Arrest Warrant

A friend of mine (cliche, but I’m being serious here) has a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear in Virginia. He says that there was a website that had his info (name, case number, that it had been moved to a fugitive file). He found it by typing his name into Google. Now it’s gone and he thinks the warrant is magically non existent. I told him it doesn’t work that way but I honestly don’t know much about the criminal justice system. Warrants stick around forever, right? Until you’re arrested?

Arrest warrants don’t expire. I wonder if the website was legitimate.

It doesn’t sound like your friend is the sharpest knife in the drawer. If he is worried about it, he can call the state of Virginia and find out. Or just go back and get stopped for running a stop sign or something. That would work too.


It appears that in a few jurisdictions, warrants for minor offenses MAY be allowed to expire. However, one should assume that the warrant remains active forever.

If he knows the county where the warrant issued, he could call their warrants division and ask if the warrant exists, which where I live is part of the county sheriff’s department.

Maybe he once forgot to return a Tom Green VHS tape.

Quite true. It depends on the offense and the jurisdiction.

These private databases and pay sites are of dubious accuracy. I know when we ask our dispatchers if someone has warrants it takes a while to check NCIC, state traffic warrants and state criminal warrants. And that is going straight to the source.

What if the offense for which the arrest warrant was issued has gone beyond the statute of limitations? Is the warrant still valid?

Unless your friend has some reason to believe the cops may actually be looking for him, my first guess is that it is a scam.

Oh well the search engines do respond to “thats libeling or slandering me” type requests,
so its unclear that the disappearing data disappeared because it was false, or disappeared because it was true or disappeared because it was stolen.
There are official sources. But of course what if they forget to load 57% into database, the omitted warranted aren’t actually invalidated, its just not there in that particular database for someone to find.

But see here… a city puts violent criminals up and many failure to appear warrants…

Don’t worry , I did just guess a letter to look at.
If he really wants to be sure, then he should request his virginia record. or maybe cheaper and faster to request his record from the city … Although I guess that might be a bit difficult as they may want to see him in Virginia…
or need his current address etc.

Maybe engage a lawyer ? Or just buy a one way ticket to Virginia and say hello ?

There is no ‘hide and seek’ rule, where you can run from the cops and escape the crime if you hide out long enough - the time on a statute of limitations doesn’t run if there’s a legal process that you’re avoiding. If the warrant is for failure to appear like in the OP, then there isn’t any statute of limitations, because you’re still committing the criminal act of not showing up to court as ordered; you don’t stop committing failure to appear until you actually appear (or contact the court and sort it out if it’s something minor).

If it is fresh warrant, meaning it is for the original charge that was never served, it is not for failure to appear. The principle here is that the statute of limitations pertains to how many years you have to build a case and have probable cause for a warrant. The clock stops ticking when the warrant is issued. Many jurisdictions recognize that it becomes increasingly hard to get a conviction the longer it is so warrants for minor offenses may disappear by statute. But not everywhere.

This seems to be a trend among the so called “background check” websites that seem to be all over the web these days - if someone does a search for what it somehow recognizes as a person’s name then these sites will return results implying that said person has legal issues in a location relevant to that person’s life in order to get them to purchase a subscription out of urgency. I’m not trying to imply that your friend is automatically in the clear but, at a minimum, a smell test is in order. Also, I’ve experienced the same lags that Loach refers to when conducting background checks when working in the legal profession, and bear in mind that this was utilizing privately owned services available to private practice lawyers, not the original sources that he has access to (he works as a LEO in some capacity, I believe).

As far as I know, an arrest warrant lasts forever unless it’s specifically cancelled. I know of a guy who was arrested on a sixteen year old warrant (and he was arrested in Arizona on a New York warrant). I probably signed a couple hundred warrants when I was working; I’ve been retired for years and they’re still in effect.

Or according to the latest SCOTUS ruling being discussed, just walk across a parking lot.