Orders for Arrest OFA and Mecklenburg County Warrants: What Happens if I have NC Warrants?
By Bill Powers, NBTA Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist and Co-Author of the Criminal Law Book: NC DWI Quick Reference Guide and former President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice
If you have questions about NC warrants or outstanding warrants in NC, our criminal defense lawyers are here to help. It’s important to understand and address any outstanding legal process, whether it be a Criminal Summons in North Carolina, an Order for Arrest (OFA) or Warrant for Arrest or “Arrest Warrant.” There are subtle, but important differences between each of them and how different jurisdictions in North Carolina handle each of them.
We encourage people to face allegations of criminal charges head on, whether they be for misdemeanor or felony charges. Sometimes outstanding warrants in NC are due to not knowing about the charges. Running from legal process and failing to properly address a case, in a timely fashion, can make a bad situation worse. It can result in higher bonds and longer stretches of jail time – Bill Powers
The defense lawyers at our law firm want to provide answers to your questions involving:
- What is an OFA in North Carolina?
- Does it matter if it’s Felony vs. Misdemeanor?
- Can I strike NC Warrants for Arrest?
- What are Warrants in NC?
- Are Mecklenburg County Warrants different?
- What happens if I missed court?
- Is there a warrant for my arrest?
- Forfeiture of Bond
- Governor’s Warrants in Criminal Defense cases
Question 1: What is an OFA? Is an OFA different from NC Warrants? What happens with Arrest Warrants in NC? Am I required to go to jail?
OFA in a North Carolina criminal defense case is an acronym:
If you missed your court date for criminal charges in NC, the Judge may in certain circumstances issue an Order for Arrest. If there was a bond posted at the time of your initial release from jail, the Judge may also, when legally appropriate, issue an Order of Forfeiture for failing to appear. An Order for Arrest or “OFA” is technically different than other types of warrants in NC. Generally speaking, NC Warrants for Arrest start the legal process. They are often the original charging documents, and may be in addition to a citation, ticket, or “Uniform Citation.”
In that way, they are similar to a criminal summons in North Carolina. Warrants set out the name of the accused and general allegations of criminal charges. They instruct law enforcement officials to arrest the person facing the misdemeanor or felony charges. A criminal summons is served on the Defendant, but there is no arrest authorized under the law.
Experienced criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte sometimes refer to an Order for Arrest in Mecklenburg County as an OFA / OOF (Order for Arrest / Order of Forfeiture). By the way, FTA in criminal matters stands for “Failure to Appear.”
Orders for Arrest are technically different from Arrest Warrants or Warrants for Arrest in North Carolina, As a practical matter, if you’re facing criminal charges in NC, it doesn’t much matter. In the end, police officers and law enforcement officials will be looking serve the outstanding process, take you into custody, arrest you, and take you to jail.
Question 2: Does it matter if the criminal charges are Felony vs. Misdemeanor?
Not really. Clearly, felony charges are more serious criminal allegations with the associated consequences. Depending on the type of criminal case in North Carolina, and the local bond policy, the terms for release can be substantial for NC felony charges. Mecklenburg County warrants and the process of charging someone with a criminal offense have changed greatly since December 1, 2017.
That is not to say misdemeanor criminal charges are not serious. Under Chapter 14: Criminal Laws in North Carolina, there are times where you can be locked up for misdemeanor allegations. And like felony criminal charges, you may have to post a bond to be released from jail.
A lot depends on the type of the criminal charges, whether they are felony or misdemeanor allegations, your prior criminal record or criminal history, and whether you are determined to be a flight risk.
Question 3: How are Mecklenburg County Warrants handled since December 1, 2017? When is a Criminal Summons issued?
It would be a mistake to assume other judicial districts in North Carolina have applied the amended statutes in such a broad, far-reaching fashion. Rather than traditional Mecklenburg County Warrants, there is now a “preference” for a summons over a warrant.
The current reading of the NC Criminal Summons law essentially precludes NC Warrants for Arrest in a large number, if not a majority, of criminal of matters in Charlotte. The North Carolina Criminal Laws read, in relevant part:
“UNLESS A SUBSTANTIAL LIKELIHOOD EXISTS THAT THE DEFENDANT WILL NOT RESPOND TO A SUMMONS” (no emphasis added) NC Warrants are not proper. That’s true for Mecklenburg County warrants too.
FREE Case Evaluation for Mecklenburg County Warrants – CALL NOW: 704-342-4357
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