The police don’t mind who you are

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Lady Penelope's car

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Emma Parker Bowles is the niece of Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall in England. Emma lives in Los Angeles and says that she loves it but she didn’t bargain on getting arrested and left in a cold and dirty jail cell overnight. An indignity that she might have avoided had it happened back in the UK because of who she is. She might have been able to avoid this happening in the US too but not because of her family connections.

So how did this happen? Well it appears that Emma had forgotten to go to court to answer a traffic violation ticket. This had resulted in a bench warrant being issued for her arrest. When she was subsequently stopped while driving her car the police discovered the warrant and arrested her. Letting her off because she had attended the royal wedding was not an option for these officers. It was simply a matter of routine. So handcuffed she was and off to jail they went.

Respect the courts at all times

As I said, back in the UK she might have escaped the indignity of an overnight stay in a police cell simply because she is related to the royal family but that doesn’t excuse the fact that she failed to turn up in court when she should. The fact is that courts on both sides of the Atlantic do not like it when someone disregards their instructions and you can expect them to use the powers that they have available when you do. If this had happened to any normal person in London then I am pretty sure that they would be facing a night in jail too and I suspect that they would be equally critical of the state of the cells in London jails.

There is no royalty in the US

Police in the US do not recognize the rich, famous or royalty. They treat everyone the same way. Some might even say that they enjoy arresting celebrities because it looks like a bigger catch. Arresting you or I would just be part of their normal day but throwing royalty into jail would make their week. It’s best then to always keep a low profile, stay out of trouble and make sure that you go to court when you are told to.

Arrest records are for life

Unfortunately poor Emma now has an arrest record which will follow her forever no matter where she goes. Any future employer, friend or partner will be able to find it whenever they want to by using online background checking tools. It will never go away. If you are a famous pop singer, rich or royal you may not care but if you are normal like most people then you should care because it will matter.

So how could she have avoided this? She could have gone to court when she was instructed to. That would have avoided the warrant being issued and she would not have then been arrested. She would no doubt have dealt with the traffic violation by paying a fine. That would have been the end of it. No warrant, no arrest so no arrest record.

Finding your warrants

One big problem here is that you don’t always know that you have an arrest warrant. Emma certainly didn’t. She had clean forgotten to go to court and had no reason to think that she might be being hunted by the police. It is possible that you never received notification of the court appearance in the first place. These things can happen. The first time most people in this situation realize that they have a warrant is when the police stop you for something unrelated and then they discover the warrant. By then it’s too late of course.

You can check yourself out online to see if there are any warrants listed for you. It’s quick and easy and while it can never be 100% reliable it might just help you to stay out of jail and avoid that arrest record.

The moment that you discover that you have a warrant you should make arrangements to hand yourself in and deal with any offence that you might be wanted for. It’s generally best to get yourself a lawyer to guide you through the correct way of doing this. Check for warrants often and stay out of jail.

Emma has written an amusing article about her experience which you can read here.

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Author: Steve Gee

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