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Is Ocean County giving fugitives a free pass?

It is generally true that you cannot outrun the police. If you abscond from a location where you are facing a criminal charge, the warrant will most likely follow you wherever you may go. Therefore, if you get pulled over for a traffic violation a few years after running from criminal charges, and are now several states away, you may find yourself being arrested and held on the outstanding warrant.

One goal of the warrant system is to make sure that fugitives cannot avoid participation in the justice system simply by vanishing over state lines. Instead of running away from consequences, criminal defendants may do better to seek criminal defense counsel and determine how to resolve their cases in the most favorable way possible.

However, it was recently reported that the prosecutor's office in Ocean County, New Jersey, does not currently seek extradition for most absconders who are arrested elsewhere on outstanding Ocean County warrants.  According to the report, extradition from other states can cost up to $10,000 per person, and the county simply doesn't have the budget to pay that expense.  So, for now, the prosecutor's office relies on something similar to a sliding scale to determine who they will seek to extradite back to face charges.  

Those wanted for serious allegations that carry long-term prison sentences, such as murder, robbery, and sexual assault, are far more likely to face extradition than those who are wanted for lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors.  The Ocean County prosecutor stated that in a time with shrinking budgets, authorities have to pick and choose which fugitives they really want to see in court.

Nonetheless, if you are facing any kind of criminal charges in Ocean County, serious or otherwise, it may not be the best idea to wait for the authorities to track you down.  Instead, the better course of action may be to seek professional legal advice from someone who can guide you through the process in order to address the charges now rather than waiting for the case to come back to haunt you later.

Source: Asbury Park Press, "Fugitives' free pass: NJ prosecutors say it's too costly to extradite suspects in minor crimes," Nicholas Huba, March 12, 2014

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