Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

The Differences Between Active and Open Warrants

Law enforcement recently arrested 34 individuals in a drug sweep in Brockton. The complaint came from Brockton residents and necessitated that officers go undercover. While over 40 individuals were identified, more than 34 people were arrested and now face charges related to selling drugs, open warrant violations, and trafficking drugs. Massachusetts law enforcement has commented that they are not targeting users, but are focused on working their way up by identifying drug trafficking organizations and beginning to disrupt their efforts. 

Law enforcement hopes that the bust will act as a warning to drug dealers that the Brockton police department as well as the surrounding community lack tolerance for the predatory behavior of drug dealers.

The Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guards people in the United States as well as their property against searches and seizures deemed unreasonable. The limits of the Fourth Amendment are often put to the test when active or open warrants are issued by a judge authorizing law enforcement to search a person or their property or seize this property.

Under an active warrant, law enforcement immediately searches for a person. With open warrants, law enforcement have the authority to interact with the person, but these are often the result of lower emphasis encounters.

The Role of Active Warrants

Law enforcement places great importance on active warrants. Warrants of this kind are often issued after serious criminal offenses like homicides and kidnappings. Following the commission of a serious crime, a judge issues an active warrant, which might also include an arrest, bench, or search warrant. Law enforcement will then take active measures to locate the suspect. Once located, the individual is placed under arrest and taken to jail. Sometimes, active warrants are referred to as “outstanding” warrants. 

The Role of Open Warrants

Open warrants have a low priority, and law enforcement does not actively begin to search for an individual. If a person has an open warrant, the individual cannot do things like renew their driver’s license or obtain an airline ticket. Sometimes, people are not aware they have open warrants. This might occur if a person forgets about a moving violation ticket.  

The Office of the Inspector General reports that felony warrants can remain open for an indefinite period if law enforcement lacks the resources to locate someone. Warrants are closed when a person either surrenders or a direct or physical arrest happens. Warrants are also viewed as closed if they are dismissed or a warrant is returned as the result of insufficient information. Even if a person has an open warrant in a different jurisdiction, due to the internet and today’s technology, law enforcement can quickly relay these details so they are available in the jurisdiction where you now reside. As a result, while open warrants are not emphasized as highly as active warrants, you should still make sure to address them.

Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Law enforcement in Massachusetts takes all crimes seriously. If you have questions about any warrants that exist for you currently, contact an attorney for help. Contact Attorney Edward R. Molari today for assistance.