Some people have lived in Kentucky their entire lives. However, many people moved to Kentucky from another state. What happens if you had a criminal case in another state that was never resolved?

What happens if you visit another state and commit a crime? You are charged with the crime, but you come back home to Kentucky without resolving the charges or appearing at your court hearing. 

Can you be arrested in Kentucky for a crime you committed in another state? Yes, you can be arrested in Kentucky on an out-of-state warrant for arrest. If you are arrested on an out-of-state arrest warrant, the sooner you seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the better.

What is a Warrant for Arrest?

An arrest warrant is a legal court document that gives police officers the authority to detain and incarcerate you. It generally has your name and information about the charges against you 

There are two types of arrest warrants that could be pending against you. 

An arrest warrant may be issued after a police officer files a complaint with the court. The officer explains the evidence he has that you may have committed a crime. The court reviews the complaint and issues the arrest warrant if the judge finds probable cause that you committed the crime. 

A bench warrant is issued by a judge because you failed to comply with a court order or appear for a court hearing. A bench warrant also directs a police officer to detain and incarcerate you. You could also face contempt charges for failing to obey a court order or appear in court.

Does a Warrant for Arrest Expire?

An arrest warrant does not expire. It must be resolved by your arrest or by a judge dismissing the warrant. You can also surrender yourself to law enforcement officials to resolve the arrest warrant. 

Can Police in Kentucky Access an Arrest Warrant From Another State?

When an arrest warrant is issued, the warrant is entered into a searchable database. Law enforcement officers throughout the country have access to the database. 

Therefore, if you have an outstanding warrant in another state for drug charges, you could be arrested in Kentucky on that warrant. In many cases, people are arrested on an out-of-state warrant when officers detain them for another reason. 

For example, if a police officer stops you for suspected DUI, the officer will run your name through the database. He sees that you have an outstanding warrant for sex crimes in another state, so he arrests you for both charges. 

A police officer could discover an out-of-state warrant for arrest if he runs your license plate for a broken taillight before pulling you over. Some people have been arrested just because they happened to go to the police station for another matter, and the officer ran their name through the database.

What Happens After I Am Arrested on an Out-of-State Arrest Warrant?

The actions taken after your arrest depend on the criminal charges against you. In some cases, you might be able to resolve the charges without leaving Kentucky. For example, if the charges relate to a minor misdemeanor that does not result in jail time, you might be able to pay the fine and avoid returning to the state that issued the arrest warrant.

However, if your charges involve a serious felony or violent crime, such as homicide, felony DUI, or sex crimes, you will probably be returned (extradited) to the state in which the crime was committed to face the charges.

Can I Find Out if I Have a Warrant for Arrest Against Me?

There are several ways that you can find out if there is a Kentucky arrest warrant or an out-of-state warrant for your arrest. You could contact the local police station to inquire about arrest warrants. Keep in mind that you could be questioned, and the police may locate you to execute the arrest warrant.

You could also use one of the many online services that claim to search for outstanding arrest warrants. However, some of those services are scams. Many of the other services do not guarantee that the results are reliable or accurate.

Some counties have online databases that list outstanding warrants. You may also check with a bail bond agent to see what they charge for a warrant search.

How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help with an Out-of-State Warrant?

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer may be the best and safest way to determine if you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Anything you discuss with your attorney is confidential, so you do not need to worry that the police will find out about your inquiry from the lawyer. Lawyers also have techniques for searching for warrants that are more discreet than your other options for a warrant search.

In addition to searching for a warrant, the lawyer can also help you resolve the warrant if one exists. 

An attorney can work with local law enforcement for you to surrender yourself. By doing so, you might be able to arrange for bail quicker than if you were arrested. Also, turning yourself at the police station may be preferable to having the police show up at your home or work to arrest you.

After your arrest, your criminal attorney works to resolve the charges against you. You could have one or more legal defenses that might result in the charges being dropped. If you decide to plead guilty, your lawyer can work with the prosecutor in the other state to possibly arrange for you to serve your sentence in Kentucky instead of going back to the other state.

What is the Bottom Line About Out-of-State Warrants for Arrest?

An arrest warrant is a serious matter. You do not want to ignore the warrant in hopes that it will go way in time. It will never go away.

It is better to face the criminal charges now instead of waiting. Waiting could make the matter worse. Working with a lawyer to resolve the charges means you can put the matter behind you and not worry that the police could show up at any moment to arrest you.