What is a Warrant?

What is a Warrant

A warrant can be issued for any number of reasons but if there is a warrant for your arrest then you need to understand what is going to happen.  If the police have charged you with a crime, even it is only a misdemeanor or traffic ticket you are given a date to appear in court.  If you miss that court date then the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.  That is just one example of how you can get a warrant.  Warrants are essentially special permission to search or detain someone.  Let’s look closer at how they work.

The 4th Amendment

There are all kinds of different situations where a warrant can be issued, typically warrants are issued by a judge giving the police permission to arrest or search the property of a suspect.  The Fourth Amendment was written to protect citizens against unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement so warrants aren’t handed out in every case.  The police or the prosecutor’s office must show “probably cause” and they must take an oath, describe what they are looking for and why they expect it to be found on your property.  Here is how the Fourth Amendment works.

Types of Warrants

Arrest Warrant: This is the most common type of warrant and once it is issued by a judge or judicial officer then the police have permission to arrest you.  Arrest warrants come after there is reason to believe that you have committed a crime.  The warrant must be specific about who is being charged and what the charges are.

Search Warrant:  Search warrants are issued by a judge and it gives the police permission to search a specific piece of property looking for evidence of a crime and those findings will be used in a court of law.  Again, law enforcement must demonstrate probable cause for searching a person or their property and they are granted based on a sworn affidavit given by a police officer.

Bench Warrants:  Lastly, bench warrants are issued when you fail to appear for a summons from the court.  Bear in mind that you don’t have to be the defendant to have a bench warrant issued.  If you were subpoenaed to testify in court and don’t show up the judge has the power to issue a bench warrant to compel you to show up.  While bench warrants aren’t as serious as an arrest warrant you can still find yourself in a jail cell.

Warrants need to be taken seriously and if you have any kind of warrant, be it search or arrest then it is time to contact an attorney.  You want to make sure that your rights are protected and a criminal attorney can help make sure they are.