There are several different types of warrants. They each serve a different purpose. Courts and police use them in a variety of criminal offenses.
Neither felony or misdemeanor arrest or bench warrants expire. But, there may be other types of warrants involved in a felony case that do expire.
In this article, you will find information about different types of warrants. These warrants include;
- Arrest warrant
- Bench warrant
- Execution warrant
- Search warrant
These are warrants involved in all types of criminal cases, including felony. This information covers the warrant’s purpose and whether they expire.
This is the type of warrant that people usually think of when they hear the word “warrant”. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies need to arrest someone without having seen the crime. This is where arrest warrants come in.
First, law enforcement agencies and detectives complete the criminal investigation. After that, they present the evidence to the local judge.
If the judge has probable cause to believe that the person is guilty, he or she issues an arrest warrant. Probable cause is a legal term that means there is enough evidence to believe guilt. With the arrest warrant, law enforcement is able to take you into custody.
Unlike what many people hope, there is no type of arrest warrant that expires. The longer an arrest warrant lasts, the worse it will present to the court. If you have a warrant out for your arrest, it is best to turn yourself in as you will not “get away with it”.
A bench warrant is like an arrest warrant in that police use them to detain someone. But, a bench warrant is not used for the initial arrest. Instead, judges issue bench warrants to arrest people when they do not show up to court.
Judges may also issue bench warrants against people other than the defendant. For example, he or she may issue a bench warrant against a witness that did not come to testify in court.
Police use bench warrants to arrest people, though. So, even if they were not charged with a crime at first, they will still be under arrest.
Bench warrants, like arrest warrants, do not expire.
This refers to warrants that call for the execution, or death, of the convicted felon. Not every state has the death penalty. So, not every state uses execution warrants.
States vary is whose responsibility it is to issue the execution warrant. Sometimes, it will be the judge and other times it may be a different government official. This might be the governor of the state.
Unlike the other two warrants mentioned above, execution warrants do expire. The date on which the execution warrant expires differs state to state. But, it is usually 60 days after the judge or other government official signs the warrant.
If the warrant does expire before the execution occurs, then the person returns to death row. They then await a new execution date.
A judge issues a search warrant to allow police to search for evidence. Search warrants can be for people, locations (ex. someone’s house), or vehicles. Police can confiscate the evidence found during the execution of the search warrant.
Search warrants are only granted if there is probable cause. This means that police and investigators must be certain that there is evidence. They must also be certain that the evidence is in the location identified by the search warrant.
Search warrants can expire. The date depends on state legislature and details of the case. Generally, search warrants last for a couple weeks.
What if a Warrant is Wrongfully Issued?
In some cases, the judge or government official may issue a warrant to the wrong person. If this is the case, you do have a few options.
First, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to help you, since you are dealing with legal matters. After that, make sure you know the basics of your warrant. This includes;
- Verification of the warrant
- Reason for the warrant
- Needed responses to the warrant
Verifying the Warrant
If you believe that there is a warrant out for your arrest, you should be verify that this is true. You can call the court clerk to check, as long as you have a name and case number.
This is usually public information. Because of this, you likely will not need to identify yourself. The court clerk will usually not ask for your name either. So, you will not need to worry about getting taken into custody for inquiring.
Understanding the Reason for the Warrant
There are several reasons why a judge or government official issues a warrant. You will need to know the reason before presenting your case to an attorney or the court. Some of the reasons why you may have a warrant include;
- Missing a court appearance
- Missing community services or other court-ordered meetings
- Violating probation or parole
- Failing to pay fees or fines
Responding to Your Arrest Warrant
For certain charges, an attorney may be able to appear in court on your behalf. In this case, you are no longer under arrest. For example, attorneys can usually handle misdemeanors on your behalf. This is very unlikely with felony warrants, though.
You can argue against a warrant if you believe you are innocent. Sometimes, you may be able to present your argument via mail. This may be less likely with felony warrants. But, you can check the court website or call the court clerk for more information.
You could also argue the warrant or charges in person. But, it is highly recommended to have an attorney with you in this case.
You could also pay fees or fines associated with the warrant. In some cases, the warrant can get dismissed once you resolve the payment.
One last suggestion is to determine if you ever received the initial notice. If you needed to appear in court, but were never made aware, let the court know. In this case, the court may drop the arrest or bench warrant.
Tips for Dealing with Felony Warrants
Having a warrant out for your arrest is scary. But, since you cannot avoid felony warrants, you need to know how to handle them.
First, contact an attorney if possible. Dealing with a felony charge is not easy for someone to do alone. You will need expert help on the matter. You can ask for a public defender if you are unable to pay for your own private attorney.
Do not try to take your felony case into your own hands. You may believe that your actions were justified or you may not have done the crime. Either way, have your attorney speak to the court about this on your behalf.
Second, be compliant. The court system is going to be much more sympathetic toward you if you show a good faith effort to comply. You will also present better to a jury in a trial. This may lead to lesser charges or sentences.
So, even if you believe you had a legitimate reason to commit the crime, do not avoid arrest. The court can also had more charges to your record for evading arrest. It is best to follow directions and try to be as civil as possible with them.
Third, follow any court-mandated follow up orders. As tedious as they may seem, follow through with any orders. Again, police may rearrest you if you violate orders.
So, do the community service, counseling, court appearance, or whatever the court asks you to do. These may also give you more future opportunities, despite your felony conviction.
If you do get convicted and need to spend time in jail or prison, continue to be compliant and polite. You may be eligible for parole if you show good behavior.
Also remember to take advantage of services offered. For instance, many correctional facilities offer education or therapy groups to inmates. Also look into participating in a work release or facility job. These actions will make life easier once you get out.
The legal system is complex. Understanding warrants and your rights can make it much easier to deal with.
The above information has taught you the basics of warrants and how to respond to them. This information may not help you avoid arrest or conviction. But, it will likely make the process easier and lead to less criminal sanctions.
Cornell University. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/rule_41
Fly, A.M. (2015, May 17). Systematic pre-execution delay: Both a source of and a protection against the arbitrary administration of the death penalty in the U.S. Retrieved from Dickinson College website: https://scholar.dickinson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1196&context=student_honors
Warrant control unit. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/POL/Chief/bureaus/management/IMTD/warrantunit.html