The Statute of Limitations for Arrest Warrants

By Dan Howard - Updated April 12, 2017

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Most people are familiar with the legal idea of a statute of limitations, which states that you can no longer be tried for a crime after a certain amount of time has elapsed. However, if you have an outstanding arrest warrant there is no statute of limitations for enforcing that warrant.

Bench Warrants

A bench warrant may be issued if you are found to be in contempt of court, if you fail to appear at a court date, or if you fail to comply with court restitution orders. If you have an outstanding bench warrant there is no applicable statute of limitations and you may be arrested at any time.

Felony Warrants

If you have an outstanding felony warrant there is no statute of limitations for your arrest. You may be arrested and incarcerated by law enforcement authorities at any time.

Misdemeanor Warrants

An arrest warrant is necessary if a misdemeanor occurs outside of a police officer's immediate view. As with felony and bench warrants, there is no statute of limitations for misdemeanor arrest warrants.

Why Statutes of Limitations Do not Apply

There is no statute of limitations for arrest warrants because the issuance of a warrant indicates that the court has deemed that there is enough evidence to try a criminal case. Once the prosecution process has commenced there is no point at which the state's ability to prosecute expires.

Outstanding Warrants

If you have an outstanding arrest warrant, any attorney you consult is legally obligated to advise you to return to the jurisdiction that issued the warrant and face the charges brought against you. Facing your charges is the only way to stop being viewed as a fugitive in the eyes of the law.

About the Author

Dan Howard is a sports and fitness aficionado who holds a master's degree in psychology. Howard's postgraduate research on the brain and learning has appeared in several academic books and peer-reviewed psychology journals.

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