Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘arrest warrant’

4th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Federal Court may soon hear a case involving a plaintiff bringing suit against a former Secretary of Defense which alleges that the plaintiff was subjected to extra-legal abduction and torture. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Associated Press, AP.org:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be sued personally for damages by a former U.S. military contractor who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq. The lawsuit lays out a dramatic tale of the disappearance of the then-civilian contractor, an Army veteran in his 50s whose identity is being withheld from court filings for fear of retaliation. Attorneys for the man, who speaks five languages and worked as a translator for Marines collecting intelligence in Iraq, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive. The government says he was suspected of helping pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces get into Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law and was risking his life to help his country…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

The issues in the case noted above are likely to cause tension in a political context as matters pertaining to national defense can be the source of strong opinions. That stated, it would appear that the Court sees the case as being meritorious enough to warrant allowance of this personal lawsuit. That stated, until such time as a final ruling on the matter has been handed down all parties are viewed as innocent of any charge until culpability is proven. Hopefully justice will prevail.

Pursuant to the United States Constitution and the notions of due process of law emanating therefrom; individuals, particularly American Citizens, must be accorded certain procedural formalities prior to having their liberties abridged. For example, in order to bring a person under the criminal jurisdiction of an American Court of competent jurisdiction it is generally required, absent exigent circumstances, that a valid arrest warrant be issued. In some cases, US Courts opt to issue a bench warrant whereby a judge issues a warrant directly from the bench. Meanwhile, in situations where an individual has fled a particular jurisdiction there are instances where a fugitive warrant is issued. The procedure for bringing a fugitive from one jurisdiction to another is generally referred to as extradition.

Meanwhile, in matters pertaining to the region of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former King of Cambodia is traveling to Beijing, China. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Straits Times, StraitsTimes.com:

PHNOM PENH – CAMBODIA’S ailing former king Norodom Sihanouk left his country for Beijing on Wednesday to undergo medical tests, officials said. The 88-year-old monarch, who remains a revered figure in Cambodia, was given a red-carpet sendoff by his son King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials at Phnom Penh airport…’He goes back this time to have his health checked to stay healthy and live longer among his people,’ Prince Sisowath Sirirath, second deputy president of the royalist Funcinpec party, told reporters. He said he didn’t know when Sihanouk would next return…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this poignant article in its entirety.

Former King Norodom Sihanouk remains a respected and highly venerated figure in the Kingdom of Cambodia notwithstanding the fact that his son King Norodom Sihamoni has taken up the responsibilities of Kingship. Hopefully, the former King’s upcoming health check up will result in benefits to his health as it is clear that the hopes and prayers of his people are with him.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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28th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new memorandum regarding the revocation of United States Passports by the United States Department of State. In order to better shed light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from the interim USCIS memorandum itself:

DOS has authority to issue and revoke passports. Specifically, 22 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) 211a authorizes the Secretary of State and his or her designee (the U.S. Passport Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs) to grant, issue, and verify passports. Through Executive Order No. 11295, 31 Fed. Reg. 10603, the President designated and empowered the Secretary of State with the authority to designate and prescribe the rules governing the granting, issuing, and verifying of passports.
DOS revokes passports in accordance with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 51.60-62, and 51.65. There are also several statutes under which passports may be revoked and that are incorporated into DOS’s regulations, including: 8 U.S.C. 1504 (the passport was illegally, fraudulently or erroneously obtained); 42 U.S.C. 652(k) (for non-payment of child support); 22 U.S.C. 2714 (for certain drug traffickers); 22 U.S.C. 2671(d)(3) (non-repayment of repatriation loan); and 22 U.S.C. 212a (adds authority to revoke passports of persons convicted of sex tourism). The regulations also require DOS to send written notification of the revocation of a passport to the bearer. See 22 CFR 51.65(a).

Clearly, as can be ascertained from the above citation, the Department of State is authorized to issue and revoke United States Passports. This can be of acute concern to those abroad with an outstanding warrant in the United States as Department of State officials routinely rescind passports upon finding that an American Citizen has a pending criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, or even a warrant in connection to domestic matters such as failure to pay American child support. Once a passport is revoked, an American may be issued a travel letter for the specific purpose of returning to the United States of America. For those unfamiliar with so-called travel letters it may be best to quote directly from the Foreign Affairs Manual:

Posts should issue travel letters only in rare or unusual circumstances described in this Appendix, where it is impossible to issue a passport. These circumstances include: (1) Law enforcement related travel letters in situations other than extradition. Such travel letters must be expressly authorized by CA/PPT/L/LA, which works with the U.S. law enforcement authority on matters related to revocation of the passport of the subject of an outstanding federal warrant. (See 7 FAM 1380 Passport Denial, Revocation, Restriction, Limitation and Surrender.)

