Got a Warrant? The Net Widens

Jeff Downer   When a police vehicle comes up behind you while driving, have you ever wondered if the officer is checking your license plate number?  In Indiana the answer may be both yes and no.   Yes, your license plate is being researched – but not by the officer.  It is the police car doing the check.

The Indiana State Police have begun using automated license plate readers mounted on some of their patrol cars.  The readers record and check all license plate numbers that are encountered.  If any issues are detected, the reader will alert the officer and provide a picture of the vehicle of interest.

These plate readers are doing more than just checking driver and vehicle license statuses.  They are also tapping into criminal justice databases including ones for warrants and sex offender registries.  Having a valid drivers license will not keep one safe from being pulled over if they have a warrant.  The officer will be alerted about that as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this technology.  As it matures and become more widely adopted the scope will become staggering.  Imagine a network of every law enforcement vehicle with access to all state’s driving and warrants records and NCIC to boot.  The biggest problem could very well be in trying to manage an immense flow of information while out patrolling on the streets.

Posted in Crime, Law Enforcement, Warrant.

Have I Got a Bail Bond for You!

Jeff Downer  Here’s a great idea from the Lone Star State:

The Humane Society of Central Texas is hoping to offer a free week of kitten adoptions soon, called “Bail Bonds for Kittens” – KWKT Waco, TX

The idea is that you post “bail” for cats and kittens that can be adopted by those who can’t afford the adoption fees.  I’m a dog person so it sounds like a win-win for me.  I can help save the poor little things but I don’t have to bring one home.

The best part of all is the felines aren’t supposed to come back – for court or anything else.

Posted in Bail, Smiles. Tagged with .

Airport Arrest on Warrant Issued in 1979

Jeff Downer  The Cook County Sheriff’s Department arrested fugitive Ata Yousef El Ammouri at O’Hare International Airport recently on a warrant charging him with murder.

Ammouri was originally arrested and charged in 1979 for the slaying of Joe Harris after Harris allegedly stole a can of Miller Lite from Ammouri’s neighborhood store.  After posting a $100,000 bail bond, Ammouri then fled the the country resulting the court issuing a failure to appear warrant.

Flash forward 34 years to the present when Ammouri, traveling from Jordan to Tennessee to attend a graduation ceremony, is arrested while changing planes in Chicago by Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies  It was no coincidence they were there when he got off the plane.  They knew he was coming.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart credited local and federal cooperation in sharing knowledge and making the apprehension possible.  The federal agencies who had been working with the Sheriff”s personnel included the State Department and Homeland Security.

This story resonated with me because I so often encounter questions about traveling with outstanding warrants.  In a post 9/11 world full databases and lists designed to raise red flags of course there is a very real chance of being arrested on a warrant.   Even if the fugitive has been half a world away and 34 years distant.

There is one more thing.  This time Ammouri was held without bond.

Posted in Bail Bonds, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Warrant. Tagged with , .

But it Was Just a Joke…

Jeff Downer  Like ABC’s Wide World of Sports I span the internet  looking stories about bail and bonding.   Things can be mighty different in other countries when it come the situations where bail is involved – such as the following tale from India.

Recently a court in India issued no bail warrants for the cast and crew of  the movie Taur Mittran Di.  It seems an attorney found the depiction of the Indian legal community in the film to be less than amusing and filed a complaint with a local court:

The counsel for complainant Harinder Singh Lali said “the lawyer fraternity was pained to see advocates being projected as laughing stock in the film”.

Furthermore, apparently there exist grounds under Indian law to pursue such a complaint:

He had prayed to take action against the erring actors u/s 499, 500 and 120B of the IPC for defaming the legal profession.

Oops.  Good thing that lawyer never saw …And Justice for All.

Now I have been known to tell lawyer jokes, especially to my dad.  My father was a judge for 22 years and not known for his sense of whimsy.  Any lawyer joke telling on my part would usually just result in muttering about changing the will.   I don’t believe he ever considered tossing me in jail and throwing away the key for having a little fun at his expense.  Then again, I was his only son.

P.S.   Still missing ya Dad.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Smiles. Tagged with , .

Interstate Extradition Bonds

Jeff Downer  When an arrest warrant is issued there are instances when the defendant is arrested on the warrant while in another state.  The process of transferring the defendant to the state which issued the warrant is called extradition.

