Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyer - Skinner Law FirmIf you have a warrant pending for a criminal charge in another state, Pennsylvania will execute the warrant on that state’s behalf. Once local authorities verify that they have identified the right person, there really is no simple way to just take care of the warrant and the criminal charge it represents. Instead, the arresting agency’s primary duty is to turn you over to the authorities who first authorized your arrest. If the warrant-issuing state doesn’t drop the pending criminal charges, you must return to that state to resolve them.

Local law enforcement authorities handle criminal prosecutions triggered by an out-of-state warrant just as they would an in-state case. They may arrest and detain you, and schedule an arraignment in a local court. The charges against you will be explained in court, and you may then be able to determine how to move forward.

The local courts process you into the criminal justice system, but they will not prosecute you unless you have also committed crimes in Pennsylvania. The local authorities will keep you in custody or under court supervision until the other state completes the extradition process.

You Have the Right to Have an Attorney Represent You

When you are arrested on an out-of-state warrant, your presence in the Pennsylvania justice system is considered temporary. However, it is still a criminal proceeding, and it has the potential to derail your life. For that reason, you have a right to legal representation, and you should speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner began his practice in criminal law while working as an Assistant District Attorney in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Mike understands the system, and his experience as a prosecutor means he has criminal defense knowledge that his clients need. He is available to review your out-of-state warrant case, and he may be able to help ensure you get the best possible outcome.

What Happens When You’re Arrested on an Out-of-State Warrant?

When a Pennsylvania officer makes an arrest based on an out-of-state warrant, they will have done so on the belief that the warrant is valid. The arresting authority will handle your case just as they would any other criminal arrest. The court will schedule an arraignment, and the charges against you will be filed based on available information.

After you have been processed into the local criminal system, the authorities will follow the extradition guidelines outlined in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:

  • After the initial hearing and charges, the extradition process will proceed.
  • The authorities may hold you in a county jail pending transmission of an indictment and/or documentation of your crime.
  • If your alleged crime is minor, the state that issued the warrant may decide that extradition is too costly and choose not to prosecute you.
  • If the state sends proper documentation, the governor will issue a “Governor’s Warrant.”
  • The state that requested the arrest then has 30 days to transport you back to their jurisdiction.
  • If you have additional crimes pending in Pennsylvania, the local court may choose to either prosecute or extradite you.
  • The extradition process may be complicated, and is subject to continuances and delays.

What Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Dealing with an out-of-state warrant may seem like a mere formality, but it can have long-term consequences. If the state that issued the warrant has not yet tried your case, the extradition may be just the beginning of a lengthy process. Your defense attorney can explain your options, and will work to manage your extradition. Additionally, they may also:

  • Dispute the charges and fight the extradition;
  • Defend you against additional local charges;
  • Push for a release from jail early in the extradition process;
  • Argue for reduced bail;
  • Help you decide if an extradition waiver is your best option; and/or
  • Help you resolve unpaid court fines or child support payments.

Will You Qualify for Release on Bail?

While you are awaiting extradition pursuant to an out-of-state warrant, you may be entitled to release on bail. If the warrant describes a crime that may not be penalized by the death penalty or a life sentence the court may authorize bail, but usually with the provision that it is backed by an appropriate surety bond.

What Happens When You Waive Extradition?

The unpredictable extradition process may can take months to complete. You have the option of speeding up the process by waiving your extradition rights. A waiver does not require you to admit fault; it is simply an agreement to return to the issuing state voluntarily so that you minimize your waiting time.

An extradition waiver may be the right option for you if the court won’t release you on bail, or you are unable to pay the bail amount. Instead of waiting in a local jail while the court and the warrant-issuing state work out your extradition, you can take some control in moving the process forward.

Why Would Another State Issue a Warrant for Your Arrest?

States may issue a warrant in connection with new, pending, or previously adjudicated criminal cases. They may deem the warrant necessary to locate you for prosecution or case disposition. It might also be a response to your failure to comply with court-ordered actions, such as:

  • Failure to meet the terms of a parole or probation;
  • Failure to appear for a criminal proceeding;
  • Escape from confinement;
  • Arrest for a new crime; and/or
  • Failure to pay court fines, fees, or child support.

What Gives Pennsylvania the Authority to Make an Arrest on an Out-Of-State Warrant?

Pennsylvania has the authority and duty to act on an out-of-state warrant under state and federal law. A Pennsylvaniastatute, also known as the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act as it complies with the national standard, establishes the state’s duties and responsibilities to arrest and detain a person subject to extradition. The United States Constitution outlines the duty to extradite under Article IV, Section 2, while Federal criminal codes also contain provisions that require states to comply with extradition proceedings.

Criminal Defense Attorney in West Chester Pennsylvania

If you have an out-of-state warrant, speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Chester County assistant district attorney, Michael J. Skinner knows Pennsylvania criminal law and understands the justice system. Contact Skinner Law Firm today at (610) 436-1410 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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