There are several ways a person can get an out-of-state warrant for their arrest. Usually, out-of-state warrants for arrest happen during traveling, whether for leisure or business. But just because something happened in a different zip code does not mean you can ignore it. 

How Do People End Up With Out-of-State Warrants for Arrest?

Maybe you got a little out of control on vacation and did a little shoplifting. Some travelers bring their firearms on weekend camping trips and inadvertently violate a neighboring state’s licensing requirements. 

For one reason or another, you didn’t take the court hearing date in that other state seriously. Now, you’re wondering if there’s a bench warrant out for your arrest. What’s worse, you’re not even sure what happens if you have a bench warrant. Here’s what you need to know. 

Out-of-state arrest warrants or bench warrants are urgent legal matters. They require your immediate attention or the consequences will only get worse. 

You can be arrested on another state’s bench warrant at any time. Even worse, if you come into contact with law enforcement officers in a chance situation, like a traffic stop, you may be arrested on the out-of-state bench warrant. 

When Is a Bench Warrant Issued?

A bench warrant is simply an arrest warrant issued by the judge “from the bench.” Usually, this happens when a defendant fails to appear in court after receiving a legal citation to appear. 

Since your absence violated a court rule, the court is able to take judicial notice of the facts of your violation. When a court issues a bench warrant, the purpose is simple: to bring the defendant before the court. 

The judge who issues the bench warrant authorizes law enforcement to arrest you on sight. Your personal information is put into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and any officer who stops you can check the database.

You are not necessarily going to be charged criminally for your failure to appear. However, under certain circumstances, you may be extradited to the state where the bench warrant was issued. 

What Does It Mean To Be Extradited?

When you’re on spring break or living it up on a party weekend with your pals, you might not think about how your actions can impact your everyday life: your professional life, your family, your financial situation. But if you’re extradited, you will realize serious disruption in your life. 

Extradition just means transporting to another place for criminal prosecution. Whether another state has a request for your extradition depends on the seriousness of the charge and the policy of the state and its law enforcement agencies. 

Some states may choose not to extradite defendants for non-violent crimes like DUI or simple assault. For more serious charges, like involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide, extradition is more likely. 

Whether you’re extradited can depend on the region where you come in contact with law enforcement. If a bench warrant is issued, states can add a “rider” that describes the situations in which they are willing to facilitate extradition. The rider can describe a region, like “the Northeast” or list a series of states (Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia).  

What Should I Do If I Have an Out-of-State Arrest Warrant?

If you have an out-of-state arrest warrant, or if you suspect you may have one, you should reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. You cannot outrun or hide from a bench warrant just because it was issued in another state. Eventually, it will catch up with you and it’s always easier to deal with these issues proactively.