Clearly, the Department of State only issues travel letters under rare circumstances, but US Passport revocation and travel letter issuance can occur especially in the context of Federal warrants. That said, the authority reserved to the Department of State regarding passport issuance and revocation would appear not to extend to the Department of Homeland Security‘s USCIS. To quote further from the USCIS memo cited above:

USCIS lacks the authority to revoke or confiscate a U.S. Passport. If reasons to doubt the validity of a passport come to the attention of USCIS, USCIS will not seize the passport, instruct the bearer to return the passport to DOS, or otherwise notify the bearer that there may be issues with the passport…In recent months, USCIS employees have on occasion informed customers that their U.S. Passports were invalid and should be surrendered to DOS. Upon review of certain cases, DOS determined that the passports were, in fact, valid and recognized in accordance with DOS policies and statutes. DOS has requested that USCIS direct any concerns regarding the validity of passports to DOS and not to the bearer of the passport.

It would seem from the quotation above as though the Department of State is in the best position to make a decision regarding the validity of a US Passport as such matters are within that Department’s bailiwick. As noted in the the US visa process, some matters pertaining to travel and immigration are bifurcated between the USCIS and the Department of State. Based upon the above memorandum and the Foreign Affairs Manual it would appear that Passport issues remain almost entirely within the Department of State’s mandate.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant or Federal Warrant.

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12th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a 9th circuit decision in the United States Federal Court System regarding issues associated with the 4th Amendment as well as issues which could impact American agencies such as the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, but sometimes referred to simply as ICE) has been handed down.  To quote directly from a recent article posted on Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

If you can’t let a day go by without accessing your personal data and files, you’d better think twice about crossing the border back into the U.S. with your computer.  That’s because digital devices such as a laptop computer can be seized at the border without a warrant and sent to a secondary site for forensic inspection.

That ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week is the second in less than a year that allows the U.S. government to conduct offsite searches of digital devices seized at the border without a warrant, Network World reported.

This could have big implications for business travelers, in particular, who are increasingly mobile and frequently carry laptops and other digital devices containing sensitive personal and company information across our borders. If your data reveals traces of criminality or illegal kinkiness when examined, your troubles will go way beyond temporary data denial.

This blogger has yet to take a great deal of exception with regard to American policy regarding the 4th Amendment at Ports of Entry in the United States of America as most occurrences that this blogger deals with in connection to such matters involve those who are not American Citizens, or for that matter sometimes not even lawful permanent residents or non-immigrants. Therefore, due to the wide latitude granted to Congress under their plenary authority regarding matters touching upon non-US Citizens and immigration policy it is difficult for this blogger to make cogent hypothetical arguments for people who have few, if any, rights under the American legal system. That said, when it comes to the search and seizure of American Citizens it is clear that Constitutional protections of Americans’ liberties must be taken into zealous consideration. The aforementioned article continued on Yahoo.com:

Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Tallman said, “The border search doctrine is not so rigid as to require the United States to equip every entry point — no matter how desolate or infrequently traveled — with inspectors and sophisticated forensics equipment.”

The administration of this blog highly encourages all readers to click upon the above cited hyperlinks to read more from this thought provoking story.

This blogger does not particularly take exception with the notion of the so-called “border search doctrine” per se, but this blogger has always felt as though little consideration has been accorded to the notion of the rights, privileges, and immunities of both United States Citizenship as well as underlying State Citizenship (if applicable to the individual being legally analyzed as some individuals come by their United States Citizenship either through operation of law or naturalization).

