Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

“I HAVE AN OLD DEFAULT WARRANT IN MASSACHUSETTS. WHAT DO I DO IF I AM OUT OF STATE OR OUT OF THE COUNTRY?”

 

There are still folks out there who believe that if they ignore the fact that they never returned to court when they were supposed to, the Commonwealth will kindly do the same.

These people are wrong..

When you did not go to court, a default warrant, a warrant for your arrest, went into the system. Regardless of how aggressive law enforcement looked for you, there it remained.

There is no agency or department that, periodically, reviews old outstanding default warrants to determine whether they want to bother keeping the arrest warrant active.

It’s really no bother and they assume the will get you sooner or later.

And they probably will.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Sting Of The Outstanding Default Warrant

These days, almost all state and federal agencies are connected through computers, the internet and the like. Thus, when a warrant hits the system, the information is available to all other agencies.

Further, especially with the recent concerns about terrorism, those records are watched very carefully whenever possible.

There are a number of instances in which the warrant can be discovered. They include trying to renew your driver’s license, being stopped for a driving or any other infraction, trying to take an air flight, or receiving state funds. To name a few.

Remember, the warrant is for your arrest. When it comes up in the system, you will not only not be able to do what you were trying to do (renew your license, passport, etc.), but you may well be taken into custody and brought to the court which issued the warrant, all the while in custody.

Showing up in cuffs is not a good way to appear in court…especially when coming back to clear up the warrant.

“Oh my God! I did not realize! I think I might have a warrant. What do I do?

Well, simply put, you have got to clear up that warrant!

“I thought they would have dismissed the case by now. It was a piece of garbage.”

Garbage or not, the case was put on “hold” when you did not show up. Therefore, nobody knows how viable the case is at this point. All the criminal justice participants know is that there is a pending case against you for which there is currently a warrant for your arrest.

We have handled a number of these types of situations. I find it is possible to ease your return to court. Most importantly, to do it without you having to appear in cuffs. Granted, the court will have to determine whether to hold you or order higher bail, but the fact that you are taking the situation seriously, retained the services of a lawyer and have come in on your own will do a lot to help when appearing in court.

What I normally do is reach out to the Commonwealth and the Court and try to schedule a date so that everyone knows you are coming in. This gives the Commonwealth a chance to see if they even have a viable case at this point. It also takes the wind out of their sails should they request high bail.

Without setting this up, what often happens is that the defendant suddenly shows up in court. Nobody knows anything about him or his case except that there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest. It can take hours to days for everyone to get up to date. During that time, you could be held, waiting for everyone to get up to speed.

“But what if I am out of state?”

The process is generally the same, but is a bit more complicated. Chances are that you are on borrowed time if the warrant has not yet come up against you. It will. Once it does, and the state in which you are holds you, Massachusetts can extradite, or transport, you back to the Commonwealth. They have a certain amount of time to do so. During that time, you are usually in custody.

Sometimes, we can resolve the warrant without you showing up or, certainly, without you going in to custody.

“What if I am out of the country?”

Well, if the case is serious enough, they can reach out to extradite you from most places. An additional issue is whether you ever want to come back to the states or fly anywhere. Should you not clear up your warrant, then you are at risk next time you fly (particularly to the U.S.) to be taken into federal custody and brought back to the court which issued the warrant.

The process is still the same, although there are more complications. If we are working with you, we would try to make sure that, as you are flying back to clear up the warrant, have the authorities lift that warrant so you can fly back without beige taken into federal custody.

Again, we can also try to resolve the matter without your being present, although it is difficult to do in many cases.

“What if I am off planet?”

Then the entire process is going to take a lot longer.

Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if off the planet?

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