Sometimes, people who are not familiar with the criminal justice system in Philadelphia make the mistake of assuming that warrant automatically means a warrant for your arrest. However, aside from arrest warrants, there are two other types of warrants that are commonly used by Philadelphia courts: bench warrants and search warrants. Each of these types of warrants is different, and each has different rules about whether and when they expire. Any time that you learn an arrest, search, or bench warrant has been issued against you, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer in Philadelphia like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long as soon as possible. The quicker you reach out to us, the better chance we have of resolving your situation successfully. Below, our skilled lawyers explain the differences between the three types of warrants, whether and how each type can expire, and what happens if they do.
Do Philadelphia Bench Warrants Expire?
Bench warrants are issued by a judge when you fail to fulfill one of your duties or obligations under the criminal system. The main reason a judge might issue a bench warrant is if you do not appear as required for your court date. However, judges can also issue bench warrants for those who have not paid fines and fees or child support as required or who fail to appear as a witness when subpoenaed. Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant is issue by the judge on their own initiative, without an application from law enforcement. Also unlike an arrest warrant, the police will typically not seek you out to arrest you for a bench warrant.
However, this does not mean that you will not eventually be arrested. Bench warrants do not expire, and any time you come into contact with law enforcement, they will likely run a warrant check to see if there are any outstanding warrants against you. Commonly, this will occur at a routine traffic stop, and if a warrant is found you will be arrested and transported to the jurisdiction from which the warrant originated.
Since these warrants never expire, you cannot beat them by running out the clock. The best way to deal with a bench warrant is to deal with it before you end up arrested. You can do this by contacting an experienced Philadelphia bench warrant attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, who can reach out to the police and court to try to work out a deal for you to surrender without being arrested and brought before a judge as quickly as possible. We understand that sometimes you may have a valid excuse for the bench warrant being issued, such as missing court due to a medical emergency, and we will tell your side of the story to the judge in an effort to persuade them to quash the warrant without imposing further penalties. An attorney may also be able to guide you on how to get a warrant lifted in Pennsylvania.
Do Philadelphia Arrest Warrants Expire?
Like bench warrants, arrest warrants do not expire. However, they may be subject to the underlying statute of limitations governing how long after the commission of a crime a suspect can be charged. Unlike bench warrants, these warrants are issued after an application from the police to the judge when they believe they have enough evidence to arrest a suspect for a crime. They are also usually acted upon immediately, meaning that once a judge issues an arrest warrant, the police will seek you out to place you under arrest right away.
Usually, you will not have notice that an arrest warrant has been issued and you are going to be placed under arrest. If you do learn a warrant has been issued, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long as soon as possible. We can try to work out a deal for you to surrender without being publicly arrested. If you have already been arrested, our skilled Philadelphia bail hearing attorneys will fight to get you released quickly on little or no bail, and then can begin working on getting the underlying charges downgraded or dismissed. We can also comb over the arrest warrant to be sure it has been validly issued and executed and challenge it if we think there was no probable cause for the judge to issue.
Do Philadelphia Search Warrants Expire?
A search warrant, like an arrest warrant, is issued by a judge after an application made by the police or prosecutors. The applicant must show that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime may be found on the property that is sought to be searched, such as your home, business, or car. If the warrant is issued, however, it will be limited in scope and time, meaning that these warrants, unlike arrest and bench warrants, usually do expire.
First and foremost, the officers can only search the area described in the warrant and can only search in a place where the item being searched for could reasonably be. For example, if the warrant allows you to search in a home’s basement for a large gun thought to be relevant to a gun possession or felony discharge of a firearm charge, the police cannot search in the attic or search anywhere in the basement where the gun could not reasonably be, such as in a small jewelry box. In terms of timeliness, the warrant will usually note an expiration date on it. If this is the case, and if it is not executed in a timely manner, our skilled Philadelphia illegal search and seizure attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can work to get any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search excluded from being used against you in your case.
If You Are Concerned about a Warrant, Call Our Skilled Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Bench warrants, arrest warrants, and search warrants each require a unique response in order to mitigate any damage that has already been done, protect your rights, and keep you from facing further criminal liability. While the first two types of warrants typically do not expire, search warrants often do. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, our veteran Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys have years of experience working with clients dealing with a all three types of warrants to bring their matter to a successful resolution. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (215) 302-0171.