that one person may have multiple warrants.
Some less-severe crimes may have the charge written on a courtesy summons, also known as a traffic ticket, according to Detective Jeremy Hembree, a spokesman for the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Other crimes require more investigation, and for police to take their case before a judge who can issue an arrest warrant.
Hembree said some officers’ primary duties are searching for people with active warrants. Other times, officers encounter a person with a warrant during a traffic stop or while investigating another incident.
If the person has an active warrant, police are required to arrest them on the spot.
“We try to give them the ability to make arrangements as the situation arises,” Hembree said.
This may include arranging for someone to come pick their vehicle up, to look after their kids or feed their pets, he said.
“We work with them how we can, but we still have a timeline to follow,” Hembree said.
Officers try to locate a suspect at their last known address but aren’t always successful.
“We can’t find them, but we’ve spoken with them and they say, ‘Hey, I’ll do the right thing and come turn myself in in the morning,’” Hembree said, adding that they are typically given that opportunity. “It could be arrangements made by having an interaction with us the day before on a charge that says, ‘I have enough to charge you, but I have to issue an arrest warrant to do that, and obviously I don’t have the ability to do that in our car.’”
Getting lined up to get out
Some people turning themselves in on warrants may get an attorney or bondsman lined up beforehand.
“Whether or not they want to get an attorney or consult with one before turning their self in, that’s up to them,” Hembree said. “The nice part about having an attorney lined up already or speaking with a bondsman is, they have all that background information of what’s going on.”
If you plan to turn yourself in, make sure you go to the agency that issued the warrant.
Hembree said people often make the mistake of going to the jail to turn themselves in, but the jail doesn’t have any of the warrants or paperwork.
When you go to turn yourself in, bring nothing but a form of identification, Hembree said. Other items, including clothing, cellphones and jewelry, will be taken at the detention center and won’t be returned until a defendant is released.
The Aiken County detention center has two bond hearings each day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Depending on when a suspect turns himself or herself in, they could post bond and be released the same day.
‘You never know’
Some suspects with active warrants may be ducking police or trying to lie low, but Hembree said that by turning yourself in instead of waiting for police to find you, the process is in your control.
“You never know when that’s going to happen. You’re always looking over your shoulder to determine, is this the time?” he said. “It may be inconvenient for you, but hopefully if you’re coming to turn yourself in, it’s at your convenience.”
By turning himself in, a defendant avoids other difficulties and inconveniences, such as paying towing and impound fees for a vehicle, locating a caretaker for their children or suffering the embarrassment of being arrested in their workplace, Hembree said.
The warrant doesn’t go out of effect just because a defendant crosses county or state lines, Hembree said.
Depending on the type of crime a person allegedly committed, the warrant can even be seen by law enforcement nationwide.
Additionally, if someone is arrested in a different part of the state or in another state, it could be several days before local officers can get the person extradited.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.