What Happens If You Get an Out of State Warrant for Arrest?

An outstanding arrest warrant is serious and requires your immediate attention. Even if the warrant was issued by another state, you can be arrested here in Ohio and vice versa.

Warrants never expire, which means that you could be detained and extradited to the state where it was issued at any time. But, keep in mind that you are entitled to have an attorney represent you throughout this process.   

How Is an Out-Of-State Warrant Issued?

Now, an out-of-state warrant may be issued for a variety of reasons. Typically, they are ordered by a judge based on “probable cause” that you did one of the following:

  • Failed to appear in court – either to defend a charge or testify as a witness
  • Failed to attend jury duty
  • Violated the terms of your probation 
  • Committed a crime in the state
  • Failed to pay child support, or
  • Failed to pay court fines.

Bear in mind that once a warrant is issued by a judge, it is entered into local law enforcement systems and national databases. This means that if you are pulled over in another state, authorities will check the database. If the officer finds any outstanding warrants, you may be arrested.

Extradition Following an Out of State Warrant

In the event that you are taken into custody in Ohio for an out-of-state arrest warrant, the state that issued the warrant can pursue what is known as extradition. This is a process where an alleged offender is transferred into the custody of law enforcement in another state. Note that if you committed a crime and flee the authorities, you are referred to as a fugitive.

Now, the process for extradition can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Ohio, the Governor must first make a request for a fugitive to be transferred. Many states require this formality which is done through the issuance of what is known as a “Governor’s Warrant.”   

Keep in mind that extradition could be sought for any crime where there is an outstanding warrant, even if the underlying offense is only a minor misdemeanor. However, due to the time and effort required, in practice, extradition is usually reserved for more serious crimes.

The Extradition Process

That said, if you are arrested based on an out-of-state warrant, keep in mind that you can be held in custody for up to 90 days. This is to allow time for the state where the offense occurred to issue a governor’s warrant. 

Once a governor’s warrant is issued, the demanding state then has 30 days in which to pick you up. During that time, you can be held in County jail or released on bail. Keep in mind that the trial for any underlying charges you are accused of can only be held in the state where the warrant was issued.  

The Extradition Hearing

With that in mind, if you are arrested, you have the option of contesting the extradition demand. This is done by first requesting a hearing. You may also waive the right to a hearing, but note that if the right is waived, the demanding state can pursue your immediate transfer. 

However, it’s important to recognize that waiving your right to contest the extradition does not mean that you are admitting to the underlying offense. You are simply acknowledging that the warrant was proper. 

Remember, the state that issued the warrant need only show that there is some basis for believing you committed the crime. This is a much lower standard than required to prove that you are guilty of the offense.  

Avoiding Extradition

Now, in response to an out-of-state warrant, you always have the option of voluntarily returning to the state that issued it. This will avoid you having to spend time in custody while waiting for the extradition process to complete. 

Again, returning to the state and turning yourself in does not mean that you are admitting to the underlying charge. Once you have returned to the state you will have an opportunity to present your defense, and the prosecutor will need to show that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a very high standard and means that there can be no other logical explanation for the facts other than you committed the crime in question. 

As you can see, criminal matters can become quite complex, requiring a thorough understanding of both legal and law enforcement processes. For that reason, it’s important to have a qualified Columbus criminal lawyer on your side that can help you understand your options and how best to proceed.