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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Warrant Last in California?

An arrest warrant stays active until certain conditions are met. In California, arrest warrants don't expire. This means that they can appear on a person's background check.

Something to keep in mind is that, according to California law, the offenses that led to the arrest warrant are subject to the criminal statute of limitations.

The following article covers how an active arrest warrant affects a person and why hiring a criminal defense attorney is crucial for those who want to navigate their case thoroughly. They can also help explain what a misdemeanor in california is.

What Is a Misdemeanor Warrant?

What Is a Misdemeanor Warrant?

Simply put, it's a court order. It authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest a person suspected of committing a crime.

In California, the person may only get the warrant if there's probable cause that they committed the act. They may also get it if a grand jury issues an indictment. An outstanding warrant can remain active indefinitely until the person is arrested or dies. However, it may also end if the court cancels it or if it's cleared.

What's the Difference Between Arrest and Bench Warrants?

The main difference between arrest and bench warrants is that the latter isn't necessarily linked to a criminal offense. These are issued by a California judge for many reasons, such as a probation violation, missing a mandatory court date, and more.

Another difference is that arrest warrants may be subject to a statute of limitations, whereas bench warrants aren't.

Like a regular arrest, a bench warrant remains outstanding until it's dealt with. Those who have a bench warrant issued in their name shouldn't ignore it if they want to avoid further problems.

Active bench warrants cause many problems for a person. Those who have one may not be able to renew their driver's license, for example. Sometimes, customs authorities can detain people with a warrant as they try to re-enter the country.

Arrest and bench warrants are handled similarly, but they don't have the same "severity" in some cases. However, as long as a person has a warrant, they can get arrested by a law enforcement officer.

Do Arrest Warrants Show Up in a Criminal Record?

An arrest warrant can appear in a background check. Since it's an official judicial record, it's considered public, so it may show up in any relevant search of a person's court documents.

In California, the warrant may appear if the person is conducting an appropriate type of check. Standard background checks, such as those made by landlords or employers, don't tend to reveal outstanding warrants.

People may expect their warrant to appear in thorough checks instead, which are carried out by law enforcement agencies.

It's crucial to talk to Sacramento misdemeanor attorneys to determine whether certain arrest warrants appear in background checks or not. Even if they don't appear, it's recommended to deal with them before it's too late.

About California's Statute of Limitations

As mentioned, an arrest warrant may be subject to a statute of limitations. It requires law enforcement agents to file their cases before a certain period.

In California, these agents have one year to file their claim for a misdemeanor offense. The timeline starts when they discover the act.

Prosecutors must initiate the case by:

  • Filing a criminal complaint, indictment, or criminal information

  • Taking the defendant to an arraignment hearing

  • Issuing the warrant

If the prosecutor doesn't file the claim correctly before the statute expires, the charges will be time-barred. In other words, the defendant's lawyer could try to get the charges dismissed.

It's important to note that acts of embezzling public money aren't subject to a statute of limitations. Furthermore, felony offenses often come with a longer statute of limitations.

Do People Have the Right to a Speedy Trial?

A "speedy trial" is held without much delay. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives defendants the right to get this kind of trial. When law enforcement agents fail to execute their warrant in a reasonable period, the defendant can file a Serna Motion, which can help in getting the case dismissed.

What is a "Serna Motion"? It's a pre-trial motion to dismiss charges. Defendants can file it if they consider they were denied their constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Not filing a warrant in time can impact the evidence of a case, which directly affects the defendant. Most of the time, a delay leads to:

  • Pictures and videos getting deleted/destroyed

  • Witnesses forgetting the events

  • Key parties to the case moving away from the area

  • Essential documents being lost

All of these factors can increase the odds of a wrongful conviction for the defendant.

Once the person files their Serna Motion, a judge will decide whether the delay was justified and if their rights were violated.

What Should People Do If They Get Misdemeanor Warrants?

Those who discover they have an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor must act as soon as possible. Ignoring warrants will only cause more problems for the person.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to avoid serious consequences. However, the key to success in these cases is to hire a professional attorney.

An attorney can negotiate with the court to have the defendant appear voluntarily at a hearing, which is much better than getting arrested. On the other hand, if the person wasn't charged, and the statute of limitations expired, the attorney can make a petition to cancel the warrant.

Of course, not all misdemeanor warrants are avoidable. The best way to evaluate a case and avoid mistakes during certain proceedings is to talk to a legal professional. They can also help answer questions like what is a class a misdemeanor in california?

Bottom Line - Why Seeking Legal Help Is Important

Bottom Line - Why Seeking Legal Help Is Important

Not having an attorney to help can lead to many consequences for a defendant. A lack of experience and knowledge could cause the person to not deal with their warrant in time, which will only hurt their case later.

At Goss Law, there's a group of expert attorneys who are ready to help people defend their rights. Anyone interested in assessing their case with an expert can seek a free consultation with this legal firm today.


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