Blog

Finally, a requirement that a person in custody be able to clear outstanding warrants

A new NC law requires that when someone is in jail on one case and the person has outstanding warrants on unrelated matters, the Department of Corrections and each court where the defendant appears must identify all outstanding warrants so that the incarcerated person can clear up these burdensome and expensive warrants while they are in custody.
This may not seem like a big deal but it is. Clearing up outstanding warrants:unpaid traffic tickets, cases when the person failed to appear etc. not only deprives the incarcerated person of concurrent jail time but subjects them to future arrest and keeps the system clogged with warrants.
In the legal world, the phrase is “judicial economy’ but in the real world, it is called “efficiency” and/or “killing two birds with one stone.” In California, where I practiced previously, when a person was incarcerated on one case, the computer would generate a list of all their outstanding warrants from any county in the state. Then that person would “make the rounds.” All the arrest warrants issued for unpaid tickets, failures to appear and violations of probations would be resolved expeditiously. Minor traffic and misdemeanor cases would typically either be dismissed or the defendant would received a time served sentence which would run concurrently (at the same time) as the charge for which the person was in jail in the first place.
Now when a person gets out of jail, that person will have cleaned up all outstanding warrants and need not need to fear arrest for warrants which had been in the system but not flagged.The law also states that the Department of Adult Correction, the police, the prosecutors and the courts must develop a process to identify and resolve all outstanding warrants while the person is in jail.
If you or a loved one is in jail and they have outstanding warrants, this law is tasked with forcing the system to help the incarcerated person clean up cases so when they are released, they can be unencumbered by the past and can focus on their future.
The new law is S.L. 2015-48 (H 570): Duty to identify outstanding arrest warrants. Amended G.S. 15A-301.1 creates the requirement that the custodial law enforcement agency must attempt to identify all outstanding warrants and notify appropriate law enforcement agencies of the person’s location. The same duty is imposed on a court before entering any court order in a criminal case. Newly enacted G.S. 148-10.5 requires the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety to work with law enforcement, district attorneys’ offices, and courts to develop a process at intake and before release to identify all outstanding warrants for an inmate and to resolve them while he or she is in custody, if feasible. The inmate must be notified of the outstanding warrant and any right to counsel. [This session law is effective October 1, 2015]