Having a warrant for your arrest is a serious matter. A warrant will allow law enforcement to arrest you and put you in jail while you wait for trial. This prospect of spending time in jail can be incredibly distressing for individuals awaiting their day in court. Accordingly, people with warrants may be wondering what they are able to do and are not able to do while there is a warrant for their arrest. This can include questions like whether people with warrants can get on an airplane to fly somewhere in the interim.
Most warrants will not preclude you from getting on a plane, at least for a domestic flight. However, flying out of Philadelphia Airport with a warrant or multiple warrants is likely to be a very bad idea. There is a chance that you could get arrested before you board or when you arrive at your destination. Additionally, getting on a plane may look like you are trying to escape consequences, which can be very detrimental to the success of your case.
If you need help with a warrant or other legal matters, call our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers from The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Are You Allowed to Get on a Plane When You Have Warrants?
Generally, airport staff and security are not checking to see specifically if you have a warrant for your arrest. Airport security personnel like the TSA or Air Marshalls are concerned with people who are potential risks on an airplane. In the vast majority of cases, this will not mean people with arrest warrants. However, if your warrant is for something that would make you a risk to airport security, security personnel could step in. Nonetheless, a warrant in and of itself will not outright prohibit you from getting onto a plane.
With all that being said, our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers do not recommend trying to get on a plane when you have a warrant in most circumstances.
What Can Happen if You Get on a Plane When You Have a Warrant?
Although you are not prohibited by law from getting on a plane when there is a warrant for your arrest, there are other potential consequences that could result from doing so that can seriously affect your life. None of these potential consequences bode well for a successful outcome of an upcoming criminal case.
Arrest, Extradition, Flight Risk
The most obvious potential consequence of getting on a plane when there is a warrant for your arrest is, well, getting arrested. Although TSA and airport security are not required to check if you have an arrest warrant, sometimes they do check, and there is no way to predict whether an airport will examine your background or not. You always run the risk of getting arrested when you interact with law enforcement when you have an active arrest warrant.
You could also get extradited at your destination if there is a warrant for your arrest. This means if you fly to a state other than the one that issued your warrant, they may send you back to the issuing state, where you may be placed in jail until the criminal matter is resolved.
Another potential consequence of getting on a plane when you have warrants is that you could be labeled a “flight risk.” In the context of criminal proceedings, a “flight risk” is someone who is likely to try and avoid the legal process and run away from potential consequences.
Damage to Your Court Case
Even if you are able to get on a plane to fly somewhere domestically without issue, it can still be very bad in the event of a later criminal trial. Getting on a plane while there is a warrant for your arrest can easily be seen as trying to run away from consequences and avoiding the legal process. Prosecutors can, and will, point this out to the jury if a case goes to trial, and it can make your situation worse than it otherwise would be.
Ruined Travel Plans
This may seem like a more trivial consequence than the others, but it is a consequence nonetheless. Scheduling travel plans is a time-consuming and expensive process. All of that planning and expense can immediately be upended if you do not take into account the prospect of getting arrested at the airport when you have warrants.
Having a Warrant on International vs. Domestic Flight
A warrant may have a slightly different effect if you are taking an international or a domestic flight. If you have a warrant and take an international flight, the consequences are likely to be much more dire than if you are taking a domestic flight.
When you land after returning from an international flight, you will have to go through customs or a similar security entity, which will check to see if there are any outstanding warrants for your arrest. If you return to the U.S. on an international flight, you risk getting arrested upon arrival if you have a warrant.
For domestic flights, there is less direct scrutiny on whether you have a warrant or not. However, that does not mean that you are in the clear to fly where you want. Airports generally have a large police presence, so if you interact with the police in any way, they can see that you have a warrant, and you will very likely get arrested.
Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Right Away
If you or a loved one are dealing with an arrest warrant, call our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers from The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free, confidential case review.