Do Felony Warrants Expire?
Legal Issues

Do Felony Warrants Expire?

Do felony warrants expire

If you or someone you love has been convicted of a felony, you’re probably wondering if felony warrants ever expire.  After all, having a felony warrant out for your arrest isn’t ideal and if plan on finding a job it simply can’t be there.  In this post, we will discuss if felony warrants ever expire.

Points Covered in this Article:

  • When a Bench Arrest Warrant is Issued
  • The Issuance of an Arrest Warrant
  • Defining a Summons to Appear
  • Dismissing a Warrant-related Case
  • The Definition of a Search Warrant

The expiration date on felony warrants does not expire. To understand a little bit more about the process, it is helpful to define a warrant and its role in the arrest process. A presiding judge issues all arrest warrants.

However, the type of warrant that is issued depends on the crime, case or violation. While most warrants for arrest are typically related to criminal activities, warrants for arrest may also be issued for civil offenses. Therefore, the types of warrants that are issued depend on the nature of the case and the violation.

A Bench Arrest Warrant

An example of an arrest warrant in a civil case might cover a civil defendant who is ordered to pay child support and does not pay the court-ordered judgment. Therefore, a warrant for their arrest is issued. After their arrest, the defendant may be mandated to stay in jail until the support is paid. Anytime a defendant does not comply with a court’s ruling, the arrest warrant that is issued is called a bench warrant.

Issuing an Arrest Warrant

A criminal arrest warrant might involve a case where the defendant is a suspected drug dealer. In this case, the police usually use surveillance equipment in the gathering of evidence and then file a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. The information collected is based on the amount of probable evidence that is collected. If a judge believes that enough evidence has been gathered to constitute probable evidence, he issues a warrant for arrest.

Many times, lawyers receive calls from felons who know that a warrant for their arrest has been issued and are nervous about the next step law enforcement might take. Usually, when they make calls of this nature, the legal representative determines what type of warrant was issued. In other words, was the warrant issued for the defendant’s arrest, their non-compliance to appear in court or to search of the defendant’s premises?

A Summons to Appear

It is also important that a warrant be distinguished from a summons, which a prosecutor issues to make sure that the receiver appears in court on a specific date. A summons to appear is usually issued when an alleged crime does not entail the use of firearms or violence, such as a traffic violation. However, it can be issued in response to a felony.

The Possible Dismissal of a Warrant-related Case

After the details are confirmed, lawyers are often asked if the warrant, especially if it involves felony charge, will expire at some point. The answer, as indicated above, is “no.” However, with that being said, if you are arrested on a warrant that was issued several years ago, you can ask the judge to dismiss your case, based on your Sixth Amendment Right to a speedy trial. This type of motion in a court of law is known as a “Serna Motion” and references the court case People v. Serna (1985) 40 Cal.3d 239).

Just because you did not receive a speedy trial though, a Serna Motion does not guarantee that you will receive a dismissal. That’s because the right to a speedy trial only is applicable if the crime involves a possible prison sentence or jail time. For one to win the motion too, they cannot be considered a fugitive or have fled his state of residence when they knew a warrant was issued.

The motion must also allege that the prosecution did not employ reasonable diligence in order to locate the defendant. The prosecution, in an opposing the motion, must show that it did attempt to find the defendant.

When recently issued, an arrest warrant usually arises after the judge is convinced that a crime has been committed and believes the defendant  is the perpetrator. A warrant for an arrest can also be issued after a grand jury indictment.

For an arrest warrant to be issued, the court does not need the perpetrator’s address. This lack of information allows police to arrest a defendant either at work or his home. Once the warrant is issued, the police must execute the order without delay.

Therefore, any warrants for a felony arrest can be executed any time of the day.  However, misdemeanor warrants can only be executed between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. unless an arrest is made in a public facility or the warrants states certain time limits.

A Search Warrant

A search warrant is different from a bench warrant or arrest warrant in that it permits the police to search your vehicle or location but does not end up in an arrest. When a bench warrant or arrest warrant is issued, it is best to consult an attorney about getting into contact with a bail bond company. Bail, however, is not permitted in certain situations – primarily instances where a serious sex crime or capital crime has been committed. Bail is not allowed either for violations of probation or parole.

Now that you have a general overview of how warrants work and know their issuance is serious, you can better anticipate how to proceed once you contact legal counsel about your particular case.

If you don’t have your own legal counsel, we recommend that you use our partner LegalMatch.  This is a service that allows you to find the best lawyer for your case and figure out the next steps.

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