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Joseph A. Lombardo

A judge may issue arrest warrants for numerous reasons other than the commission of a crime. In New Jersey, these warrants never really go away, no matter how long it takes the police to execute the arrest.

Warrants may remain active until the police make the arrest, possibly indefinitely. Exactly when a warrant is executed depends on what kind of warrant is issued. Typical arrest warrants can be executed at almost any time and place. Bench warrants are typically executed whenever the police next happen to encounter the defendant. If you believe a warrant was issued for your arrest a long time ago, it is probably still active, and an attorney can help you clear it. Arrest warrants cannot expire, but the underlying reason for the arrest might become moot.

If you believe there is an old warrant out for your arrest, our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you work to clear the warrant and hopefully avoid being arrested. To schedule a free review of your case, call the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 418-4537.

How Long Are Warrants Active in New Jersey?

An arrest warrant in New Jersey is active from the time it is issued until the time it is executed or withdrawn. While law enforcement tries to execute arrest warrants relatively quickly, this does not happen in every case. Law enforcement often places warrants issued for minor reasons on the back burner, and weeks, months, or even years might go by before the police can execute the arrest.

There is a good reason why arrest warrants never expire. If they did, suspects would be incentivized to evade arrest until the clock ran down. Since warrants never expire, most suspects do not attempt to outrun law enforcement because they would be running forever. You should contact our Egg Harbor criminal defense attorneys for help with any outstanding warrants.

Standard arrest warrants issued when someone is suspected of committing a crime are often executed quickly. Bench warrants are different because they do not originate with law enforcement but come directly from a judge. Bench warrants are not issued for new crimes but violations of court orders. Many bench warrants are for minor issues, like missing a court date, and are not always a top priority of the police. As such, the most outstanding warrants are bench warrants.

When Are Warrants Executed in New Jersey?

As said before, a standard arrest warrant is usually executed fairly quickly. The police go through great pains to gather enough probable cause to convince a judge to issue the warrant. These warrants are also issued for more pressing matters, particularly new criminal offenses. As such, a standard arrest warrant is not left unfulfilled for very long.

Bench warrants are often issued for less immediate reasons, and law enforcement agents do not tend to go out of their way to execute them. For example, missing a court date or violating a court order may cause a judge to issue a bench warrant. The police often do not act on these warrants right away and sometimes wait until their next encounter with the defendant to execute the warrant. Many bench warrants are executed at traffic stops when the police officer looks up the driver in their database. Call our Linwood, NJ criminal defense attorneys for help immediately if you were arrested at a traffic stop.

An old warrant is highly likely a bench warrant. Although bench warrants are not issued for new crimes, they should not be disregarded. The underlying cause of a bench warrant might be very serious. For example, a judge would issue a bench warrant if a defendant failed to appear for a hearing regarding a serious violent crime. The judge in that case would be very upset, and the defendant would likely face serious consequences.

What to Do About Old Warrants in New Jersey

If you believe an old warrant is still out for your arrest, you should contact an attorney immediately. In some cases, when a police officer pulls over a driver during a traffic stop, they might tell them about the warrant without actually arresting them. This is more common in cases where the warrant is for a minor issue, like missing a traffic court hearing.

If your warrant is because you missed a hearing or need to be seen by a judge, our Mays Landing criminal defense attorneys can help you contact the court and arrange a new hearing. In some cases, the judge will withdraw the bench warrant once a new hearing is scheduled, as that is the only thing they really want.

In cases where the bench warrant is issued because the defendant allegedly skipped bail, the judge is unlikely to withdraw the warrant until the defendant is back in court. In many cases, judges not only refuse to withdraw the warrant but revoke the defendant’s bail so they cannot skip their next court date.

In other cases, there might be nothing to do but wait to be arrested. Unfortunately, there is sometimes no way around the inevitable, and you can surrender to law enforcement. Before doing so, you should speak to an attorney about your situation and have your lawyer with you when you confront the police.

Can Warrants Expire in New Jersey?

Warrants cannot expire, but the underlying reason for the warrant might become moot. For example, suppose a warrant is issued for your arrest, but the police cannot find you. Next, suppose the real culprit turns themselves in to the police. In that case, the warrant issued for your arrest would no longer be necessary because the real perpetrator has been arrested. If this sounds like your situation, you should still contact our Camden County criminal defense lawyers about having the warrant cleared from your record.

In other cases, a suspect might not be arrested before the statute of limitations on their alleged criminal offense expires. According to N.J.S.A. §§ 2C:1-6(b)(1)-(2), most indictable crimes must be prosecuted within 5 years of the crime being committed, and disorderly persons offenses must be prosecuted within 1 year. If you left the state, unaware that a warrant was issued for your arrest, and the police could not fund you until after the statute of limitations expired, the arrest warrant would be moot because the underlying offense could not be prosecuted.

Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help

If you know there is an old warrant out for your arrest, our Atlantic County criminal defense attorneys can help you address the issue and hopefully have the warrant withdrawn. For a free case review, call the Lombardo Law Group, LLC at (609) 418-4537.

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