The Warrant Process

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The Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office is beginning a serious, long-term effort to educate and inform the public about outstanding warrants and the warrant service process. This information can be critical to helping citizens know they might have a warrant for something as simple as not appearing in court for a traffic case or criminal summons. Ignoring a warrant, not being aware of a warrant, or avoiding warrant service can often be more troublesome than the original charge that caused the issuance of a warrant. Aside from failing to appear in court, citizens can be issued warrants for not completing court-ordered programs, failing to pay fines, or violating the terms and conditions of release from a county jail or state prison. Here are some simple scenarios and suggestions that might help demystify the warrant process.

How Do You Know If You Have A Warrant?

Most citizens who have a warrant usually have received ample notice from the courts and law enforcement that a warrant exists. However, there are cases when someone is not aware that they have a warrant against them. Many people believe they can check for warrants through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website. You might find the existence of a warrant on the site, but not in all cases. Soon, the sheriff’s office will begin publishing links to outstanding warrant lists that will be comprehensive and updated weekly. If your name appears in case search or on the sheriff’s list, contact the sheriff’s office to speak to a deputy and arrange service of the warrant. Additionally, the sheriff’s office has a new show called “On the Lookout with Sheriff Jim Fredericks” on the county cable network. The show highlights 60 wanted people per month and airs daily on Anne Arundel County government channels at 10:00am and 7:00pm.

Recall Of Misdemeanor Warrants

More than half of over 12,000 outstanding warrants in the county are for minor criminal violations and for failing to appear for traffic court cases. Willfully failing to be responsible for committing a crime or serious traffic infraction usually leads to more significant penalties through the court system. If there is a legitimate, understandable reason for someone missing a court case, there is a process to have warrants recalled by the courts. Most misdemeanor cases are heard at the district court level, and the process to recall those warrants is relatively easy. A person merely needs to go to the district court in Annapolis or Glen Burnie, proceed to the clerk’s office and complete a request for warrant recall for a judge to review. Upon review, a judge may approve the motion, deny it, or request a brief hearing with the wanted person to get more information about the case, or advise the wanted person about legal counsel. The sheriff’s office strongly urges persons with a warrant to use this process. The alternative, a sheriff’s deputy tracking you down for service, can cause significant additional problems for someone with a warrant.

What If A Deputy Serves A Warrant?

Sheriff’s deputies often serve warrants where people are most likely to be found, such as at home, their place of employment, at the home of friends or relatives, or during a traffic stop. Each of these scenarios can be costly to a criminal defendant. Service of a warrant at someone’s home can often unnecessarily expose children and loved ones to the arrest process. Deputies often find conditions in homes that lead to further investigation by law enforcement, or intervention by county agencies like Animal Control, the Department of Health or Child Protective Services. Unexpected service at a place of employment can lead to lost wages and loss of a job for a defendant. Service of a warrant during a traffic stop will result in a public arrest and likely the towing of a vehicle. Vehicles towed by law enforcement can amount to significant costs to a defendant to have his or her vehicle released from impound.

If you belong to an organization or community association, take this information to your next meeting and let others know about the warrant process. If you want the sheriff or a representative to talk about warrants and reduction efforts at your next meeting, email the office at shwebmail@aacounty.org. If you know someone who has a warrant, pass along this important information so he or she can get the warrant served. If you want to leave anonymous information about a wanted person, contact the sheriff’s office warrant tip line at 410-566-5688 or 410-LOOKOUT. So far this year, sheriff’s office warrant teams have served more than 900 warrants for the district and circuit courts.

The most important part of the warrant process is to bring justice to victims of crime, victims of poor driving, and businesses victimized by crime. Ignoring or avoiding warrant service often leads to further costs for victims, law enforcement, and prosecutors. If you think you might have a warrant, take a few minutes and find out. If you know you have a warrant, be responsible, have it served, and have your day in court. Call the sheriff’s office at 410-222-1570 and speak to a deputy to arrange for warrant service. Let’s be responsible to one another to make our communities safer and enhance our quality of life.

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