With all due respect to this Court as their decision had to be made pursuant to the unique set of law and facts available under the circumstances, this blogger’s “hackles get raised” anytime the issues associated with the fundamental rights, privileges, and immunities of United States Citizenship are at issue. Therefore, in order to shed more light upon this subject to the readership of this blog this blogger felt it might be enlightening to note some language from the introduction of the dissent in this case as quoted directly from Judge Betty B. Flecther:

I respectfully dissent. The “sticking point” of this case is not whether the Government’s authority “to subject incoming travelers to inspection for entry also permits the Government to transport property not yet cleared for entry away from the border to complete its search.” Maj. Op. at 4219-20. The real issue, as this case is framed by the government and the majority, is whether the Government has authority to seize an individual’s property in order to conduct an exhaustive search that takes days, weeks, or even months, with no reason to suspect that the property contains contraband.[1] In other words, the problem with this case is not that the Government searched Cotterman’s computer in Tucson as opposed to Lukeville. The problem is that the Government seized Cotterman’s laptop so it could conduct a computer forensic search, a time consuming and tremendously invasive process, without any particularized suspicion whatsoever. [emphasis added]

Those reading this blog are highly encouraged to click upon the links above to read the entire opinion as posted on Google Scholar.

Clearly, the ruling in this case could have a dramatic impact upon those individuals traveling in or through the United States of America. That said, it remains to be seen whether or not this case sees appeal to the United States Supreme Court and should such an appeal be heard: the opinion thereof.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant.

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22nd December 2010

The Wikileaks controversy has been captivating both the print media and the online media recently as it represents one of the most high profile examples of governmental information leakage in recent years. For those who are unfamiliar with the controversy a brief synopsis could be summed up by saying that the supposed Director of Wikileaks, Mr. Julian Assange, apparently came across approximately 250,000 leaked cables which were allegedly obtained by a military enlisted man in Iraq. The cables appear to contain information which was deemed “Secret” by officials of the US government.

The reason for this blog post is not to delve into the Wikileaks controversy itself, but the issue of extradition to the United States of America. To quote directly from a recent report from the Reuters News Agency:

“The risk we have always been concerned about is onward extradition to the United States and that seems to be increasingly serious and increasingly likely,” Assange told reporters in the sprawling grounds of the house in eastern England where he must spend Christmas and New Year.

Extradition to the USA is a serious proposition and it is this author’s opinion that there would be a strong likelihood that US officials may try to use extradition proceedings in an effort to bring Mr. Assange under the jurisdiction of the United States Courts. The news report went on to note:

Asked if he was facing a U.S. conspiracy, Assange told reporters: “I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation. A lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said his government was considering using the U.S. Espionage Act, under which it is illegal to obtain national defense information for the purpose of harming the United States, as well as other laws to prosecute the release of sensitive government information by WikiLeaks.

One key question for U.S. prosecutors is if they can determine whether Assange collaborated with the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who is suspected of leaking the classified material. Assange has denied any connection with the former U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning.

The issues noted above are not well settled under United States law. Many, both in the media and across the internet, have argued that Mr. Assange is more “freedom fighter” than “terrorist”. Meanwhile, groups with opposing views have called for Mr. Assange’s arrest on the grounds that he has committed the crime of espionage against the USA. In any case, it should be pointed out that only recently the United States government went to great lengths to extradite Viktor Bout, the so-called “Lord of War” or “Merchant of Death” from the Kingdom of Thailand. As noted in a previous posting, this was not the first instance of the United States going great lengths to bring a foreign national under its jurisdiction for the purpose of putting them on trial as can be evidenced from the arrest and subsequent incarceration of Manuel Noriega (Former quasi-dictator of Panama). However this case ultimately plays out one thing is clear: Mr. Assange is likely to remain the target of attentions from the US government for the foreseeable future.

For related information please see:  fugitive warrant or Arrest Warrant.

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15th September 2010

The American Department of State (DOS) is responsible for a great number of government functions performed in the United States of America and abroad. On this blog, we routinely post information about issues connected to DOS in an effort to disseminate useful information to Americans abroad or foreign nationals seeking information about US Immigration. It recently came to this author’s attention that the American State Department has released a new edition of a publication designed to provide insight to American law enforcement officials regarding protocols which must be adhered to in situations involving foreign Consular officials. To quote a press release from the Department of State and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The Department of State is pleased to announce its publication of the third edition of “The Consular Notification and Access Manual.” Produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser, the manual instructs federal, state and local law enforcement and other officials on actions they must take to comply with U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international agreements. It includes details on steps U.S. authorities must take when a foreign national in the United States is arrested or detained, dies, is involved in the wreck of a foreign vessel, or requires the appointment of a guardian.

