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Felony Warrant in Another State: Can You Be Arrested? (2024)

If you have a felony warrant issued against you in another state, the consequences and actions taken can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the charges, the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued, and whether you are located within the jurisdiction of the warrant.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What is a Felony Warrant?

According to Legal Match, when law enforcement suspects an individual of engaging in criminal activity, a warrant may be issued by the court. This warrant grants authorities the legal authority to apprehend the individual and search for any related property [1].

A felony warrant is a warrant that is issued for an individual who is suspected of committing a felony offense, such as murder, felony assault, or armed robbery – LegalMatch

If you are subject to a felony warrant, it signifies the gravity of the accusations against you and the need for legal action to address the allegations. Understanding the implications of a felony warrant is crucial, as it can have significant legal consequences. If you find yourself in such a situation, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney is paramount to protect your rights and navigate the legal process effectively.

What if You’re Arrested and Have an Out of State Warrant?

Typically, an out-of-state felony arrest warrant empowers law enforcement to apprehend the suspect wherever they are found. Depending on the seriousness of the felony offense, police may collaborate across state lines, working with officers in the state where the warrant originated to locate and arrest the individual. Following an arrest, extradition back to the issuing state may occur, contingent upon the circumstances of the case.

In certain felony scenarios, individuals may find themselves subject to out-of-state arrest warrants. Under most jurisdictions’ criminal laws, a police officer in the state where the individual is located has the authority to arrest them for offenses committed outside that state.

Keep in mind that an arrest warrant normally gives law enforcement officials the power to detain someone anywhere, including in multiple states. Additionally, law enforcement authorities in the state that issued the felony warrant may work with officers in another state to make an arrest in serious felony cases (such as murder or rape charges).

How Extradition Laws Work

When an individual is wanted for an alleged crime in one state but is apprehended in another, the state pressing charges will typically initiate extradition proceedings to bring the individual to trial. Extradition, therefore, refers to the legal process of transferring an accused individual from one state to another.

In essence, extradition involves returning fugitives from justice to the state where they purportedly committed a crime or violated the conditions of their probation, parole, or bail.

It’s not uncommon for a defendant in one jurisdiction to be apprehended by law enforcement in a different jurisdiction, often because they fled to evade prosecution or were unaware of a pending warrant and relocated elsewhere.

This process ensures that states can repatriate fugitives to the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred, thereby ensuring accountability for their actions.

Extradition laws dictate the procedures for both the demanding state, which seeks extradition, and the asylum state, which responds to the extradition request.

Before someone can be extradited, there must be a court hearing to determine the validity of the arrest warrant, which is called a probable cause hearing or a “governor’s hearing”.

The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA)

The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA) serves as a legal framework that standardizes the extradition process among states across the United States.

It was designed to create a uniform, efficient, and effective system for surrendering accused persons from one state to another.

Nearly all states, including California, have adopted some version of the UCEA, highlighting its widespread acceptance and importance in interstate criminal proceedings.

Outlined within the UCEA are comprehensive legal guidelines governing the extradition process between states. These guidelines delineate the procedures and prerequisites for extradition, including the protocol for obtaining a governor’s warrant, which is essential for initiating extradition proceedings. Additionally, the UCEA specifies the circumstances under which a state may decline to surrender an individual sought for extradition.

The overarching goal of the UCEA is to ensure that fugitives who have fled from one state to another in an attempt to evade prosecution can be returned to the state where the alleged crime occurred to face legal proceedings. By establishing clear and standardized procedures, the UCEA facilitates the extradition process and promotes consistency and fairness across state lines.

Whether acting as the demanding or asylum state in interstate extradition, adherence to the guidelines outlined in the UCEA is essential for ensuring due process and effective cooperation among jurisdictions.

Defenses to Extradition on a Felony Warrant

According to FindLaw, there are limited defenses available in cases of extradition [2]. Generally, if the extradition process adheres to the guidelines outlined in the U.S. Constitution and federal law, the asylum state is obligated to surrender the fugitive to the demanding state.

However, there are a few recognized defenses, as delineated by the Supreme Court, which include:

  1. Validity of Extradition Request Documents: Ensuring that all necessary extradition request documents are in order is crucial. Any deficiencies or irregularities in the documentation may serve as grounds for defense.
  2. Existence of Criminal Charges: The demanding state must have formally charged the individual with a crime for extradition to proceed. The lack of formal charges can potentially be used as a defense.
  3. Identity Verification: Confirming that the person named in the extradition request is indeed the individual charged with the crime is essential. A mistaken identity can invalidate the extradition request.
  4. Fugitive Status: Establishing whether the individual is genuinely considered a fugitive from the requesting state is another potential defense.

If the fugitive’s petition or writ for habeas corpus is unsuccessful, the arresting state must hold them for the demanding state. The demanding state then has 30 days to retrieve the fugitive. If they don’t, the arresting state may release them.

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References:

1. https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/felony-warrant-search.html
2. https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/criminal-procedure/extradition-law

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