View Full Version : For legal eagles - question about quashing warrants

05-13-2016, 11:39 PM
So, still ironing out stupid details on my novel, and this is one I've kind of fudged but would like to get right.

MC is a prime suspect in a shooting. The gun was hers, she'd been shooting it, she had great motive and happened to be at the crime scene. She absconds, but is considered a person of interest. A warrant is issued.

A week or so later, she is in another state and the actual shooter tries to kill her. She prevails, however, and kills them. She's been on the run so has not followed news, but the original shooting victim survived and cleared her.

So, she is now in another state, having, in self-defense, killed the villain. What would have to happen for the original warrant to be quashed? Does she have get an attorney and appear in the court that issued it? Can the Sheriff's Department quash it (now that they know it wasn't her)? Can she just tell her story to the police (in the state where she was apprehended) and given the evidence supports her, be released? Would they likely keep her in the local jail while they were investigating her story (it's pretty straightforward), or would they OR her?

Any insight appreciated! Thanks!

05-14-2016, 12:42 AM
When the arrest warrant is issued, she is no longer a person of interest, but either a suspect, the accused, or the defendant, depending upon who is saying something.

You say she is charged in a shooting but that's a wide open field of possible charges, from vandalism (shooting traffic signs, for instance) to capital murder. Then you say she is "cleared," but I'm not sure of what. In shooting incidences, you can be "cleared" of the murder, and still guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm. Shooting cases are complex and involve a lot of different possible charges.

When the police first show up, they'll know she's wanted for any felonies in another state almost immediately. If there is an arrest warrant for any level of homicide, she's got problems. It's unlikely the new state is going to give her a pass on self defense until it figures out what is going on in the other state. As long as that warrant is out there, they've got at minimum a fugitive from justice charge in the new state. Until all of the charges in the original state are dismissed, the new state is going to hold her in prison, no bail option.

In theory, the original state's prosecutor should dismiss when she is cleared by the police. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen. This mess can easily take a few weeks to resolve, while she enjoys the new state's wonderful Hilton, jewelry provided, but no mints on the pillow.

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-14-2016, 12:58 AM
Oh thanks so much!! Yes, am familiar w this particular states Hilton!!�� So. .she was at the scene when the police showed. She gave then her story (w lots of holes as she was knocked out and doesn't remember) then when she finds out who was shot, she decides to run. There's evidence against her for the shooting. she would be a fugitive, right? Then yes, later she kills someone. The new state might toss her in the local pokey while she is investigated? Meanwhile optimistically, the prosecutor could drop charges (do I have that right? She would have been charged if there was an arrest warrant?) Sorry, am on phone probably not making sense! Thank you so much! It's NOT legal thriller but certainly want it plausible!!

05-14-2016, 01:01 AM
And by drop the charges, I mean for the shooting. She was a fugitive definitely so those charges may or may not be dropped? Would she get an attorney in new state to work it out?��

05-14-2016, 01:12 AM
A warrant for someone's arrest is simply a court order to find/apprehend and produce the person named within before the court. The warrant is only issued by the court upon a finding of probable cause. The warrant may be executed (the within orders complied with; the person presented to the court), or it may be quashed by the court for reasons it deems acceptable and lawful. The prosecutor is most often the party to ask the court to quash when the investigating agency has found and corroborated justifiable reason(s). It's the court's discretion whether or not she appear for the motion to quash; more than likely, she need not be present.

If probable cause was found in the original case (first state) and an extraditable felony warrant issued, it would be entered into NCIC by the investigating agency (at that point, she's no longer just a person of interest, but a suspect). If in her absence, the first shooting victim "clears" the MC, there are going to be some hard questions asked about the alleged evidence in support of "probable cause".

If the second case (shooting) in another state is deemed justifiable (self defense, etc.) she may not even be taken into formal custody, although she would be expected to cooperate in giving a statement. This assumes the first warrant has in fact been quashed/withdrawn and is so duly noted in the NCIC database. If it still appears as an active warrant, she would be held pending extradition procedures, or administrative updating/correction of the data entry.

Oops - I see I cross-posted with Jim . . . He's right, there may well be a host of related charges stemming from both events (shootings). The likelihood of of your MC seeing the inside of a cell for some short period of time is pretty good. Even administrative glitches take time to straighten out.

05-14-2016, 02:27 AM
In the first state, the primary charge would seem to be attempted murder. Attempted murder can be reduced to assault with a dangerous weapon. Because the victim is not dead, there's been no murder. So the police charge attempted murder, a felony warrant is issued, and then the victim recovers enough to say it was actually self-defense on the part of the shooter.

So the attempted murder is then dismissed or quashed, the police may still have some charges. Firing a gun has lots of issues. Even while the attempted murder warrant is in force, she is not charged as a fugitive. However, if she leaves the state, then the next state will charge her as a fugitive from justice. They have no jurisdiction over the attempted murder and the fugitive from justice charge gives the state something to hold her on. (It's usually dismissed when the defendant is extradited back to the original state.)

If the attempted murder warrant is in force when the second shooting occurs, then the police must hold her. Even if the attempted murder case has been dismissed, if it shows up in her record (it should), the police are going to more cautious and less believing of her story.

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-14-2016, 04:43 AM
Oh awesome and thank you both so much!
So, is this plausible? MC has been shooting her gun 9target, not near victim)
She is at the place where the victim is shot, though, although she doesn't know it until the police tell her.
She has no idea if she shot the victim as she was unconscious.
At the crime scene, one officer does not follow protocol, and when MC overhears that she could be a suspect, she runs.