The manual, which is available free of charge, supports the Department’s efforts to ensure that the United States meets its international obligations to notify foreign consular officials about their citizens in the United States. To order the manual or to access the online version, please visit the consular notification and access section of our website at www.travel.state.gov/consularnotification.

The Vienna Convention is an important pillar of American law enforcement policy regarding foreign Missions in the United States. The rules stipulated in the Vienna Convention generally apply to personnel of US Missions abroad. Therefore, reciprocal adherence to Vienna Convention protocols creates a more stable international community for all concerned.

These issues should not be confused with those related to Americans who have been arrested abroad. As a rule, the Vienna Convention does not apply to Americans abroad who have no government affiliation. Thus, an American arrested abroad is unlikely to be treated in the same manner as American government representatives accredited to a given country.

Americans arrested overseas or those who find that they are the subject of an American warrant are well advised to contact a licensed American lawyer who can provide insight into the methods for resolving a pending criminal matter.

For related information please see: US Warrant or Extradition.

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14th September 2010

When Americans are arrested abroad it is a serious issue. Many nations do not have the same legal procedures as the United States. Therefore, the protocols under which an American is tried for a criminal offense abroad can be very different from the rules for charging and prosecuting an individual with a crime in the USA. Fortunately, the American State Department provides assistance to those US Citizens who have been arrested and/or incarcerated overseas. The following is quoted directly from the US State Department website:

DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF SERVICES PROVIDED TO U.S. CITIZENS ARRESTED ABROAD BY U.S. CONSULAR OFFICERS. SINCE CONDITIONS VARY FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY, THE PRECISE NATURE OF SERVICES MAY VARY LIKEWISE, DEPENDING ON INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES IN A PARTICULAR CASE.

SUMMARY: One of the most essential tasks of the Department of State and of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad. The State Department is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for American citizens imprisoned overseas. We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority, in accordance with international law. We can and do monitor conditions in foreign prisons and immediately protest allegations of abuse against American prisoners. We work with prison officials to ensure treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards of human rights and to ensure that Americans are afforded due process under local laws.

There is little doubt that American Consular Officers provide a tremendous amount of assistance to American Citizens imprisoned or arrested abroad. However, it should be reiterated that Americans traveling abroad may not be subject to familiar laws and regulations. Therefore, prior research of a given nation’s legal system may provide the intending traveler with some insight into the legal system of the country or countries where they may be staying while outside of the USA. To quote the aforementioned website further:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country”s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. As our Country Specific Information explain, penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, possibly convicted and sentenced, and for any appeals process. Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.

There are a number of services that US Consular Officers can provide, but there are a significant number of areas where US government personnel cannot provide assistance as it may be prohibited by law. To again quote the DOS website:

A consular officer cannot :

- demand the immediate release of a U.S. citizen arrested abroad or otherwise cause the citizen to be released.

- represent a U.S. citizen at trial, give legal advice or pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. Government funds.

These disclaimers are important to note as many Americans are under the mistaken impression that American Consular Officers are meant to act in a representative capacity with respect to pending criminal charges overseas. This is simply not the case. Therefore, those arrested and/or incarcerated in a foreign country are well advised to contact either a foreign attorney or an American attorney abroad in an attempt to gain insight into one’s options with regard to pending foreign criminal charges. Furthermore, depending upon the country, it may be possible for an American Citizen to arrange for bail. This at least allows the American to be released while awaiting an adjudication on the merits of a pending case.

The issue of foreign criminal charges should not be confused with the issue of pending American criminal charges or a pending arrest warrant. If one has a pending warrant from the United States, then it may be necessary to contact an American attorney in order to ascertain one’s options with regard to both the warrant as well as the underlying case in order to make informed decisions about resolving the matter in a legally acceptable manner.

For related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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18th July 2010

In a recent article, promulgated by The Nation Newspaper and distributed by the website ThaiVisa.com, it was announced that an American Citizen was arrested on money laundering charges on the Thai island of Koh Samui. To quote directly from ThaiVisa.com:

An American wanted by US authorities for alleged money laundering was charged on Samui Island yesterday.

Immigration police arrested Ronald Paul Shade, 39, who was allegedly fled California after international police and San Bernardino court issued arrest warrants for him. He was detained to face charges of money laundering and stealing about US$14 million.

Police said the American Embassy contacted them to trace Shade. They later found him “hiding” in Samui, which led to the arrest.

