How to Find Out if You Have an Arrest Warrant in Canada
There are multiple ways to find out if a warrant has been issued for your arrest in Canada. However, many ways of finding out if you have a warrant come with a level of risk. While you can go in-person to a police station or a courthouse with photo identification to see if there is a warrant out for your arrest, the safest way of finding this out is through a lawyer.
If you present yourself to the police or to a court clerk and they inform you that there is an existing warrant, an officer or sheriff may arrest you on the spot. Depending on the crime for which the warrant was issued, you may be released on an appearance notice or undertaking. However, if your circumstances or the crime’s severity require a formal bail hearing, there is a chance you may not be released and could be detained until trial if you do not make bail. If you do choose to present yourself to the police or courts, we recommend you consult one of our dedicated criminal defence lawyers prior to for advice.
By having a lawyer inquire about the warrant on your behalf, you will not risk being arrested on the spot at the station or courthouse. Instead, your lawyer can help you arrange a time and place to turn yourself in to the police to deal with the warrant, and most importantly, they can work on a plan to maximize the chances you will be released on bail. Moreover, if there is not a warrant out for your arrest but you have reason to believe one will soon be coming, our lawyers can provide you with pre-charge legal advice specific to your circumstances and guide you on how to handle future police interactions.
Is my Arrest Warrant Enforceable in Other Provinces?
Warrants that are issued by a justice or a provincial court are generally only valid in the province where they were issued. However, there are some circumstances where you can be arrested for a warrant outside of the province that initially authorized it. Waiver and transfer of warrants is a complex and situation-specific topic. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, you should consult an experienced criminal defence lawyer.
One such example of a warrant that will be enforceable outside of the province in which it is issued is when a Canada-wide warrant is issued for your arrest. This authorizes police forces across Canada to bring you in to custody, regardless of the province in which you are found. Canada-wide warrants are issued in serious cases. In sum, these are warrants that are not attached to a specific jurisdiction (area).
Most commonly, a Canada-wide warrant refers to warrants issued under s.703(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (The “Code”). Such warrants are issued by either a superior court or a court of appeal and allow for the warrant to be executed anywhere in the country. Conversely, pursuant to s.703(2) of the Code, warrants issued by a justice or provincial court judge can only be acted upon by police in the province in which it was issued. The exact wording of these provisions in the Code are below:
Transferring or Waiving Your Charges at Warrant Status to Another Province
Can my charges be transferred?
In some cases where you have an active arrest warrant one province, it may be possible to have the warrant transferred to another jurisdiction. Transferring an active arrest warrant is distinct from transferring or ‘waiving’ charges that are already in the system to a system in another jurisdiction, and different rules apply. While uncommon, the possibility of waiving charges is highly context and fact specific and requires communication with the Crown prosecutor assigned to the file. Moreover, it is crucial to know that an active warrant can only be transferred if you are going to plead guilty.
This page provides only a general overview of some situations involving out of province warrants. If you have a local or out of province warrant that you are dealing with, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defence lawyer today.