What happens if the bench warrant is not resolved, and you need to seek shelter during the storm? I have not seen any indication from the Myrtle Beach Police Department or the Horry County Police Department that they will be actively attempting to arrest persons who seek shelter from the hurricane, but it is important to remember that officers have a responsibility to make the arrest if they come across a wanted person.
In Polk County Florida, on the other hand, the sheriff has announced on Twitter that police will be checking ID’s at hurricane shelters and anyone seeking shelter who has a warrant will be arrested and transported to the county jail during the hurricane:
If you go to a shelter for #Irma and you have a warrant, we’ll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail.
The Safe and Secure Shelter of the Polk County Jail
The thousands of replies received by the Polk County sheriff on Twitter almost unanimously condemn his statements. Most outstanding arrest warrants are for things such as unpaid parking tickets or persons who have fallen behind in child support payments.
This is not about public safety – these people are not murderers, rapists, or child molesters. Should a person who has a bench warrant for unpaid traffic tickets be forced to make a choice between dying in a category V hurricane or going to jail during a category V hurricane?
Some commenters pointed out that, as the Sheriff said, the jail may be a safe shelter during a hurricane. They each dropped this argument as other commenters pointed out what really happens at a jail or prison during a hurricane, for example during Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Katrina. Inmates are not a priority for a government during a crisis, and, in a worst-case scenario, some inmates may be left to die.
I can understand excluding convicted sex offenders from shelters that contain children. I also think that the government should provide alternate shelters for those people. Also, anyone who has an outstanding warrant for a violent crime such as murder or sexual assault should be arrested on sight. I don’t think anyone is disputing that. But telling the public that they will be arrested for traffic violations or child support payments during a hurricane is irresponsible and over the top.
How Can I Resolve My Bench Warrant in South Carolina?
Depending on your situation, we may be able to help you to: 1) Get your bench warrant dismissed without an arrest; or 2) Turn yourself in and get a reasonable bond set so that you can be immediately released.
If the warrant is for unpaid tickets, we may be able to negotiate payment of those tickets and have the bench warrant withdrawn. If the warrant is for failure to appear in a criminal case, we may be able to file a motion and have the bench warrant withdrawn before you are arrested.
If you live in another state, it is even more critical that you resolve your bench warrants as soon as possible. If you are picked up in another state on a fugitive warrant from South Carolina, you could sit in jail in the other state for as long as a month or more before S.C. law enforcement transports you to a local jail.
If you have a bench warrant in the Myrtle Beach, Conway, Columbia, or Charleston S.C. areas, we can help you to begin the process of putting this behind you. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.