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/

The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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