What You Should Do if There’s a Warrant for Your Arrest

What You Should Do if There’s a Warrant for Your Arrest

A statute of limitations applies to crimes. Once the SOL expires, which is normally two years for a misdemeanor and five years for a felony, prosecutors cannot press charges. But arrest warrants have no statute of limitations.[1] Once authorities issue them, they are good forever. It’s quite common for police officers to pull you over for a minor traffic violation, find that there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, usually one which you had forgotten about, and then arrest you. It doesn’t matter if the warrant is several years old, or even several decades old.

So, arrest warrants never go away. But a Rochester criminal defense lawyer can clear these warrants and place the matter on the trial docket. A full array of defenses is available. Since the case is probably several years old, prosecutors often face major proof problems. Therefore, most Rochester criminal defense lawyers can resolve these charges successfully.

Finding Out if You Have a Warrant for Your Arrest

In most cases, you only need to worry about a local arrest warrant or one from a contiguous county. As mentioned, arrest warrants issued from other counties are still valid. However, police officers in Monroe County rarely enforce foreign warrants. It costs a lot of money to detain a defendant and extradite the defendant to another county. Such efforts are also risky. If something happens during transport, like a car accident, the arresting agency is legally responsible for damages.

Obviously, if the warrant is for murder or something very serious, any police officer would enforce it. But generally, if you live in or near Rochester, you should only worry about an arrest warrant from Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Genesee, or Orleans County.

For criminal offenses, consult the sheriff’s website. There’s usually an outstanding warrant link or a place to enter your name, date of birth, etc. For infractions, consult the city’s website. Additionally, many cities hire lawyers to collect unpaid fines.

The Surrender Process

A Rochester criminal defense lawyer usually needs only to file paperwork to clear a municipal warrant. Lawyers may clear warrants for their active clients.

Criminal warrants are a bit more complex. Typically, defendants must book in and book out at the county jail. The middle of the day in the middle of the week is a good time for such surrenders. A Rochester criminal defense lawyer ensures that bail paperwork is ready to go, and all other ducks are in a row. The entire process usually takes about four or five hours, but it could be much faster or much slower.

Defending Old Cases in Court

Typically, if the arresting officer has left the force, prosecutors dismiss the charges. Such matters are too expensive and time-consuming to pursue. Once again, if the warrant for your arrest is a serious felony, prosecutors are normally much more diligent.

If the arresting officer is still with the force, prosecutors normally pursue the case. But it’s not easy to obtain a conviction in an old case.

Witness recollection is a good example. The law allows witnesses, including police officers, to review the police report to refresh their memories. But they must have some independent recollection. If a witness cannot recall a detail that is not in the police report, such as the weather on that day, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer might be able to exclude that witness’s testimony.

Rely on an Experienced Attorney

If there is a warrant for your arrest, it never goes away on its own. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.


[1] https://thelawdictionary.org/article/statute-limitations-arrest-warrants/

Should I Hire a DWI Attorney if I’m Under 21?

Should I Hire a DWI Attorney if I’m Under 21?

Many minors do not think they need an attorney for a zero-tolerance DWI. It’s rather easy to see why. This infraction is not technically a criminal offense in New York.[1] Furthermore, the possible penalties, which mostly include license suspension and a fine, are relatively light. But the penalties for driving with a suspended license are potentially severe. Moreover, many Monroe County judges believe these defendants are scofflaws, and they throw the book at them. And, although a limited license is available, the DMV doesn’t simply give them away.

So, if you were charged with a zero-tolerance DWI, you should definitely hire a DWI Attorney, even if you are under 21. Although a zero-tolerance DWI isn’t technically a criminal matter, it has basically the same elements as a standard DWI. Therefore, if the evidence is weak, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer might be able to get the case thrown out of court. If nothing else, evidentiary weaknesses which attorneys identify make it easier to obtain a limited license.

Hire a DWI Attorney for Zero-Tolerance Infractions

The state could fine you and take away your drivers’ license if you’re under 21, you refuse to provide a chemical sample, or your BAC was between .02 and .08. So, despite the “zero tolerance” moniker, these offenses aren’t exactly zero tolerance. The .02 threshold means that defendants who gargle with mouthwash, have wine at communion, or celebrate with a sip of champagne are probably okay.

The possible penalties for this infraction (not crime) are:

  • $125 civil penalty (not a fine), and
  • Six-month drivers’ license suspension.

The distinction between infractions and crimes is a subtle one, but an important one. Generally, employers, universities, and other people with inquiring minds ask about criminal convictions. Even if you pay the maximum penalty and sit out the maximum suspension period, you have not been convicted of a crime.

Speaking of drivers’ license suspension, if this is your first offense, a Rochester criminal defense lawyer can help you obtain a conditional license that allows you to drive to and from work, to and from school, and in a few other limited circumstances. You must complete the Impaired Driver Program, f/k/a the Drinking Driver Program.

An illegal stop and lack of probable cause for a chemical sample request are the two biggest defenses in these cases. Officers must have reasonable suspicion to detain motorists. They cannot detain a motorist on a hunch or because s/he “doesn’t look right.” Poor performance on the field sobriety tests, such as the walk and turn, usually satisfies the probable cause requirement. Some drivers refuse to perform these tests, which is their right under the Fifth Amendment.

Underage DWIs

As for the penalties, they are the same for underage and over-21 DWIs, except the possible license suspension period is one year instead of 90 days. Furthermore, minors are usually ineligible for a conditional license.

DWI is a criminal offense. So, it’s more serious and also easier to defend. Intoxication, or lack thereof, isn’t really relevant in a zero-tolerance DWI. But it’s highly relevant in a standard DWI. Chemical tests, especially Breathalyzer tests, are often inaccurate. Additionally, the Field Sobriety Tests are not always reliable indicators of intoxication. The aforementioned walk and turn (walking a straight line) is a good example. It’s almost impossible for anyone with any mobility impairment whatsoever, including a sore ankle or a hangnail, to complete this test, whether the person is drunk or sober.

Hire a DWI Attorney in Rochester

A zero-tolerance DWI is not a criminal offense, but it could mean a world of trouble. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.


[1] https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/penalties-alcohol-or-drug-related-violations