The extradition procedure is governed by the Uniform Extradition Act (UEC) and is recognized by all 50 states.  The defendant may waive going through the procedure or as part of due process the defendant may also challenge being extradited.   If the extradition is challenged the court will set a hearing to hear arguments as to why the defendant should not be extradited.  The setting of the hearing date must allow the defendant time to adequately prepare.

Per the UEC, while awaiting any hearing or extradition surrender date the defendant must be permitted to post bail:

Unless the offense with which the prisoner is charged is shown to be an offense punishable by death or life imprisonment under the laws of the state in which it was committed, the judge must admit the person arrested to bail by bond or undertaking, with sufficient sureties, and in such sum as he deems proper, for his appearance before him at a time specified in such bond or undertaking, and for his surrender, to be arrested upon the warrant of the governor of this state.

Note that an extradition bond is meant only to insure appearances during the extradition process.  Once a defendant is extradited, another bail bond may be required for release while awaiting trial for the underlying case.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, National, Warrant. Tagged with , , .

Can Bail Be Posted on Out of County Holds?

Jeff Downer  There are instances when when someone is arrested in one county on a warrant issued by another county.  After such arrests the defendant is transported to the local jail to await transfer to the jurisdiction which issued the warrant.  This scenario is described as being held on an out of county hold.

One of the first questions always asked is whether a bail bond can be posted immediately or must the defendant be transferred before bail may be made.  The answer is the defendant must be transferred to the county from which the warrant is issued before any bail bond may be posted.

That is not to say that occasionally a county may decline to come fetch the defendant or the underlying reason for the warrant cannot be addressed resulting in the release of the defendant prior to any transfer.  An example of this circumstance could be the defendant has unpaid financial obligations to the court such as fines and costs.  It may be possible in this situation to pay the fines and costs and have the warrant recalled.

The bottom line is that when a person is arrested on an out of county hold, be prepared to for a wait of several days before the defendant will be eligible to be released on bail.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Fugitive, Jail. Tagged with , .

Betcha Can’t Steal Just One

Jeff Downer

Two Citra, Fla., siblings were arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft after police caught the pair with a van full of allegedly stolen Frito-Lay chips. – From Yahoo!/GMA

It seems that the Frito Banditos had brought along a hyperactive two year old who attracted some unwanted law enforcement attention.   This is why you do not use toddlers as a lookout.  Besides that they eat all the profits.

Posted in Crime, Jail, Smiles.

Who’s Your Pal? Who’s Your Buddy?

Posted in Bail Bonds, Bondsman, Smiles. Tagged with .

Do Failure to Appear Warrants Expire?

Jeff Downer  A question often arises as to whether warrants issued for failure to appear in court will expire after a certain period of time.  The answer is no.

A wishful thinking defendant may hope that by failing to appear and remaining in a fugitive status for a long enough period of time will create some type of statute of limitations scenario where their case will magically disappear, and they will become immune from further prosecution on the matter.

Indiana failure to appear law is quite clear on this subject.  Any warrant issued for failing to appear in court (whether the case be a misdemeanor or a felony) does not come with an expiration date.  The warrant will remain in effect until the defendant is returned to face the court.

IC 35-33-2-4 Expiration; reissuance      Sec. 4. A warrant of arrest for a misdemeanor expires one hundred eighty (180) days after it is issued. A warrant of arrest for a felony and a rearrest warrant for any offense do not expire. A sheriff who has an expired warrant shall make a return on the warrant stating that it has expired and shall return it to the clerk of the court that issued it. The clerk shall enter the fact that the warrant has expired in his records and shall notify the prosecuting attorney of the county that the warrant has expired. Upon request of the prosecuting attorney, the court shall issue another warrant.

Failing to appear on a criminal case may buy some time on the run living as a fugitive, but it will not purchase a resolution to the case.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law. Tagged with , , .

Is Failure to Appear a Crime?

Jeff Downer  Is a defendant’s failure to appear on a criminal case considered a separate criminal offense in it’s own right?  In most states and jurisdictions the answer is yes.

What this means is that not only will a failure to appear warrant be issued for current case, an entirely new criminal charge of failure to appear can be pursued against the defendant.  Commonly, the seriousness of the new failure to appear charge will depend upon the charge levels in the originating case.

In Indiana, this is how the failure to appear charge levels are determined:

  •  If the the original case consisted of misdemeanor charges then the failure to appear would be charged  as a Class A misdemeanor.
  • If the the original charges were felonies then the new failure to appear charge would be pursued as a Class D felony.

The key takeaway here is that failing to appear not only risks incurring the ill will of the court but also running the risk facing even more criminal charges.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law. Tagged with , , .