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What is an Open Warrant? What is the Difference Between a Default Warrant and a Straight Warrant in Massachusetts?

An open warrant is a court order that allows police to arrest you at any time. When police arrest you with an open warrant they can bring you to court. Bail is set in court rather than at the police station.

Having an open warrant out against you brings many undesirable consequences, such as having your license suspended, being unable to travel or return to the United States and losing benefits such as unemployment and Medicare. If you are stopped in your vehicle and arrested while your license is suspended due to an open warrant, you can also be charged with driving without a license.

What is a Default Warrant?

A default warrant is a warrant that is taken out against you when you don’t show up in court (a bench warrant), or when you fail to pay a fine or comply with a court order, like a child custody order. There are many reasons a person can receive a default warrant unknowingly and be completely unaware that there is a warrant out against them, such as when you have moved and a notice to appear in court is sent to an old address. You might not know you have a default warrant until your license is suspended.

What is a Straight Warrant?

A straight warrant is a warrant for your arrest for a crime that you are charged with, when an officer wasn’t able to arrest you at the time of the alleged crime. It can be any crime at all, from assault, to shoplifting, to murder. An arrest warrant is often placed on someone when law enforcement believes there is a risk of the accused attempting to evade arrest.
Both types of warrants are extremely serious, as they immediately affect important benefits and the ability to drive. Failure to comply with court orders or notices to appear in court can compound and can result in prosecutors seeking higher bail or holding someone without bail. No matter what the reason for the warrant, it is advised to address it as soon as possible.

Can You Get An Open Warrant Removed If You are Not in Massachusetts?

People often move out of state and they don’t receive mail notifying them of a fine or summons to appear in court. They can discover they have a warrant out against them and may be wondering if they can remove it or if they have to return to Massachusetts to have the warrant removed. Often you are required to appear in court to have a Massachusetts open warrant removed. However your attorney may be able to negotiate to stand in for you in court if you live out of state. Hiring an experienced arrest warrant attorney as soon as you learn there is a warrant against you is imperative. A Massachusetts criminal law attorney will be able to argue against the harsher conditions of your warrant. There are many reasons why people can become caught up in red tape and receive an arrest warrant. At Dhar Law, LLP, we are experienced Boston criminal defense attorneys who have helped clients with every kind of legal issue pertaining to a Massachusetts arrest warrant. Each case often has its own backstory and legal representation allows you to argue that your warrant should be removed and you should be allowed to move on with your life. Please contact us at (617) 880-6155 to speak to our experienced criminal defense team to learn more about what you can do to remove a Massachusetts open warrant against you.


Have you or a family member been charged or arrested? It’s important not to make mistakes early on in your case. Download our PDF on the top 3 things to do to help your defense or if you have been arrested by the State Police or FBI or you are the subject of an FBI Arrest Warrant.

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Heading up the firm, Vikas Dhar is widely recognized as a leader in the New England legal community. An accomplished business litigator and a “Top 40 Under 40” criminal defense attorney, he has also been honored as a New England Super Lawyer/Rising Star in the area of White-Collar Criminal Defense for each of the past six years by Boston Magazine.

I have the power and the skill to be able to save people from themselves. I can be your guide during the darkness. I can hold your hand and navigate you out of the darkness into the light.

— Vikas Dhar
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