Ever heard the urban legend about a man who was recently arrested on a warrant issued over a decades-old traffic violation?
The story goes that for years, the man was unaware that law enforcement was looking for him. It wasn’t until the man was pulled over by police for a minor violation that he learned about the warrant and was arrested.
Arrest warrants are a law enforcement tool that can appear confusing to people outside of the justice system. They can seemingly pop up out of nowhere or dog an innocent person until they surrender to the police.
In general, arrest warrants are obtained by police who petition the court for the arrest of a suspect.
Unlike a standard arrest, in which police take a suspect into custody around the same time and place as an alleged incident, an arrest warrant can be executed by police at pre-planned times and places or if an officer happens to come into contact with a person who has a warrant out for their arrest.
If you or a loved one have a warrant out for your arrest, or if you suspect one may exist, it is important that you understand what exactly an arrest warrant is as well as your Constitutional rights regarding police custody.
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the arrest warrant process and choose the best legal path forward.
What is an arrest warrant?
In South Carolina, if there is an arrest warrant out for you or a loved one, it means that a law enforcement officer or security guard successfully persuaded a magistrate or municipal judge to find “probable cause” that a crime was committed by an identified individual. To avoid confusion, separate warrants can be issued for each offense, meaning a single person could have multiple warrants of arrest seeking their capture.
Could there be a warrant out for my arrest right now?
Maybe. In South Carolina, arrest warrants don’t expire and police can decide when to enforce them. Ideally, arrest warrants should be served within a timely manner, according to South Carolina law, but there is no official timeline for this.
What kinds of charges can be included in an arrest warrant?
Arrest warrants can be issued for many alleged crimes including burglary, theft, white-collar crimes, insurance fraud, internet crimes, assault and battery, sexual assault, and domestic violence, among other charges.
What happens if I’m arrested on a warrant?
Most likely, you will be arraigned in court. An arrest warrant constitutes the charging paper or trial document. It informs the defendant of the charges he or she faces. Warrants can be amended before trial. If this happens, defendants must be given adequate time to prepare a new defense, according to South Carolina law.
How do I fight arrest warrant charges?
If you’ve been charged with a crime or are under investigation, it is important to get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Matt Bodman is a former assistant state prosecutor in Richland County, South Carolina (which includes Columbia), who left the field to become a celebrated criminal defense lawyer and has been defending clients in the Columbia region for nearly 25 years. If you are facing criminal charges, or are aware of or suspect there is a warrant out for your arrest, contact us today for a free consultation.