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Arrest Warrants: Do They Ever Expire or Go Away?

Updated on December 20, 2010
Police officers have access to a national database that contains records of wanted persons and active arrest warrants.
Police officers have access to a national database that contains records of wanted persons and active arrest warrants. | Source

Does an Arrest Warrant Ever Expire?

No. That's the short answer anyway. There's no statute of limitations for arrest warrants. They don't automatically expire after a certain period of time. Sometimes, a record of an arrest warrant may disappear, but this isn't very common and it's not because the warrant expired.

Records of arrest warrants are kept in an index of criminal justice information called the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC is a computerized data base that is accessible to federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. (link below)

A state or jurisdiction might not renew a misdemeanor arrest warrant after a certain amount of time has passed. However, the vast majority of jurisdictions do. Aside from asking a police officer, one way to find out whether you still have an active arrest warrant is to run your name through one of the various online databases. Generally, a fee is required and I can't speak to how accurate the information is or how often these databases are updated, although many claim to be up-to-date.

If it's making you feel as though you're living life constantly looking over your shoulder, well, I'm not going to say, "Why don't you take care of it?" What I will say is that you probably shouldn't think that it's just going to *poof* go away. Because, generally speaking, it won't.

Now, just don't be mad at me, I'm only the messenger. :-)


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    • munirahmadmughal profile image

      munirahmadmughal 7 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      "Do Arrest Warrant Ever Expire".

      The author of hub has provided awareness in a graceful manner about a subject purely of criminal law with a flavour of legal literature.

      The effort is commendable.

      Each stae has its own law on the subject. In islamic Republic of Pakistan the law on the subject is available in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, Section 75 and 76.This is the general law. Special enacrtments may have special procedure. In the cases falling under special enactments the special enactment shall be applicable. Where no special procedure is given there, this general law shall apply.

      A warrant is an order addressed to a person, ususally a police officer, tod o any particular act such as the apprehension and production of an an ofender or the search for a thing. A warrant is to be issued by a Court competent having territorial jurisdiction assigning reason. issuing of warrant without assigning any reason is bad in law.[1998 P. Cr. L. J. 520].

      A court may and should issue a summons if appearance can be secured by it and there are no special circumstances for resort to a warrant under section 204-205 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. An arrest being a deprivation of personal liberty canbe issued only on good and legal grounds [13 WR 27].

      A valid warrant must be :

      (i)in writing;

      (ii) sufficiently identifying the peron to whom issued i.e. must give full name and description of the person to be arrested providing his parentage, occupation and residentce etc.;

      (iii) must specify the offence charged;

      (iv) must be signed i.e. amnual signing and not by stamping;

      (v) must be sealed; and

      (vi) must bear the name and designation of the person.

      The Code of Criminal Procedure has prescribed form pf warrant in Schedule V form No. 2. A strict adherence to the form of the warrant of arrest is desirable.

      A general warrant apprehending arrest of more than one peron is not authorized by the Code and is illegal [1872]9 Bom. HCR 154.

      in case ofa special warrant the only person who can execute it is the officer named in the warrant [AIR 1929 Bom 157].

      A blank warrant or a warrant not addressed to any officer or person is invalid.

      A conditional warrant is invalid [(1894) 18 Bom 936].

      Proceedings in pursuance of anillegal warrant, or a warrant issued without consideration are void [(1907) 6 Criminal law Journal 38].

      According to sub-section(2) of section 75 of the Code of Crimial Procedure, 1898, Every such warrant shall remain in force until it is cancelled by the Court which issued it, or until it is executed.

      A warrant is a public document and it can be proved by the production of a certified copy of the same.[AIR 1968 Guj 100].