A week or so later, MC has left Montana for Wyoming, and while there, the real shooter finds her and tries to kill her. She kills them instead. What would be awesome is if it works that the police show up where she shot the villain, they take her the station to make a statement, which she does. Before she shoots him, the real shooter confesses to MC another murder and the gun they brought to kill her was used in that murder.

I'm hoping that Montana has already cleared the warrant as the shooting vic cleared the MC, although it shows up. MC gives her statement again. Takes most of the night. I am hoping it works that there are not fugitive charges (no one knew she was in Wy) It would be very awesome if it were within the realm of plausibility if she is cleared by the next day (she is at the station the whole time.) Montana has impounded her truck but other than that, she's free to go. Is that unrealistic?

The "evidence" against her was a) her gun, which she had recently shot, and b) being at the crime scene with a sketchy presentation (head injury) so no alibi--she was clearly there. Also she had an excellent motive (just discovered the vic was having an affair with her husband.) The real shooter informs police about how worried they were about her doing something like this. Is that enough for a warrant, or would she still just be a person of interest?

Anyway, again thanks so much! Very very helpful!

05-14-2016, 09:43 PM
Assuming the first (Montana) warrant has been rendered moot by the time of the second (Wyoming) shooting, she would not face a fugitive charge. You do have a problem if she asserts in her subsequent statement that prior to the (alleged self defense) shooting the soon-to-be decedent (original "real shooter") confessed to the MC of another murder and produced the weapon used.

Why would the Wyoming authorities believe her? This is, at this point, an uncorroborated statement. Cops aren't stupid; they've got a body and two firearms on the scene. They'll hold her for as long as they can, until they can corroborate or refute everything she says.

If you don't want to string this out, consider having your MC secretly record that voluntary admission/confession made by the "real shooter" on her cell phone to offer viable and timely corroboration for her statement's assertion. Her subsequent release and the return of her truck are then likely within the next day.

Whatever you decide, try not to let the pacing flag. If your tale is flowing well, be wary of bogging it down with unnecessary tangents.

05-14-2016, 11:50 PM
Again, again thank you much! No, I don't want to get bogged down in these details. In fact, I would prefer as few as possible but I'd like the scenario to be plausible enough that it doesn't call attention to itself. So (highly optimistic, I realize) having Montana be efficient and take care of the warrant would solve a lot of problems.

On the gun issue, also don't want to create a problem but also want to make sure I take care of details appropriately. The villain shows up with a gun. MC, a boxer and a shooter, prevails in the struggle and shoots the villain. She hands the police, when they arrive, the pistol and tells them the villain showed up with it. What would happen to the pistol? If no one had a reason, would anyone link it to an earlier crime (if the MC doesn't tell them)? That would definitely work for me.

What I would LOVE is for the gun issue to then go away. Yes, the villain confesses to several other crimes (or the MC thinks the villain confesses anyway), but the MC prefers to not make that public so it works out very well to NOT say anything about any confessions. It works out better to let things lie. In a chapter or two, she finds out that the villain, who was indeed a villain, did not commit all the crimes she thought they had (villain not such a reliable confessor, had motives--protecting someone else--to not be honest.)

Anyway, don't want to get in knots over this. I just want to make sure my story is plausible, that's it. It is not a police procedural but I do want to get details right. I hate books that mess up details like that.

So...again,t hank you!

05-15-2016, 09:24 PM
Oh, so there's only the one gun? It is taken as evidence by the Wyoming authorities, checked for prints, etc., and tested (ballistics). Test results can be sent to BATF/NIBIN and checked for links to other known/reported crimes. That can be the key to linking your villain to other shootings/murders/etc.


If your MC doesn't report the villain's confession to the authorities, they won't otherwise know (unless, of course, the ballistics tests reveal something that leads them to the truth). They'll still be looking hard at her assertion of self defense, but absent any evidence to the contrary, she probably won't be charged. If something (new evidence) were to develop later that might change; a prosecutor could always present the case to a grand jury for a potential indictment. That might be more involved than you want to get; I'd advise keeping it simple.

Tweak the details as you deem fit; but in general, won't that work for you?

05-18-2016, 04:28 AM
YES! That will totally and thank you thank you thank you!! It works just fine, but I might stretch reality a teeeeeny bit.

In crime A, MC is thought to have shot someone with a gun registered to her (not required in MT but this one is.) The police have the gun. I was told it would take months get any finger prints back on it (which will be the villains, and of course hers.) But as far as my story goes, I don't need that gun anymore (sad, nice little Taurus, but I gather most firearms used in crimes don't get returned.) This is the crime that gets the arrest warrant (she was also there, not credible presentation, and she ran.)

In crime B, MC does shoot someone with a gun that had been used in a much earlier murder. She doesn't know that though. She only thinks the villain confessed to that murder and that's what she tells police. I need her warrant from MT to be dropped (shooting victim reports that villain shot her, not MC), and WY NOT to file fugitive charges, so she is cleared to go home to MT. I assume WY would send the firearm to the WY state crime lab and that could take...two or three months?? That works perfectly if it's true!

Assuming that works, if the firearm comes back confirmed for the earlier murder that MC tells the police the villain confessed to, what happens to that info? Would WY tell MT - hey we got the guy on that earlier murder- so that a MT police officer would inform her. that would be perfect.

anyway, very very grateful. just so helpful. Like I said, not a legal thriller but what I do have I want to get right. Thanks again so much!!!

05-18-2016, 08:45 PM
I think you've got it . . . Notification of ballistic test results/confirmation of involvement in other known/reported crimes would go to all invested parties. Subsequent communication between involved agencies is assured. The confirmation nicely corroborates your MC's assertion re: the villain's confession. The firearm in question would be transferred to the agency with primary jurisdiction via a documented chain of custody procedure.

This works; it's simple, accurate, and doesn't bog down the pacing.