What Do I Need to Know if I am an Out of State Defendant in Orange County?

  • Post last modified:July 9, 2024

Whether the local state officials can arrest you as an out-of-state defendant is dependent on various factors, but the short answer is usually; yes, they can. This is true if you miss court dates, ignore the civil or criminal charge, the severity of the infraction, etc.

There are differences from state to state, and many of them depend on exactly why you have been charged civilly or criminally. If you have committed a felony crime, you most likely will be arrested in the state you are in. For most misdemeanor crimes, however, many states will not arrest you nor extradite you for the crime. If you have a sexually related misdemeanor though, things may go differently. A bench warrant could be executed for you by the authorities that are holding you. You need to know that the real answer to the whole matter is unfortunately that “it depends”.

In California (as in many states), jurisdiction is relatively simple. The officers have the right to arrest you in the current state you are in. If you are arrested in California, then the state authorities usually have the right to arrest and hold you in custody for the crime.

If the crime is serious enough, or of a certain type (such as misdemeanor sexual offenses), then they can issue a state bench warrant and hold you. They will only incarcerate you locally, and work with the other state to extradite you. All the investigation and prosecution will be done by the state that issued the warrant.

Since this situation many times does not have a straightforward answer, you must consult with a Long Beach Law firm that is adept in working with out-of-state defendants. This is, of course, highly pertinent if you are to be defended criminally! Being charged from out of state is serious, and severe consequences can occur such as extradition and jail time, so the advice of an aggressive California law firm is mandatory for your legal protection.

How Will I Be “Served” and How Can That Possibly Help Me?

First, you must be “served” to be an out-of-state defendant. Exactly what is Service?

“Service” or “serving” is when someone, usually a court-appointed representative or an officer of the law, gives a copy of your official court papers, the charges made against you, and an order to go to court. “Service” lets you know:

  • What you are being charged with, and what you must defend.
  • When and where the trial or court appearance will be.
  • What you are facing and defending yourself against.

Being in California, you must be served as the defendant in California unless:

  • You are being sued about a property located in California, and the owner does not live in California.
  • You had a car accident in California, and the owner or driver of the other car does not live in California.

These are simple examples, and many legal variables come into play.

Once you are served legally, the server must fill out a “Proof of Service” form. The Proof of Service tells the court you were served, and when, where, and how you were served.

Being served correctly as an out-of-state defendant is very important to your case. The summons and complaint must be served to you, as the defendant, within three years after the action has commenced against you. If you believe that you were not served properly, you, or preferably your lawyer, can go down to the courthouse and get a copy of the proof of service from the records department. Identify the details of the service (where the services allegedly took place, the description of the person served, etc.) Your lawyer will know if it was done correctly if it hasn’t it could help your case.

What Can Happen If the Process Server Can’t Serve you, or Find You?

Again, a lot of legal variables come into play here, but the simple answer to your question is that the court case against you may just continue without you. Evidence is brought forth without a rebuttal or defense from you and a verdict may be issued.

Indeed, the gears of justice grind slowly, but while criminal, civil, and family law courts take time, the family law and civil timeline feature a process that requires you to receive notice that legal action is taking place, not a trip to jail by law enforcement. What happens if a process server can’t serve you? Things can take even longer and be assured the courts don’t wait forever.

Overall, it is not in your best interests to avoid being served. Process servers must show that they made reasonable attempts to serve papers to you in person, but the next step is getting a judge to permit additional serving methods such as service by Special Court Order, Posting and Mailing, or Publication, just to name a few.

Your Long Beach Lawyer will be invaluable in guiding you through this process but knowing what you are up against is always better than letting things move ahead without you being defended properly.

Can I Be Extradited from California as an Out of State Defendant?

California, along with every other state except South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi, has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (“UCEA”). So again, the simple answer is yes you can.

While California typically does not extradite people on misdemeanor warrants, the local law enforcement may still hold you. You, as the defendant, would typically remain in custody while this question is resolved. Extradition is usually for criminal cases, but don’t take your chances with the courts.

You should know what you are fighting, get ahead of it, and get the best professional advice you can as soon as possible.

Being an Out of State Defendant, What Should I Do First to Protect Myself and My Rights?

Whether you are the defendant in a misdemeanor or criminal case, you must obtain the best defense as soon as you can. The Long Beach law offices of Jerry Nicholson have been defending out-of-state defendants with over 37 years of experience.

Consult with them as soon as you can, and don’t put your future at risk!