Out-of-State Arrest Warrants
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What Are Some Common Issues with Arrest Warrants?
Criminal law and procedure are never boring, and the area of warrants are no exception. For many, when the word "arrest warrant" is mentioned, images of police yelling and banging down doors come to mind. The truth is usually far less dramatic than that.
Generally, for a warrant to be issued, something bad needs to happen. This means any of the following:
- Someone misses a court appearance
- Someone files a criminal complaint
- The police use an informant or show some other type of probable cause to a neutral magistrate
Once the warrant is issued, it is an official court order. It also gets entered into local law enforcement systems and national databases. When someone is picked up on an arrest warrant - especially one that was issued out-of-state - it is usually after being pulled over for a traffic offense or something far less dramatic than having their door kicked in.
Here are some common questions regarding out-of-state warrants.
If an Arrest Warrant Has Been Issued for Me in One State, Can I Be Arrested in Another?
Yes, but it really depends on what the warrant is for and how many resources the arresting state cares to expend on enforcing an out-of-state warrant. According to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and many comparable state rules, an arrest based on a valid warrant can be executed anywhere in the United States. Whether or not that arrest will occur, however, simply depends.
If Arrested, Where Will I Be Tried?
Generally, the only court that has jurisdiction over the matter is the court where the crime occurred, so the person arrested can only be tried in the state where the warrant was issued. This is where the seriousness of the offense comes into play, because in order to facilitate a trial, the person will need to be returned to the state where the crime was committed from the state they are currently in. This process is called extradition.
Do All States Have Extradition?
Nearly. Missouri and South Carolina appear to be the only two that have not adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA). The UCEA allows the arrest of fugitives in a state accused of a crime in another state for which the penalty is at least one year in jail. While Missouri and South Carolina have not adopted the UCEA, that does not necessarily mean they do not have their own state-specific extradition provisions.
Can I Fight Extradition?
Extradition is most common in serious cases, like murder or mayhem. Additionally, extradition is only proper when a person has been properly charged in the state they will be returned to. But, understandably, one cannot challenge whether they have been properly charged before being extradited. A defendant can always argue they were not in the state where the crime occurred, or that they were not in the state at the time the crime occurred. Ultimately, a judge will not likely entertain these arguments against extradiction where a judge of another state has already determined there is probable cause and has issued a warrant. This is not to say these arguments are not without merit, simply that judges are not quick to abide by these argument as a reason to ignore the well-reasoned decision of a fellow jurist.
What Are Extradition Waivers?
An extradition waiver is a document that waives a right to an extradition hearing. An extradition hearing will be held to determine if extradition is appropriate. If a defendant signs an extradition waiver, they give up the right to this hearing and will be returned to the state that issued the warrant. Extradition waivers are not available in every state, and are only desirable where
Can I Be Extradited to a Foreign Country?
International extradition is extremely uncommon. One example of where this may occur is If the United States has signed a treaty with the country seeking to have the individual extradited, and if the terms of the treaty calls for extradition. The United States usually requires evidence that shows a violation of the laws in both the United States and the other country. However, this sort of extradition may only occur where the individual is not a United States citizen. This is largely because, despite the treaty, the United States is more likely to follow the provisions of the Constitution, none of which could possibly support shipping American citizens to foreign countries to stand trial.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have had an arrest warrant issued for you, regardless of the state, the answer is unequivocally "yes." An experienced criminal defense attorney will have knowledge of the extradition process and can inform you of your rights. A criminal defense lawyer can also help you fight extradition and, if necessary, represent you in court.
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Last Modified: 06-15-2015 03:43 PM PDT
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