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How old warrants can cause present-day problems

Some people might be taken into custody in Maryland and around the country even after having a warrant dismissed, and this may be the result of a clerical error. This happened to one man who was detained in New Orleans on a 25-year-old warrant that had been dismissed. The same thing happened to him multiple times in relation to a bad check conviction from 2006. He said he had lost jobs and his marriage as a result.

The errors are usually related to minor matters, such as unpaid fees or missed court appearances. They happen because a clerk may miss an entry or because of inconsistencies between departments. Another man was taken into custody years after he was in a car accident. Although he had agreed to a plea bargain in an armed robbery case in which he served two years, the warrant still appeared to be active for law enforcement.

The FBI has a national database of criminal records and these warrants may eventually make it into this database. While the FBI attempts to maintain accuracy, it still must rely on information they get from local records. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no recourse for people erroneously detained if it is an honest error by law enforcement.

An attorney may be able to assist a person who has been wrongly detained or who is facing charges. A strategy for criminal defense might involve looking into whether the person's rights were violated in any way. For example, if law enforcement did not have a warrant, evidence could be dismissed. Another possibility may be a plea bargain. This deal with the prosecution can allow a person to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

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