What is a Warrant in Alaska?
In Alaska, a warrant is a legal document that authorizes law enforcement to perform certain acts that are incidental to the administration of justice. Law enforcement officers often use warrants to arrest a person, search, or seize their property as evidence of a crime. It can also be used to bring a person to court, where they have refused to show up for a court appearance. In some other circumstances, warrants may be issued to ensure compliance with tax payments. In Alaska, warrants are issued under the authority of a judge or magistrate, and by the provision of the Fourth Amendment, the court must have probable cause before issuing it.
How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Alaska?
Persons who want to find out if they have an outstanding warrant in Alaska may choose to carry out a warrant search. The search can be done in any of the following ways:
- Conducting a criminal background search
- Contacting the Clerks of Courts
- Contacting the Alaska State Troopers
A background check is a procedure used to verify a person’s information or find any existing criminal history or activity. Alaska Statute AS 12.62.160 allows individuals to access criminal justice information, and the Department of Public Safety, Criminal Records and Identification (R&I) Bureau maintains the Alaska Criminal Justice Information. Interested persons may initiate a name-based search request or submit their fingerprints for a fingerprint-based search. Not every warrant shows up on a background check, for example, a search warrant. Other warrants like arrest warrants, civil warrants, and bench warrants are mostly public records and may show up in a background check.
Another way to access warrants in Alaska is to contact the Clerk of The Court under the Alaska Court System. The Clerk of The Court keeps the records of the judiciary, as well as manages court dockets. Individuals need to visit the specific court office to initiate this process. Interested persons may also contact the Alaska State Troopers under the Department of Public Safety. The Alaska State Troopers make available to the public a directory of active warrants in Alaska in PDF and CVS versions. The public may access this list, which is updated daily, to determine if they have outstanding warrants.
Records of warrants issued or executed in various jurisdictions are also maintained and by third-party websites. While third-party sites make accessing these records substantially easier, the information available on the sites may vary since they are not government run sources. To obtain warrant records from a third-party site, the requesting party may be required to provide:
- The personal information of the alleged suspect
- Information regarding the issuing officer
- The location where the warrant was issued.
How Long Does a Warrant Stay Active in Alaska?
There is no applicable statute of limitation on warrants. They usually stay open until the subject dies or the judge quashes or recalls the warrant for some reason. Warrants do not expire because they may encourage suspects to evade warrants until their expiration. As a result, a person may be brought in after a routine traffic stop for an outstanding warrant. They may also be detained at the US Customs when trying to enter the US if they were outside the country. In certain circumstances, a warrant may become moot when a long time has passed, like an arrest warrant, complaint warrant, or search warrant.
The rationale is that the complaint upon which the warrant is based has become statute-barred. Persons who think they might have a warrant need to contact an attorney who will help them determine its kind of warrant. Knowing the applicable warrant is the first step in dealing with it. An attorney may then, depending on the type of case and the amount of time passed, appear in court to ask for the warrant to be lifted or squashed. Where it is a felony matter, this approach is generally not possible.
What is an Alaska Search Warrant?
A search warrant is a written court order that directs law enforcement officers to search a specified person, vehicle, premises, or other property for purposes of seizing the property contained in the warrant. Rule 37 of the Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a Judge or Magistrate may issue a search warrant where there is probable cause to do so. A search warrant shall be issued upon an affidavit or sworn testimony before an authorized judicial officer. It usually contains the following information:
- The name or description of the place or person to be searched
- Identity of the property that is the subject of the search warrant
- Grounds or probable cause for its issuance
The Judge or magistrate shall then direct an officer of the state to enforce the warrant within a reasonable period, not exceeding 30 days of its issuance. However, the time frame can be extended upon a sworn application made before the expiry of the 30 days. The court may then extend the execution period for a good cause and for a reasonable time not exceeding 30 days.
What Can Make an Alaska Search Warrant Invalid?
The mere fact that a Judge or Magistrate issued a search warrant does not make it valid. A search warrant can be rendered invalid where it is improperly obtained, and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches. Under the Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure, a search warrant may be regarded invalid under the following circumstances:
- Where there is an ulterior motive behind the warrant, like to settle personal scores
- If a search warrant is issued based on unreliable information, its validity can be brought to question
- Where the Judge or Magistrate is not neutral and has personal links to the matter
- A vague search warrant subject to any possible interpretation is invalid, as a search warrant is expected to be as specific as possible.
What is an Arrest Warrant in Alaska?
An arrest warrant is a legal order signed by a Judge or Magistrate that allows a law enforcement officer to bring a suspect into custody for a crime that the suspect has committed. Arrest Warrants are issued in Alaska for many reasons, like felonies such as assault and murder. It may also be issued for misdemeanors like vandalism, nonpayment of fines, or disturbing the peace. Under the Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure, an arrest warrant emanates from the court upon complaint, where there is reason to believe that the person named on the warrant has committed an offense. Rule 4 provides that an Arrest Warrant must contain the following information:
- The name of the defendant or a description where the name is unavailable
- Description of the offense charged in the complaint
The warrant shall then be directed to a person authorized by law to execute the warrant. By this, they are expected to bring the person named in the warrant before a Judge or Magistrate without delay. In Alaska, an arrest warrant may be executed anywhere within the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska. An officer need not be with the warrant at the time of the arrest but shall inform the defendant of the offense they are charged with and that a warrant has been issued. Under Alaska Statute 12.25.035, a law enforcement officer may effect an arrest without a warrant in certain circumstances. Some circumstances where an arrest without warrant is possible includes:
- Where a judicial officer is not immediately available
- Where there is a chance that the offender may damage property if not arrested immediately
- Where a crime, whether a misdemeanor or felony, is committed before a police officer
- If the officer has reason to believe, based on witness testimony or factual evidence, that the accused person has committed a crime or intends to do so in future
- Where the offender is accused of driving under the influence
What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in Alaska?
