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Arrest Warrants (Vic)

There are many types of warrants that can be issued by police and courts in Victoria with respect to criminal proceedings. The most common types that are seen are warrants for arrest and warrants of search/seizure. This article will focus on arrest warrants.

When are arrest warrants issued?

There are various instances in which an individual may find themselves subject to an outstanding warrant for their arrest. Sometimes this is due to an unintentional oversight (not being aware of a court date) or alternatively, due to a deliberate omission (intentionally not appearing at court).

How do I know if I have an outstanding warrant?

In most instances, you will not be aware if there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, until such time that you are intercepted by Victoria Police.

If you suspect that you may have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, the easiest and most convenient way to establish this is to undertake a National Police Check on yourself.

There are various organisations through which these checks can be done. Following undertaking such a check, any outstanding arrest warrant will be disclosed.

However, most commonly, people will become aware that there is an outstanding warrant during a routine/random intercept by Victoria Police.

Accused must attend court

In most instances, where an individual is dealt with on summons for a criminal matter, they are provided with court documentation containing a specific date for them to appear at court, to have their matter heard. In most instances, they must be in attendance on this date.

There are of course exceptions to this, generally in situations where the person has a lawyer acting on their behalf (and has an exceptional reason as to why they cannot appear) or has the matter dealt with in their absence (ex parte). Please note however that there are very strict rules about which offences can be dealt with in a person’s absence, with these generally limited to offences with a maximum penalty of less than 20 penalty units (which don’t carry the possibility of imprisonment).

Should a person miss a court date that has been listed without providing the court with advance notice of this (in writing), then the court can either:

  1. Hear the matter in their absence (subject to the above);
  2. Adjourn the matter to a future date; or
  3. Issue a warrant for their arrest.

I have an arrest warrant. What do I do?

If you have been made aware that you have an arrest warrant issued because of failing to appear at court, it is prudent that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

In order to have your matter relisted before the court, the warrant must be ‘executed’.

In order to have a warrant executed, you will need to present at your local police station (preferably the station that is responsible for the warrant, which can be found by contacting the Informant).

It is prudent that you receive legal advice prior to having the warrant executed.

Following a warrant being executed, the police can:

  1. Release the person on bail, to appear at court on a future date; or
  2. Remand the person in custody.

In instances whereby police grant bail following the execution of a warrant, there can be additional conditions that may be included on the bail agreement, such as:

  1. Not to leave Victoria;
  2. Not to attend any points of departure (airports etc); or
  3. Any other conditions that police deem necessary.

In some instances, police may refuse to grant bail, if there are circumstances that justify not doing so.

What if I cannot travel to Victoria to execute my warrant?

In certain circumstances, individuals might not be able to travel into Victoria to have a warrant executed. A warrant may occasionally be executed by another state or territory that the individual is residing in; however, this is not very common.

In most instances, the individual will be required to present themselves before a Victoria police station to have their warrant executed. However, when a person does this, they may be released on bail with conditions prohibiting them from leaving Victoria.

Removing an arrest warrant

Under Section 58 of the Magistrates Court Act 1989, a warrant that has been issued by a magistrate can be recalled or cancelled by a magistrate. This removes the warrant. The matter is subsequently re-listed before the court.

Victoria Police also have the power to return a warrant ‘unexecuted’ to the issuing court, essentially indicating that they are unable to execute the warrant. In this situation, the court will re-list the matter and a new court date is scheduled, allowing the matter to be determined.

If you want to ask the police to return a warrant unexecuted, they will generally require detailed information from your legal representative (or yourself) as to why the warrant should be re-turned unexecuted. This process generally takes some time to complete, due to various administrative steps that need to be taken by your legal representative, Victoria Police and the issuing court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Joseph Palamara - Managing Associate - Werribee

This article was written by Joseph Palamara - Managing Associate - Werribee

Joseph holds a Bachelor of Laws from Victoria University and completed his Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. Joseph also holds a Certificate in Legal Business from the College of Law. Joseph was admitted to practise law in the Supreme Court of Victoria in March 2017 and is also admitted in the High Court of Australia....

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