Monday, June 25, 2007
TRAVEL ADVISORY: CLEAR YOUR WARRANTS BEFORE TRAVELING
Ah, the Patriot Act. Did anyone actually believe the Government when they said that all these new laws were meant to "protect" us and not infringe upon our civil liberties? Well, one of the latest fall outs from the Patriot Act is the National Computerized Data Banks that now connect your criminal and arrest history to our nation's borders and airports.
What exactly does this mean? Most importantly IF you have any outstanding warrants for your arrest, it is highly advisable you contact an attorney and you take care of them NOW. No matter how old they are (a client last week had a relatively minor warrant for an event that occurred over 15 years ago, and he was arrested coming off a cruise ship with his partner) as there is no statute of limitations on a criminal matter once it has been filed. Generally if you walk into court with an attorney and try to clear the matter up, the court will treat you a great deal kinder then if you are dragged into court against your will.
Generally, most people are picked up on outstanding warrants when they come into some form of law enforcement contact, either through a traffic stop or general police interrogation. However, now your criminal history is run through our nations borders and airports prior to international and sometimes interstate travel as well.
Additionally, say you are traveling to Australia and you are connecting through a flight through San Francisco, and you have an outstanding warrant in Los Angeles. Once you leave Los Angeles, generally your passport or identification will not be checked against these data banks until your final US destination before leaving the country. Once your passport is checked and your warrant is discovered in San Francisco, you will be arrested in San Francisco, and have to wait up to 30 days in custody for a representative from Los Angeles Law Enforcement to come bring you back to Los Angeles before you can see a judge.
Also, if you are currently out on bail, on probation or have a prior criminal history this will all be displayed for the US Customs Officer at the US port of reentry once your return from your trip abroad. This can be highly embarrassing for you and your travel partners, as you will often be subjected to hours of questioning about these outstanding matters. However, there are things you can do to minimize the chances of this happening.
Lastly, many people do not even know they have warrants outstanding. Many times, people are investigated for crimes which result in filing; fail to complete court orders; or pay fines and warrants are issued without any notification. It is advisable that if you think you may have a warrant to contact and attorney and have them do the necessary tasks to make sure you are not subjected to these procedures.
If you have questions about this or any other legal matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at the Law Offices Of Carl Simons (310) 749-4LAW.