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Outstanding Warrants and Going Through the Airport

When a judge authorizes law enforcement to arrest an individual for a specific crime, that is known as an arrest warrant. Law enforcement needs to present sufficient probable cause, alongside other relevant information, e.g., the suspect is the same person listed in the warrant, to a judge before an arrest warrant can be signed.

An arrest warrant includes the name and location of the person to be arrested, the crime(s) in question, and additional detailed information. Under the arrest warrant, law enforcement is permitted to arrest a suspect at any location or time. However, if an arrest is not carried out for a significant period of time, it can become an outstanding warrant.

In this post, we will explain what an outstanding warrant is, what the consequences are for an individual, and what you should do if you discover you have an active outstanding arrest warrant.

What Is an Active Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

An active outstanding arrest warrant is a valid arrest warrant not used during the months or even years after it was issued. Unless stated otherwise, an outstanding warrant remains active and valid until the listed person is arrested. The "outstanding" part merely means the person named in the original arrest warrant is yet to be arrested.

Outstanding arrest warrants mean that the named person can be arrested at any time or place they are found – and by any law enforcement officer. For example, if the police question a person in relation to another crime, they can be arrested using a previous outstanding arrest warrant. Police routinely check for outstanding arrest warrants when investigating individuals for misdemeanors and other crimes.

When Does an Arrest Warrant Become Outstanding?

No arrest warrant is issued as being outstanding; arrest warrants become outstanding over time. If an arrest warrant becomes outstanding, the repercussions for the named person are not necessarily worse, as there are many potential reasons for a warrant to become outstanding:

  • The law enforcement agency tasked with serving the warrant has yet to do so.
  • The named person is unaware there is an arrest warrant against them.
  • The named person could be purposefully evading law enforcement.

Under two out of three of these circumstances, an individual has a reasonable excuse as to why they were not arrested. Erroneous outstanding warrants can occur if the wrong individual is arrested or the warrant is served. Still, due to a clerical error, it was not recorded in the law enforcement system.

What Are the Consequences of Having an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

There are two primary consequences of an active outstanding arrest warrant:

  • The named person can be arrested at any place or time within the U.S. – for example, when running errands.
  • The named person is tried on the original criminal offense behind the arrest warrant.

While there are no specific legal ramifications from an outstanding arrest warrant, evading law enforcement does weigh against an individual during a trial. When a person is in court, the defense against an outstanding warrant is a lack of awareness of its existence or a reasonable excuse to miss a court date or evade capture.

You should always speak to a defense attorney if you are being asked to provide a reason for missing an outstanding warrant.

What Should You Do After Discovering You Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

The named person is rarely aware of an arrest warrant upon the issuance. However, you can discover if you have an outstanding warrant by:

  • Visiting the local court's website. Input the relevant name and search the public records.
  • Asking directly at the local courthouse. Speak to the court clerk responsible for handling the matters, and provide them with the relevant name.

For federal search warrants, you should contact the federal clerk of court's office line – you will need to provide as much information as possible.

If the statute of limitations has not expired for the original charge behind the arrest warrant, you should always seek legal counsel.

Hire LA County's Trusted Defense Attorney

With an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can negotiate a reasonable solution to an active outstanding arrest warrant. Your lawyer will help draft what defense you can use against the original criminal charges. Reach out to the Law Office of William Kroger for a free consultation. Call us today at 323-655-5700.

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