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Can you leave the country with a warrant

Fremont, CA |

a few years back i had a warrant issued to me due to failure to appear in court for a third dui. i never took care of it and now i have emergency and have to fly back into canada. i am a permanant resident here but a citizen of canada. so i was wondering if there would be any complications to flying into canada?

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Attorney answers 6


If you are a citizen you should be able to return despite the warrant but it would be better to hire an attorney to get it cleared up. If you were not a citizen of Canada the open case would keep you out of the country.


I recently had a client picked up on a bench warrant trying to fly into Toronto, Canada, however, he was not a Canadian citizen. Years ago, this would not have been a problem. However, I think their computer system database now includes such information. I know that coming back into the United States may be a problem, despite being a permanent resident.

Why not just have the warrant and the case addressed? Hire an attorney who can appear for you under so you do not have to appear in court. Court must allow attorney to appear without you (under Penal Code section 977) on a misdemeanor for such a recall. Bracher v Sup Ct. 205 Cal App 4th 1445.

Yes, the third time DUI punishment is tough, but the case is not going to go away. Moreover, since several years has passed and it is a misdemeanor, you may have a viable "Serna Motion" to have the whole case dismissed based on a deprivation of your Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Without knowing more facts about the case, it is hard to predict if such a motion would be granted, but it is something an attorney could look into and it might win.

Get the bench warrant recalled as soon as you can and then go to Canada and return with no worries. It sounds like you already have a lot to worry about with the emergency there. Good luck.


As my colleagues have recommended.....clear up the warrant.

This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply


Flying out is the least of your worries. Entering Canada and re-entering the US may be problematic. I have had clients with warrants in Los Angeles County trying to enter Canada and they were detained. Clean it up before you go. A third DUI may be a misdemeanor, if so you won't need to appear in court if you retain an attorney. Good luck.
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The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.


Getting into Canada should be no problem as he is a citizen. He must clear up bench warrant and deal with third DUI. A Serna motion might work in getting case dismissed.

Andrew Roberts (818) 597-0633/ (805) 496-7777


You should hire an attorney to clear the warrant.

While you probably will not have any difficulty returning to Canada, you might be arrested when you try to re-enter the United States.

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