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what is a voluntary surrender

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

What is Voluntary Surrender?

Voluntary surrender is when a defendant in a criminal case decides to turn themselves in to law enforcement instead of waiting to be arrested. It can happen at any point during the legal process, even after a warrant has been issued for the defendant’s arrest. Defendants may choose to voluntarily surrender for a variety of reasons.

Why Would a Defendant Voluntarily Surrender?

There are a few key reasons a defendant might decide to voluntarily surrender:

  • To demonstrate cooperation and accountability – Surrendering voluntarily shows the court the defendant is taking responsibility for their actions and not trying to evade the legal process.
  • To avoid being arrested in public or at home – Surrendering voluntarily allows the defendant to turn themselves in quietly rather than be arrested, which can be traumatic and embarrassing.
  • To possibly get released faster – In some cases, voluntarily surrendering can speed up the release process after booking compared to being arrested.
  • To potentially get a bond – Depending on the charges, voluntarily surrendering may make it more likely for a judge to grant bond so the defendant can be released pre-trial.
  • To start the legal process – For defendants who know they are wanted, surrendering can initiate the legal proceedings rather than waiting in limbo.

While voluntary surrender doesn’t guarantee any of these benefits, it can be viewed favorably by both law enforcement and the courts. Many defendants choose to voluntarily surrender with their criminal defense attorney present to ensure the process goes smoothly.

How Does Voluntary Surrender Work?

If a defendant wants to voluntarily surrender, they will need to coordinate with law enforcement, usually through their attorney. Here are the typical steps:

  1. Contact law enforcement – The defense attorney will reach out to the prosecuting agency (police department, sheriff’s office, etc) to notify them of the intent to surrender.
  2. Agree on time and place – Law enforcement will specify when and where they want the defendant to turn themselves in.
  3. Appear at scheduled time – The defendant shows up at the predetermined location with their attorney and surrenders peacefully.
  4. Get booked and processed – The defendant is photographed, fingerprinted, and formally placed under arrest.
  5. Appear before a judge – Within 48 hours, the defendant will appear before a judge who determines bond and release conditions.

The booking process after surrendering voluntarily is the same as being arrested. However, voluntarily surrendering prevents law enforcement from having to obtain and execute an arrest warrant, saving time and resources.

What Factors Determine Eligibility for Voluntary Surrender?

Not every defendant is eligible to voluntarily surrender. Here are some key factors law enforcement considers:

  • Flight risk – Defendants with minimal ties to the community or who are deemed high flight risks are less likely to be granted voluntary surrender.
  • Safety concerns – Defendants accused of violent crimes or who may pose a public safety threat typically cannot voluntarily surrender.
  • Warrant status – If a warrant has already been issued, law enforcement is less inclined to allow voluntary surrender.
  • Previous criminal record – First time offenders with minor charges are the best candidates for voluntary surrender.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the discretion of the prosecuting agency. They want to ensure the defendant will actually show up as promised before agreeing to voluntary surrender.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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Anthony Williams
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Loveth Okpedo
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divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

What Are the Benefits of Voluntary Surrender for Defendants?

As mentioned earlier, there are several potential benefits defendants can gain by voluntarily surrendering, including:

  • Avoiding public arrest – Surrendering voluntarily prevents being arrested at home, work, or in public which can be humiliating.
  • Speeding up release – In some cases, voluntary surrender can expedite the post-booking release process.
  • Possibility of pre-trial release – By surrendering, the defendant shows cooperation which may convince a judge to grant bond.
  • Starting the legal process – Surrendering puts the wheels of justice in motion rather than waiting in uncertainty.
  • Demonstrating accountability – Turning themselves in shows the court the defendant is willing to take responsibility.

However, there are never any guarantees when it comes to the criminal justice system. The prosecuting agency and judge make decisions based on many factors, so voluntary surrender should be viewed as only one potential mitigating circumstance.

What Risks are Involved with Voluntary Surrender?

While voluntary surrender can be beneficial in many cases, there are also some risks defendants should consider:

  • Possibility of not being granted bond – There is no guarantee surrendering voluntarily will lead to pre-trial release.
  • Potential to be taken into custody for an extended period – If bond is denied, the defendant could spend months or longer in jail awaiting trial after surrendering.
  • No control over the booking process – Once in custody, the defendant is at the mercy of the legal system.
  • Lack of leverage if there are errors – Unlike being arrested publicly, there are fewer grounds for recourse if procedural mistakes are made.
  • Possibility of additional charges – In rare cases, additional charges could be added during booking that were not part of the original warrant.

While rare, these risks demonstrate why consulting with an attorney is critical prior to voluntarily surrendering. The attorney can help assess the likelihood of bond, anticipate any issues, and negotiate the best possible surrender terms.

What Factors Help a Voluntary Surrender Agreement?

