Does a Magistrate Have the Discretion to Refuse to Issue Criminal Process When Probable Cause Exists?

If I had to answer the question in the title of this post in the briefest possible way, I would say: not usually. But there’s a lot of uncertainty and nuance packed into that short answer. This post gets into the details.

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“Updating” a Criminal Summons

What happens when a magistrate issues a criminal summons for a defendant but the defendant can’t be located until after the court date on the summons has passed? For example, suppose that Magistrate Morales issues a criminal summons on January 1. The summons orders Defendant Daniels to come to court on February 1 to answer a charge of misdemeanor larceny of his neighbor’s lawnmower. No law enforcement officer is able to locate and serve Daniels until February 14, when Officer Oxendine spots Daniels enjoying a Valentine’s Day meal out with his girlfriend. What’s the officer supposed to do?

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Officers and NCAWARE

NCAWARE is an acronym for the North CArolina WArrant REpository. It is the computer system that is used by judicial officials, usually magistrates, to create criminal process documents such as arrest warrants and criminal summonses. The documents are stored permanently in the system, and can be viewed by anyone with access to the system. The … Read more