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Old 03-01-2009, 01:56 AM
Mr Buttons Mr Buttons is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Lancaster, PA
Posts: 467
Does a Bench Warrant Expire?

I've been pondering this for almost a year now. A friend of mine had a DUI around 2003, never showed to court, and no sheriff has shown up at his door (though he has moved since the initial violation).

It's been almost 5 years since the warrant's been issued, he has been keeping a low-profile, and never went to jail yet. He heard from a friend that after 5-7 years the warrants expire and he won't have to keep the low-profile.

I guess my question is, if he walked into a police station in 2010, and asked if he had a warrant out for his name, could they take him in for an offense for something that happened in 2003?

*I guess I should add this happened in PA, since I'm sure state statutes are different in these cases
Old 03-01-2009, 02:48 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Antioch
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God forbid he should consult a lawyer in his jurisdiction and receive a clear answer. It's much better to speculate on the internet and have him rely on our half-assed assertions.
Old 03-01-2009, 07:16 AM
Thalion Thalion is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: At the beach
Posts: 520
In Washington state, bench warrants (for misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors) expire after three years. However, the courts can review them at that time and choose to reissue them and continue doing so every three years.

I dealt with one case with a guy being arrested on a warrant fourteen years after the original crime occurred (it was a DUI case).
Old 03-01-2009, 08:03 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
God forbid he should consult a lawyer in his jurisdiction and receive a clear answer. It's much better to speculate on the internet and have him rely on our half-assed assertions.
God forbid he should research the situation first so he can go to a lawyer confident in knowing what he was talking about.
Old 03-01-2009, 12:22 PM
razncain razncain is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: TX & CO
Posts: 1,437
He better turn himself in

The statue of limitations was met in your state, but unfortunately if he skipped court the SOL does not run, and they will still have a warrant for his or her arrest. All of this according to this cite.

Here’s someone asking almost the exact question to a couple of lawyers for a friend of his having a DUI in 2004 in PA.

question:”A friend of mine was arrested for DUI in 2004 and skipped court. How long does the state have to bring him to court for prosecution before statute of limitations runs out?”

Answers from two lawyers. The first replying:

“They have met the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations does NOT run if the defendant skips court. Skipping court is no way to run out the SOL. There is no doubt a bench warrant for your friend's arrest, and has been since he skipped out.”

And the second:

“Tell your "friend" that there is a warrant out for his / her arrest. They better retain an attorney sooner than later, b/c if they don't turn themselves in first, they will probably be caught and spend a few months in jail awaiting trial b/c bail nay not be granted!”
Old 03-01-2009, 02:11 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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I can't answer for all states. I know that New Jersey warrants don't expire. Statue of limitations are for how long they have to charge someone. Not get a conviction. You don't get rewarded for skipping successfully. In NJ that goes for traffic tickets too since the warrant is actually for contempt of court (a crime) rather than the original offense. In the past when most local warrants were paper warrants it was probably easy to get away with. Now everything is electronic and impossible to get away from. Most of the time when I see someone come in for an old warrant it is because they are trying to get a driver's license or other professional license and are told they can't because of the warrant. In one case I remember the judge got pissed because the defendant didn't appear until after the death of the officer. The original charge couldn't be proven but the judge whacked him on the contempt charge.
Old 03-01-2009, 02:36 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Location: I am Queens Boulevard
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In New York I just observed a guy getting arraigned after he was picked up on a 25 year old warrant.
Old 03-01-2009, 03:24 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: the front of beyond
Posts: 4,054
Well okay, I have a four-year-old warrant in California for no headlight on my bike. No, seriously. I guess it isn't going to go away either, eh? Dang.
Old 03-01-2009, 03:35 PM
Seven Seven is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 4,124
Originally Posted by brujaja View Post
Well okay, I have a four-year-old warrant in California for no headlight on my bike. No, seriously. I guess it isn't going to go away either, eh? Dang.
No bicycle headlight?!?!

Oh man, I hope they lock you up and throw away the key.

Old 03-01-2009, 04:42 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 67,338
Florida bench warrants don't expire. I don't know about elsewhere, but down here enforcing old bench warrants is the sheriffs' offices' "thing you do when there's nothing else that needs doing"- like closing old files if you're an administrator.

So, if you have a warrant out, and they don't show up in the first few weeks, you'll probably be alright for a while.

Of course, sooner or later you get pulled over for a broken taillight or speeding or whatever and you're toast.
Old 03-01-2009, 08:25 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: my Herkimer Battle Jitney
Posts: 73,042
In Ohio, felony bench warrants never expire, IIRC, although the police will not exactly be knocking themselves out trying to track down the guy who was charged with selling a rock of crack cocaine in 1992. Misdemeanor warrants in my muni court are recalled en masse after a decade.


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