If a defendant wants to maximize their chances of being granted voluntary surrender, there are several helpful factors to keep in mind:

  • Having an attorney negotiate terms – An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advocate effectively with law enforcement.
  • Limited or non-violent criminal history – First time or low-level offenders have an advantage.
  • Strong community ties – Steady employment, residence, and family in the area help demonstrate low flight risk.
  • Willingness to comply with bond terms – Agreeing to drug testing, ankle monitor, etc. can help secure pre-trial release.
  • Need to arrange personal affairs prior to incarceration – Such as childcare, medical treatment, etc.

While these factors are not decisive, they can give the defense attorney more leverage in negotiating for voluntary surrender with the prosecuting agency or court.

What Happens After Voluntarily Surrendering?

Once a defendant has voluntarily surrendered, here is the typical sequence of events:

  1. Booking and processing – Fingerprints, mug shots, warrants, and records check.
  2. Appear before a judge – Within 48 hours for a bond hearing to determine release terms.
  3. Bond is set – Judge decides bail amount and any other release conditions.
  4. Release or detention – If bond is granted, the defendant is released on bail to await trial. If denied, they are detained in jail.
  5. Formal arraignment – Defendant enters a plea at formal court arraignment within days/weeks.
  6. Pre-trial proceedings – Motions, discovery, negotiations with prosecution.
  7. Trial or plea deal – Case either goes to trial or is settled through plea bargain.
  8. Sentencing – If found guilty, the defendant is sentenced by the judge.

This process can take anywhere from weeks to over a year depending on the complexity of the case and court scheduling. Voluntary surrender marks the beginning of this legal road ahead.

Does Voluntary Surrender Lead to Lesser Charges?

Many defendants consider voluntary surrender as a way to show cooperation in hopes of getting lesser charges or a plea deal. But does it really help?

In most cases, voluntarily surrendering does NOT directly lead to getting charges reduced or dropped. The prosecuting attorney makes decisions about charges based on evidence and legal merits of the case, not how the defendant surrenders. However, it can indirectly help in the following ways:

  • Shows accountability – By surrendering, the defendant demonstrates a willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. This can positively influence negotiations later.
  • Starts a cooperative relationship – Voluntary surrender sets a tone of cooperation with the prosecution that may make them more inclined to bargain.
  • Enables earlier plea negotiations – Being out on bail via voluntary surrender allows earlier discussions with the prosecuting attorney compared to being in jail.

So while voluntary surrender alone won’t lead to lesser charges, it can open the door to starting constructive dialogue with the prosecution. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know how to leverage voluntary surrender during plea negotiations.

Does Voluntary Surrender Lead to Reduced Sentencing?

Similar to charges, voluntarily surrendering typically does not directly translate to a lighter sentence after conviction. Judges make sentencing decisions based on the law and facts of the case. However, it can help indirectly by:

  • Demonstrating remorse and accountability – This can positively influence the judge’s sentencing decision.
  • Allowing credit for time served – Any jail time after surrendering may count as time served towards the final sentence.
  • Enabling earlier plea deal – Pleading guilty sooner via voluntary surrender may allow the defendant to argue for sentencing leniency.

While not a guarantee of a lighter sentence, voluntary surrender puts the defendant in a stronger negotiating position and helps present them in the best light possible to the judge. This can potentially impact the sentence handed down.

Does Voluntary Surrender Lead to Lower Bail?

Voluntarily surrendering does not automatically mean the judge will lower bail or release the defendant without bail. However, it can help strengthen the argument for lower or no bail in the following ways:

  • Shows cooperation – Surrendering voluntarily demonstrates the defendant is not a flight risk.
  • Indicates ties to community – Defendants who self-surrender typically have stable roots in the area.
  • Enables earlier bail petition – Being out on bail allows the defense to file a bail modification motion sooner.
  • Allows more time to raise funds – Defendants who surrender have more opportunity to raise money for bail before detention.

While the judge will still make a bail decision based primarily on flight risk and public safety, voluntarily surrendering in good faith can help tip the scales towards more favorable bail terms in many cases.

Can Voluntary Surrender Be Denied?

Yes, the prosecuting agency always has discretion whether or not to allow voluntary surrender. Here are some reasons why they may deny it:

  • Defendant is deemed a flight risk
  • Nature of the charges are too serious
  • Defendant has a lengthy criminal record
  • Arrest warrant has already been issued
  • Insufficient notice is given before the surrender date
  • Law enforcement lacks resources to coordinate surrender

Even if voluntary surrender seems like the best course of action, the defendant is never entitled to it. The prosecuting agency and court will make a determination based on the totality of the circumstances. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer argue on your behalf helps offset any negative factors.

What If You Miss the Voluntary Surrender Date?

If a defendant fails to appear to voluntarily surrender as scheduled, it is treated just like any other failure to appear for court. This can result in:

  • Immediate arrest warrant issued
  • Original bail revoked
  • New, higher bail amount set
  • Additional criminal charges for failure to appear

Missing a voluntary surrender date destroys all credibility and good faith with the court. It is critical to fully comply with all agreed upon terms of the voluntary surrender agreement.

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