My question involves an arrest warrant from the State of: Washington
A few years ago I was charged with "Driver under 21 consuming alcohol" RCW (WA State Code) Link. This charge is considered a "misdemeanor", not to be confused with the more severe "gross misdemeanor".
I went to court with a public defender and even gave a nice speech to the judge myself describing the mistake I made and asking that I not have to spend the 1 day in jail and to reduce further sentencing as much as possible. The judge dismissed my day in jail, and waived all the classes that were originally mandated. End result: In addition to x-amount of years on probation and the necessity of an SR-22 filing, this left me with a only a fine to pay. Though I was under the impression that the fines would be the end of it, through the wonderful misfortune of miscommunication with my public defender, I was unaware that I was still obligated to attend the "Victim's Panel". Of course I'm not blaming my public defender as ignorance is never an excuse, just lamenting the situation. Had I attended this panel, and paid the fines, that would be the end of it.
Prior to this event, I already had plans to move away for school full-time. So about 3 months after that above-mentioned hearing, I moved away, with full intention to continue paying my fines -- I had already paid about 30% of the total fine amount by the time I left. Being a broke college student, I unfortunately missed a few payments directly after the move, but then decided to use one of those balance transfer checks from a credit card to pay off the remaining balance and be done with it. When I called the county clerk in Washington to certify my balance and make the payment, she asked if I was aware that I had a warrant out for my arrest. I told her "no" and asked to be transferred to someone to talk about it. The next person said that I had missed my victim's panel and was issued a court date to discuss why I had missed it. Because I had moved, I never got this notification and hence failed to appear at said court date resulting in my warrant. They gave me the number of someone to talk to about rectifying the situation. I had left a couple messages for this person to no avail. (I have no record of nor can I prove these calls were made.) After that, I honestly forgot about it/gave up on it since it didn't affect me much anyway.
I want to clear this blemish of my past. A few years later I'm still in school part-time, and (perhaps ironically) I now manage a Personal Injury Law Firm full-time. I still carry SR-22, and have not committed any crimes in this time. I am of course consulting other peoeple on the issue, including local attorneys, but I thought I'd get other opinions of people who have perhaps dealt with this situation specifically.
I am considering calling them again to iron out the situation over the phone or sending a letter not dissimilar to the explanation above so that I can fully explain myself and appeal to them by building some amount of personal character on paper. I am certainly willing to pay what I owe in addition to any extra fees incurred because of the length of time passed. My only hesitation is that if I talk to them, and they give me no option but to go up and turn myself in, am I going to lock myself into that decision? This is why I am not sure whether or not I need to hire an attorney. And If I do hire one, do I need to hire a Washington local? Or can the attorney be out of state as well.
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions/opinions.