Many times, friends from other states are visiting Colorado temporarily, and encounter police while here. They receive a charge for a crime and are told to be in court at a future date. We are asked whether the person must come back to Colorado to appear in court, or if they should just blow it off and not worry about it. With a Failure to Appear in the Colorado court, you may run the risk of being arrested and having an Extradition case filed against you in your home state. Learn more about the Extradition Process and a Govenor’s Warrant.
The Type of Crime Matters For Extradition
Whether you are required to personally appear in a Denver Court depends on the type of crime. For felony crimes like Assault in the Second Degree or Menacing, you must personally come to court with your criminal defense lawyer. Otherwise, you will face Extradition back to Colorado. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor like Harassment or Disorderly conduct, your attorney can usually appear for you, without you needing to come back to Colorado. Most municipal (city) courts like Westminster, Arvada and Lone Tree, will not require you to come and a lawyer can do all the work for you. In all cases, you will need to sign paperwork indicating your agreement to enter a plea.
Warrant for Your Arrest – Can be Seen from Anywhere
If you decide not to hire a lawyer and not return to Arapahoe County or Jefferson County, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. You will be a fugitive from justice and have a Failure to Appear (FTA). With felony charges, the government would try and extradite you from another state. Extradition can be very expensive and will require a lengthy trip back to Colorado in a jail van. For misdemeanor cases, the warrant will only have statewide extradition, and the government will usually not come after you. With a misdemeanor sexual offense, like Unlawful Sexual Contact, they may consider tracking you down. Either way, a warrant on your criminal background will look terrible when you are job searching or if you get charged with a criminal case in your home state. Being a fugitive from justice, having an FTA, and being extradited to Colorado also looks bad.
Driver’s License Put on Hold
If your charges are for a traffic matter in Adams County or Elbert County, like a DUI – Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol, or even speeding, Colorado will contact your home state which is a “compact” state with Colorado. Then, your home state will put a hold on your driver’s license and you will not be able to renew your driver’s license at home until you travel to Colorado and resolve the traffic charge here. It is terribly inconvenient and can hurt your chances here of a good resolution of your case. Judges get upset when you only come back to deal with your charge so you can get your license renewed at home. They see this as irresponsible. If you face Extradition, the judge will hold it against you.
Future Travel to Colorado Some Day, or Out of Country Travel?
Even if the government chooses not to extradite you, with a Colorado warrant, you can never return to Colorado. If you do, you will be arrested. We have even seen people with warrants caught at the airport in Denver as they were here only for a moment to change planes. The government runs the passenger manifest on a flight coming to Denver for Warrants. When you get off the plane, the Denver Police Department will be waiting for you and arrest you. You will miss your connecting flight. An additional problem arises when you want to travel to another country, like Canada. They may not allow you into their country when you have an outstanding warrant in the United States
In the end, it is always best to resolve your Colorado criminal charges, even if you are from another state. Never ignore your responsibility to address the charges against you, or you may face a costly Extradition by the State of Colorado. If for some reason you can’t make it here, consider hiring an aggressive Colorado criminal defense law firm like the O’Malley and Sawyer to defend your reputation.