A warrant grants the authorities the power to search and seize. Some warrants allow the police to take people into custody. Other warrants allow the police to search private property and take personal belongings. When a warrant is issued, it might come with an expiration date. Some warrants have no expiration date and may last indefinitely.
How long a warrant stays active in Utah depends on what kind of warrant you are dealing with. Bench warrants may last forever and remain active until the police have arrested the person on the warrant. Search warrants may come with a specific date and time by which they must be executed.
While warrants grant the police a lot of power, they are not without imitations. If you were arrested or searched under an expired warrant, our Utah criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge your arrest. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation.
How Long Are Warrants Active in Utah?
How long a warrant remains active after it is issued depends on the nature of the warrant. A warrant may be issued to search your private property for evidence or arrest you. Bench warrants are also issued for your arrest but come directly from judges, often for missing court dates. Our St. George criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge the warrant in your case.
Arrest warrants typically do not have an expiration date. Once the arrest warrant is issued, the police may arrest the person subject to the warrant at any time. If the police go through the trouble of getting a warrant approved by a judge, they are likely to execute the warrant rather quickly. If the police are unable to apprehend a suspect for whatever reason, the warrant may remain active until the police can track the person down. If an arrest warrant remains open for a long time with no arrests made, a judge could potentially review and recall the warrant at their discretion.
Search warrants are a bit different as they involve the seizure of evidence rather than people. However, search warrants can also authorize police to enter a home to execute an arrest warrant inside. Generally, a search warrant must be served within 10 days of its issuance. A search warrant that is not acted upon within this time will be void. If the police try to execute a search warrant they know is expired, the search may be unlawful.
Bench warrants never expire. These warrants are also issued for a person’s arrest but are different from ordinary arrest warrants. Bench warrants come directly from judges and are often issued when a person fails to appear in court instead of being issued because they committed a crime. Depending on the severity of the underlying case, the police might act on the bench warrant immediately or wait for the person to have another encounter with police, like at a routine traffic stop. Bench warrants have been known to be open for years, in some cases decades, before the person is arrested.
How to Fight Arrest and Search Warrants in Utah
Fighting warrants can feel like an uphill battle. Most often, defendants are unaware of warrants until the arrest or search takes place. This usually means warrants are challenged after the fact rather than proactively. Our Utah criminal defense lawyers are experienced with all kinds of warrants and can help you fight your charges.
Although an arrest warrant does not expire, the arrest itself might be unlawful or the warrant might be invalid. Arrest warrants must be based on sufficient probable cause. While the exact standard of probable cause is a bit elusive, it is more than a mere hunch or suspicion. There must be some articulable evidence of a crime and evidence that the suspect committed the crime. Arrest warrants based on insufficient probable cause may lead to unlawful arrests, and any evidence seized pursuant to that illegal arrest may be suppressed.
A search warrant must be executed within 10 days or the court will declare the warrant void. Much like an arrest warrant, a search warrant must have probable cause to back it up. The warrant must also clearly state the search location to be searched and the evidence being sought. If a search location is not mentioned in the warrant, that part of the search will be unlawful, and the evidence will be suppressed. If a search warrant is past its expiration date, it should not be executed.
Dealing with Bench Warrants in Utah
Bench warrants never expire. In exceptional cases, bench warrants have been known to last for decades. Bench warrants may be issued for very serious cases or for minor offenses like failing to pay a fine. If you believe there is a bench warrant out for your arrest, do not panic. There is a chance the warrant is for a minor offense that our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you clear up.
Since a bench warrant never goes away, you must deal with it at some point. Many people learn of a bench warrant when the police stop them for traffic violations. The officer has the authority to arrest you and bring you into court. However, they do not always do so. If the offense is not serious, the officer might warn you about the warrant and tell you what court you need to go to clear things up.
If you know you have a warrant out for your arrest, we can be proactive and hopefully resolve the problem. For example, we can contact the court and schedule a date for you to come in, and the court might withdraw the bench warrant. Even if the warrant is not withdrawn, it will be cleared when you appear in court and deal with the outstanding legal issues – which our Ogden criminal defense lawyers can also help you with.
Contact Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys
Contact our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys immediately if you have any open warrants in your name. You might not know what charges or penalties you face, and our team can help you figure out what to do next. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.