When you are facing an outstanding warrant in PA and move, you are subject to arrest in your new location. However, whether you are considered a fugitive depends on a variety of factors.
Understanding a Warrant
A warrant is a formal authorization from a judge that allows law enforcement officers to arrest you. The court will issue the warrant if it believes probable cause exists that you have committed a crime or have violated the terms of an agreement after a conviction.
Some of the reasons why a judge may issue a warrant include:
- Suspicion of committing a crime
- Failure to appear in a scheduled court case
- Failure to pay fines
- Failure to take care of parking or driving tickets
- Failure to follow the terms of probation or parole agreement
Items other than those we have listed here could also lead to a judge issuing a warrant.
Consequences of a Warrant
Once a warrant has been issued against you, law enforcement can arrest you at any time. You then would be brought before a judge to answer for the reason the court issued the warrant in the first place.
With some warrants, law enforcement may actively search for the person on the warrant for an arrest. In other types of warrants, officers may only arrest the person with the warrant if they have been stopped for a traffic violation or if the officer spots the person in public.
Understanding Who Is a Fugitive
A fugitive is considered someone who purposefully has left one legal jurisdiction to avoid facing charges in a criminal proceeding. Fleeing the jurisdiction where you have a legal issue for another state or county can lead to the issuance of a warrant for your arrest and may also make you a fugitive.
According to federal and state laws, a fugitive can be extradited from his or her new location back to the original jurisdiction to appear before the court. Extradition is the act of law enforcement sending a person it has arrested to another jurisdiction to face charges there.
Tracking fugitives who could be extradited from one state to another occurs at the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). When someone is arrested, law enforcement will check the NCIC for outstanding warrants in other states. Some of those warrants will request extradition.
To avoid extradition, you may want to take care of this problem now. You may find the original warrant is for a minor offense, and you and your defense attorney can easily take care of it, freeing you from the possibility of being extradited.
Determining If You Are At Risk of Extradition
The state that issued the original arrest warrant will decide whether to have the fugitive extradited. Certain states may choose to only undertake an extradition when a felony crime has been committed. Others may only use extradition to deal with violent or repeat criminals.
Should a state request extradition, the arrested party has the right to question the legality of the request under PA Code Statute 43, § 9131. A defense attorney can study the facts of the case and file a motion to fight the extradition, or the fugitive can accept the extradition.
If you have an outstanding warrant in PA and move from one county to another inside the state, you still could be subject to return to the county where the warrant exists.
As with extradition between states, the type of arrest warrant and the type of crime you are alleged to have committed will determine whether you will be sent back to the county where the warrant originated.
Protecting Your Right to Adequate Defense
If you have an outstanding warrant in a county or state other than where you currently live, such as if you have an outstanding warrant in PA and moved, you have the right to retain a defense lawyer who can defend your rights.
If the warrant is for a lesser crime, your attorney may be able to settle the warrant without you needing to appear. In other cases, though, where the warrant is issued for a significant crime, you may have to make a personal appearance in the original jurisdiction. You also may be considered a fugitive.
Count on a trusted criminal lawyer, such as the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., to walk you through the process of defending yourself and protecting your rights in a case like this. Call us at (610) 680-7842 for a free consultation. After you hire us, you will find that we take pride in our quick responses to our clients. We are always available through social media, phone calls, texts, or e-mail.