One of the most common questions I receive regarding misdemeanor bench warrants and felony warrants (alias capias) is how long do they last? Do they become stale and eventually just go away?
The answer is no. Warrants will remain active until they are satisfied. That is, until the defendant is taken into custody or the court sets aside the warrant.
For most misdemeanor bench warrants, you can retain the services of a criminal attorney who may be able to set the warrant aside without you having to be present. This is most common in cases where you missed your arraignment (first court appearance). If you failed to appear for court on the day of trial, you will likely have to attend court with your attorney.
Felony warrants may require your physical presence in court due to the more serious nature of the charges. However, if you failed to appear for court in a felony matter, you should not walk into court alone. Go with an experienced attorney who may be able to get the warrant set aside so that you are not taken into custody.
You cannot ignore a warrant. Maybe it will never come back to haunt you, maybe it will. If you live out of state, the warrant may be a non-extradition warrant, which means that the authorities will not come and drag you back to Florida. However, the outstanding warrant may prevent you from being able to get a job, obtain a bank loan, obtain government benefits, or lease an apartment.
If you have an active warrant in Miami or Broward, call me.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal attorney and Broward criminal attorney who represents clients dealing facing outstanding bench warrants and alias capias warrants.