In Houston, dozens of people are arrested for theft every week. The majority of theft cases filed in Houston are shoplifting cases. Typically, a person will be arrested on the day that the theft is reported and taken to jail. Once a person is taken to jail, they will be able to post bond after a bond is set, and will be assigned a future court date. However, if a person is not arrested at the time the incident is reported, a warrant may be put out for their arrest. In Harris County, this is sometimes referred to as a “to be” warrant.
Many people find out that they have a theft charge and an open warrant for their arrest when they receive mail or text messages from bondsmen or attorneys offering their services. If you have an open warrant relating to a theft or shoplifting accusation, it is critical that you get it resolved immediately. If you are pulled over by the police, it is highly likely that you will be taken to jail, and spend far more time in jail than you would have if you had resolved the warrant proactively. If you are pulled over outside of Houston, getting detained on a shoplifting warrant could be even more complicated and time-consuming, as you could spend much longer in jail and even be transferred back to Harris County.
If you have an open warrant for theft or any charge, an experienced criminal defense attorney can tell you what your options are for clearing the warrant. Sometimes, a shoplifting warrant will already have a bond amount set at the time it is filed. In many class “A” and “B” misdemeanor shoplifting cases filed in Houston, this amount is frequently $100, particularly if the defendant has no prior criminal history. To clear a shoplifting warrant with a bond amount that is already set, typically the easiest thing to do is to pay the bond at the Harris County Bail Bond Window located at 700 N San Jacinto in downtown Houston. Once you pay the bond amount, you will be assigned a court date and your theft warrant will be lifted, and you will not be taken into custody.
If there is no bond amount set in your theft or shoplifting case, then you must have a bond set in order to clear the warrant. Traditionally, in this situation, a defendant must turn himself in to jail and wait until a magistrate judge sets a bond (or perhaps grants a free bond known as a “PR” bond) before being released. Fortunately, there is a better option than turning yourself in to the Harris County jail, known as a “walk-through” arrest.
A walk-through arrest involves going to court when the judge is on the bench, accompanied by a representative from a bail bond company, and asking the judge to set a bond. Then, rather than taking the defendant into custody, the judge would allow the defendant to leave the courtroom with the bondsman and post-bond. Most misdemeanor judges in Houston allow walk-through arrests on shoplifting or theft cases. Even better, in many shoplifting cases, many judges in Houston might even grant a free bond known as a PR bond. A walk-through arrest requires some planning, and it won’t be known in advance whether a PR bond will be granted, so it is usually necessary to come with a representative from a bail bondsman’s office.
In felony theft cases, PR bonds are less frequently granted and many judges do not permit walk-through arrests at all. Again, a criminal defense attorney experienced with Houston judges can guide you through this process and tell you what your options are depending on whether your shoplifting case is filed as a misdemeanor or felony, and what court it is assigned to.
Before a criminal defense attorney can begin working to get your shoplifting case dismissed, the warrant must be cleared. The District Attorney’s office will almost never want to work on a case that is in open warrant status. Moreover, although it is unlikely that the police will be actively looking for you over a shoplifting arrest, it is still in your best interest to clear the warrant as soon as possible, as you likely have options open to you that do not involve going to jail to get the shoplifting warrant cleared.
If you are charged with theft or shoplifting anywhere in the Greater Houston area, attorney Jose Ceja can advise you on how to clear a warrant and maximize your chances of keeping a conviction off of your record. Call today to schedule a free consultation.