3 Freedoms You May Lose When a Warrant is Issued for Your Arrest

A California arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement to arrest and apprehend you if you are suspected of committing a crime outside of the presence of an officer.

Judges issue arrest warrants based upon the evidence presented to them by an officer or District Attorney. Also, an arrest warrant can be issued following a grand jury indictment. In order to be lawful, a California arrest warrant must include the name of the defendant, the accused crime, the time of issuance, the county of issuance, the signature and title of the judge, and lastly, the name of the court.

Once a warrant is issued it is important to know the repercussions that occur before an arrest is made. In California, if there is a warrant out for your arrest you may lose some freedoms in order to prevent your sudden exodus from the local authorities. From small misdemeanors to serious felonies, the law is consistent as to how a warrant’s prohibitive measures function. If there is any warrant issued in your name these are 3 things you need to know:

1. You Cannot Drive

You might have to find an alternate mode of transportation when a warrant is out for your arrest. If any warrant for your arrest is issued, the court is required to promptly inform the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV will suspend your driver’s license until you have proved to the DMV, with the proper paperwork, that the warrant has been nullified.

2. You Cannot Fly (Even Within State Lines)

If a warrant is out for your arrest, you may not be able to travel by plane. Basic airline security protocol involves checking databases for any outstanding warrants amongst their passenger lists. If you have an outstanding warrant, your name should come up in the database which will then prohibit you from boarding your plane on any domestic flight. As for International flights, if you have an outstanding warrant, you will not clear the background check that occurs when you apply for a visa, or the background check that occurs when you attempt to enter the country with your passport. In most situations, if a warrant for your arrest is discovered while you are attempting to board a plane, you will be arrested immediately.

An important note regarding leaving the state of California is your knowledge of the issuance of the warrant:

a) If you are conscious of a warrant out for your arrest, and you flee, you will be held accountable as a fugitive from the law and will be subject to extradition back to California. 

b) However, if you are not aware of the existence of your warrant, you may not be considered a fugitive, and this will alter the terms in which you are brought back to California to face your pending charges.

3. The Police Do Not Need an Actual Copy of the Arrest Warrant to Arrest You

It should be noted that there is no requirement that the officers executing the warrant have an actual copy of it, as long as they can prove that they were legally informed about its existence. An instance where an officer wouldn’t have a copy of the warrant typically occurs when an officer stops you for a traffic violation and, after running your driver’s license, learns of the outstanding warrant.

If you have an outstanding warrant, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.