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Ghost warrants pose problems for some citizens

Texas residents can face serious consequences as a result of inaccurate warrants. One man spent an hour in a cruiser after a warrant for a charge dismissed 25 years ago came up in a police database. The same man was taken into custody and jailed in 2014, 2015 and 2017 based on a conviction for writing bad checks in 2006. While his probation period had ended, he still spent months in custody despite the fact that no additional charges were pursued.

According to the Marshall Project, ghost or sticky warrants are especially problematic in the South. This is because many jurisdictions rely on paper records and lack sophisticated methods of communicating with each other. Many of the warrants are related to traffic tickets or other minor charges that were never dropped. In some cases, however, ghost warrants were the result of a clerical error.

They may still exist even when a judge orders that the warrant be destroyed. Those who are familiar with the problem say that it is a symptom of thousands of jurisdictions at various levels running a variety of databases. If a person is jailed on an old charge, he or she could face a raft of personal and professional consequences.

An individual who is facing criminal charges is entitled to a criminal defense attorney. Legal counsel may work to have the charge dismissed or reduced. If the defendant is taken into custody by mistake, legal counsel may be able to get a release granted right away. This may be done by showing that the defendant already had the charge dismissed or served his or her sentence in the matter.

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