The suspect, who allegedly confessed, will be extradited to the US, according to a bilateral extradition treaty.

In the relatively recent past, occurrences such as this were relatively rare. This was likely due to the fact that the Thai Immigration database was not “tied in” to the American criminal databases and watchlists. Recently, it was announced that the Thai Immigration database would begin sharing information with their American counterparts, and vice versa. It is important to note that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share an Extradition Treaty. Therefore, an American Citizen with a pending criminal warrant, such as the suspect in the aforementioned news report, could be detained in Thailand and extradited back to the United States to face trial for the alleged offenses.

In the United States, there are various types of warrants and writs which could be issued in an attempt to compel an American Citizen, foreign national, or lawful permanent resident, to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction. For example, a bench warrant is generally issued by a Court when a defendant has failed to appear in connection with a pending civil or criminal matter. In some cases, those with a traffic citation, who fail to properly deal with the matter, are subjected to a bench warrant until such time as the underlying charge is satisfactorily resolved.

Under certain circumstances, a court in one jurisdiction will issue a fugitive warrant for the arrest of an individual in connection with an offense committed in another jurisdiction. Although this is somewhat uncommon, such matters are highly complex and those who are the subject of such a warrant should seek competent legal advice as soon as possible in an effort to deal with the matter in accordance with all relevant laws.

It would appear that Royal Thai Immigration authorities are taking a hard line against foreigners who are suspects in legal proceedings abroad. It remain to be seen whether this policy will continue to be rigorously enforced by Thai authorities, but one could easily infer that enforcement will continue and possibly become more zealous.

For further informational reading please see: warrant or Warrant For My Arrest.

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7th July 2010

American Warrants: An Overview

Posted by : admin

The American Criminal Justice system, and the body of US law springing therefrom, is something of an amalgam of 234 years of American jurisprudence both codified and recognized by means of common law legal doctrines such as stare decisis. The following is a brief overview of US warrants and their usage by American courts in enforcing jurisdiction over individuals (both American Citizens and Foreign Nationals).

The Bench Warrant

The following is a direct quote from Wikipedia:

A bench warrant is a variant of an arrest warrant that authorizes the immediate on-sight arrest of the individual subject to the bench warrant. Typically, judges issue bench warrants for persons deemed to be in contempt of court—possibly as a result of that person’s failure to appear at the appointed time and date for a mandated court appearance. Bench warrants are issued in either criminal or civil court proceedings.

Commonly (but not always), the person who is subject to a bench warrant has intentionally avoided a court appearance to escape the perceived consequences of being found guilty of a crime. If a person was on bail awaiting criminal trial when the nonappearance took place, the court usually forfeits bail and may set a higher bail amount to be paid when the subject is rearrested, but normally the suspect is held in custody without bail. If a person has a bench warrant against them when stopped by a law enforcement officer, the authorities put them in jail and a hearing is held. The hearing usually results in the court setting a new bail amount, new conditions, and a new court appearance date. Often, if a person is arrested on a bench warrant, the court declares them a flight risk (likely to flee) and orders them held without bail.

Bench warrants are traditionally issued by sitting judges or magistrates.

There are a relatively large number of instances in which an individual finds that they have a pending bench warrant. Some opt to take the “do nothing” approach and simply hope the problem will go away on its own. Generally, this is unwise as courts rarely, if ever, allow a pending bench warrant to “go away”. Therefore, those with a pending warrant are well advised to retain competent legal counsel in an effort to deal with the matter promptly.

Arrest Warrant

With that in mind, the following quote, from the aforementioned wikipedia entry, succinctly sums up the issues regarding an outstanding arrest warrant:

An outstanding arrest warrant is an arrest warrant that has not been served. A warrant may be outstanding if the person named in the warrant is intentionally evading law enforcement, is unaware that a warrant is out for him/her, the agency responsible for executing the warrant has a backlog of warrants to serve, or a combination of these factors.

Some jurisdictions have a very high number of outstanding warrants. The U.S. state of California in 1999 had around 2.5 million outstanding warrants, with nearly 1 million of them in the Los Angeles area.[4]The city of Baltimore, Maryland, had 53,000 as of 2007.[5] New Orleans, Louisiana, has 49,000.[6]

Some places have laws placing various restrictions on persons with outstanding warrants, such as prohibiting renewal of one’s driver’s license or obtaining a passport.

