Ask the Attorney: What Happens After an Arrest Warrant Is Issued?

An arrest warrant, also known as a warrant for arrest, is an order issued by a court that directs law enforcement officers to take a person into custody. It is issued when there is probable cause to believe the person committed a crime. Courts may also issue an order for arrest for reasons outlined in North Carolina Gen. Statute §15A-305. In this post, our North Carolina criminal defense lawyers explain what happens when the court issues an arrest warrant, including what you should do if you are arrested.

When Will a Person Be Picked Up on a Pending Arrest Warrant Issued in North Carolina?

The time it takes for the police to locate and arrest someone after an arrest warrant is issued depends on numerous factors. State law does not provide a timeline for how quickly law enforcement must pick someone up unless a judge includes a deadline in the order.

Generally, police officers prioritize arrest warrants based on the seriousness of the crime. More serious offenders will often move to the front of the list. The chance a dangerous person could commit another dangerous crime or flee the area means police officers need to work quickly to place them into custody.

Factors that may influence how quickly law enforcement moves to detain a person after an arrest warrant is issued include:

  • The suspect’s location
  • The nature and severity of the offense
  • Resources available to the police officers
  • Special circumstances

People can turn themselves in if they find out about an arrest warrant instead of waiting for the police to pick them up. Working with a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer to arrange a voluntary surrender could be beneficial if your attorney is able to negotiate special terms for your surrender.

A general rule of thumb is that police officers place more priority on high-profit, serious crimes when executing arrest warrants. It could take several weeks or months to be arrested for a misdemeanor or non-violent crime unless you are stopped for another reason. However, never assume you will not be arrested quickly. Many things could result in your arrest within a day or two after the court issues a warrant for your arrest.

Am I Notified of an Arrest Warrant Before the Police Officers Show Up to Arrest Me?

If you don’t have an attorney yet, you won’t likely know about the arrest warrant until the police arrive to arrest you. You might suspect an arrest warrant is outstanding if you were summoned to appear in court and failed to do so. Judges enter an arrest warrant when someone ignores a summons to appear in court.

What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

Contact a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer immediately. An attorney will check to see if you have a pending arrest warrant. If so, you and your lawyer can discuss ways to address the arrest warrant proactively instead of waiting for the police to make an arrest.

You might want to surrender to avoid being arrested at home, at your job, or in another public place. Surrendering could have other benefits, including beginning the process of resolving the criminal charges against you.

If the police arrest you, do not talk to the police without an attorney present. What you say could be used to strengthen the state’s case against you.

Schedule a Consultation With Our North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you are arrested or under investigation, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and fight for a just outcome. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, P.A. to schedule a confidential consultation with a North Carolina criminal defense attorney.