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Arrest Warrant

This brief article describes what an arrest warrant is and how and why it is issued.  An arrest warrant is issued by a judge or magistrate and grants police the power to arrest and detain a person so they can be brought before a court. 

Reasons for Issuing an Arrest Warrant

Arrest warrants are governed by the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 and the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.   There are several reasons, including when a person has:

  • Failed to attend court as required by law;
  • Been charged with an offence but cannot be located;
  • Been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment but cannot be located;
  • Breached a bail condition or an apprehended violence order (AVO);
  • Breached the conditions of a community correction order or intensive correction order;
  • Breached a condition of parole.

The most common reason for issuing an arrest warrant is failure to appear in court. These warrants are issued by a judicial officer, that is a magistrate, judge or registrar, when a defendant fails to appear at any stage during a court proceeding and has not been formally excused.

An arrest warrant will only be ordered if the magistrate, judge or registrar is satisfied that it is necessary to have the person attend court, and that other avenues, such as taking steps to locate the person, have been exhausted. 

Process Of Obtaining An Arrest Warrant

For a warrant to be issued, a police officer will apply to the court with a document that outlines the basis for the application. The judicial officer will then independently decided whether or not an arrest warrant is required based on the criteria outlined in the legislation. At any stage after an arrest warrant is issued, it may be revoked by the judge, magistrate or registrar if it is deemed appropriate to do so.

Can I Check if I have an Arrest Warrant?

There is no public database available to search for outstanding arrest warrants in New South Wales.  If you believe that a warrant may have been issued for your arrest, your lawyer can make enquiries with the court or police. A police officer is able to check for outstanding arrest warrants.

Should I Turn Myself In?

If you have an arrest warrant you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately and obtain legal advice prior to speaking to police.  The experienced criminal team at Brander Smith McKnight Lawyers will advise you of your rights and obligations, represent you in a police interview and prepare your bail application.    

In some circumstances, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with police that it is in the interests of justice to return the warrant ‘unexecuted’. In other words, you would not be placed under arrest or held in custody. Police may also grant bail at the police station. 

In most situations, police will execute the warrant and once you are located, you will be refused bail.  You will then require a bail application to be made. It is possible for an individual to do this, but not advisable.  It is in your best interests to have an experienced criminal lawyer make submissions to the court on your behalf.  You are more likely to be released from custody if a lawyer prepares and presents the application.

Is There Any Way To Avoid An Arrest Warrant?

There is no way to avoid a warrant that has been issued for your arrest. Section 24 of the Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth) allows for police to commence proceedings against an individual in any part of Australia.  This means, that if an arrest warrant is issued in NSW, police can arrest you in Queensland and have you brought back before the court in NSW. 

Additionally, Australia is involved in a number of extradition treaties which allows for an individual to be arrested overseas and deported back to Australia. There are several countries that Australia has a bilateral extradition treaty with. A full list of countries can be found on the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. 

How Can BSM Help?

If there is a warrant out for your arrest, it is important that you seek legal advice and representation. The highly experienced and responsive criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight will advise you of your rights and obligations, represent you in a police interview and prepare and persuasively present your bail application.

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