The final line of the above quotation brings up a point that has previously been mentioned on this blog. Namely: the confiscation of one’s US passport by the American government if one has a pending arrest warrant in the USA. As has been previously noted on this blog, this can be an occasional occurrence outside of the United States when an American travels to a US Embassy or US Consulate to renew their passport or add visa pages at an American Citizen Services Section. In a large number of cases, if a pending arrest warrant is discovered, even if unknown to the subject, the passport will likely be seized, but the American Citizen may be given the option of being issued a travel document to travel back to the USA to deal with the pending matter.

Mittimus

Although not as commonplace in modern times, the mittimus writ is similar to a warrant and its practical application can be very similar to that of a warrant in some cases . The following is a final quote from the previously mentioned Wikipedia entry:

A mittimus is a writ issued by a court or magistrate, directing the sheriff or other executive officer to convey the person named in the writ to a prison or jail, and directing the jailor to receive and imprison the person.

An example of the usage of this word is as follows: “… Thomas Fraser, Gregor Van Iveren and John Schaver having some time since been Confirmed by the Committee of the County of Albany for being Persons disaffected to the Cause of America and whose going at large may be dangerous to the State, Ordered Thereupon that a Mittimus be made out to keep them confined till such time as they be discharged by the Board or any other three of the Commissioners.” Minutes of the Commissioners for detecting and defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Albany County Sessions,1778-1781. (Albany, New York: 1909) Vol. 1, Page 90

In police jargon, these writs are sometimes referred to as CAPIAS, defined as orders to “take” a person or assets. CAPIAS writs are often issued when a suspect fails to appear for a scheduled adjudication, hearing, etc.

As can be inferred from the citation above, the mittimus writ has its roots in American legal history and can still impact individuals (both American and Foreign) today.

Fugitive Warrant

Fugitive Warrants are another type of legal instrument that differ slightly from the aforementioned warrants. Below is a direct quotation from the glossary of Lawyers.com:

Definition
: an arrest warrant issued in one jurisdiction for someone who is a fugitive from another jurisdiction

Those with a pending American Fugitive Warrant are strongly advised to seek counsel from a competent American attorney in an effort to resolve the situation and deal with the legal consequences as quickly as possible.

Nothing stated above should be viewed as a definitive legal analysis regarding the issue of US Warrants. Furthermore, any individual case is unique and as a result no general information transmitted herein should be viewed as an appropriate legal analysis of a unique factual situation. For further information please see: warrant for my arrest or extradition.

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22nd February 2010

Recently the Royal Thai Immigration Police Department announced a new initiative to sweep up foreign criminals residing in Thailand. This effort is to be made possible through what appears to be the interlinking of various warrant databases. Once Thai Immigration officials link their system to that of countries such as the United States, or international organizations such as the European Union it will be less difficult to track down those in Thailand with a foreign arrest warrant or fugitive warrant.

The Bangkok Post is reporting that the new chief of the Thai Immigration Bureau is taking measures to see that foreign criminals in Thailand are apprehended through an initiative known as the “Three S’s” The Three S’s stand for “Security Standards and Service.”

In the realm of security, new initiatives are to be taken which will provide Royal Thai Immigration Police with access to international criminal warrant databases. These records would provide Thai Immigration officers as well as regular police officers with criminal histories of foreigners present in the Kingdom of Thailand. This information will be used to ascertain the location of such international criminals and facilitate apprehension.

The new campaign will also entail the creation of a new National Criminal Center. This Center seems to be intended as a repository for international criminal records. At the time of this writing, it is the author’s understanding that this Center will coordinate their activities with such foreign agencies as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as other national, state, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and around the world.

Another facet of Thai Immigration’s crackdown is the campaign to apprehend and deal with illegal aliens. Based upon the information contained in the above cited Bangkok Post article the new Royal Thai Immigration Chief seems to have expressed an intention to apprehend those foreign nationals who are present in the country illegally. How this will impact long term western tourists and expatriates remains to be seen as overstaying one’s Thai visa has become increasingly common since it is not longer possible to obtain a 30 day visa exemption stamp at Thai land borders.

In a way, these two initiatives are related as it could be easily inferred that those using Thailand as a place to evade foreign criminal warrants could also be Thailand visa violators.

For more information on this issue please see a previous blog post located here: criminal warrant.

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