A Child Support Arrest is an order from a Judge or Magistrate permitting the arrest of a person for nonpayment of child support. The effect of this warrant is to bring the person before the court, to resolve the matter. All 50 states in the US have laws that help custodial parents recover child support amounts that they are owed. In Alaska, the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) of the Alaska State Department of Revenue is charged with helping custodial parents enforce child support orders.
Interested persons who need the help of the CSSD may visit their physical location at 655 F Street or send a mail to their mailing address at 550 W 7th Ave, Suite 310. Individuals may also reach the CSSD via phone on (907) 269-6900 or Fax: (907) 787-3220. Physical appointments can be scheduled from Mondays to Thursdays, between the hours of 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The division handles call requests between the hours of 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM from Mondays to Thursdays. During holidays, the Alaska Child Support Services Division is closed.
What is an Alaska Bench Warrant?
A Bench Warrant is an order from a sitting Judge or Magistrate authorizing law enforcement officers to arrest a person. It is regarded as a Bench Warrant because the Judge or magistrate issues it while presiding on the courtroom bench. In Alaska, a Judge or Magistrate often issues a Bench Warrant when a person has ignored an order or notice to appear and failed to show up in court on a specific date. A bench warrant may also be issued where a person has violated the court rules.
The difference between a bench warrant and an arrest warrant is that the former is used to arrest a person in contempt of court, while an arrest warrant is for a person suspected of committing a crime. A bench warrant may be issued for many reasons. Some of them are:
- Not showing up for jury duty
- Failure to obey a restraining order
- Refusal to obey a court ruling to pay child support
- Failing to comply with bail conditions
- Ignoring a subpoena to testify before a court
Law enforcement agencies are expected to treat bench warrants like any other warrant and bring the subject of the warrant before the court. The accused person will then have to prove that the action that led to the issuing of the bench warrant was not in contempt of court. A person who is facing a bench warrant is advised to contact a skilled defense attorney. Such an attorney will help them to understand the charges and assist with any defenses that can help. An attorney will also help to initiate processes to help quash the bench warrant.
In Alaska, What is Failure to Appear?
Failure to Appear (FTA) is a crime that arises where a person fails to show up for their court appearance. Under Alaska State Law, a person is said to have committed the crime of Failure to Appear in the following circumstances:
- Where the person has been released on bail by the provisions of AS 12.30 and misses subsequent court dates
- They know they are expected to appear before a judicial officer or court on a specified date and fails to do so
Such a person may raise a defense that circumstances beyond control prevented them from appearing before the court at the expected time. The person must further contact the court orally and in writing once it is possible to do so. Failure to Appear may attract the forfeiture of any security given to secure their bail. Where the defendant fails to appear, in order to avoid prosecution, the FTA will be treated as a felony if the initial charge is a felony. Same also, where the initial charge is a misdemeanor, the Failure to Appear doubles as another misdemeanor charge. However, in Alaska, Senate Bill 91 has now made most Failure to Appear charges mere violations.
How Long Do You Have to Stay in Jail for a Warrant For Missing Court in Alaska?
A person who missed their court hearing may have a bench warrant issued for their arrest. Such a warrant directs law enforcement to take them into custody and hold them in jail until a court hearing. Under Alaska State Law, if the charge is a felony, missing a court appearance is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It may also attract a maximum fine of $50,000. For a misdemeanor offense, nonappearance is a Class A misdemeanor that may attract a jail sentence of up to a year or a maximum fine for the misdemeanor. The SB 91 Bill further creates a new violation-level offense that attracts a fine of up to $1000 and applies when a defendant contacts the court within 30 days of missing court.
In Alaska, What is Failure to Pay?
Under the Alaska Court System, persons may be ordered to pay fines or restitution by the court. Upon Failure to Pay, the court or the victim may seize the person’s assets in order to satisfy the debt. § 12.55.051 of the Alaska Statutes is concerned with enforcing fines and restitution. The court may, by this law, order the defendant to show why they should not be imprisoned for Failure to Pay. Where the payment is a condition of the defendant’s probation, the court may revoke the probation.
Under this section, failure to pay may also attract a term of imprisonment, not exceeding a day for every $50 of the portion of fine or restitution left unpaid, or one year, whichever is shorter. However, where the court finds out that the defendant made efforts to pay but was unable to, they may not be imprisoned for their inability to pay. For Failure to Pay Child Support, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may suspend the offender’s license.
What is a No-Knock Warrant in Alaska?
In Alaska, a No-Knock Warrant is a type of warrant issued by a Judge or Magistrate, authorizing law enforcement to enter a person’s residence or premises without first announcing their appearance. A Judge or Magistrate may, at their discretion, issue a No-Knock Warrant where:
- There is reasonable suspicion by the police that announcing it would be dangerous.
- Where it may result in the suspect destroying evidence
Before issuing No-Knock Warrants, Judges must bear in mind the Fourth Amendment, which protects the rights of citizens from unreasonable searches. As a result, this type of warrant is not granted without probable cause.