A warrant is a formal order issued by a court or judge authorizing or directing
a law enforcement officer to take a specific action such as an arrest,
a search, or a seizure. The most common type of warrants are
arrest warrants, bench warrants, and search warrants.
An arrest warrant is an order signed and issued by a judge directing law
enforcement officers to arrest and bring to court the person named in
the warrant. Prior to issuing an arrest warrant, a police officer, district
attorney, or an alleged victim must give a sworn statement under penalty
of perjury stating that the person named in the warrant (the accused person)
committed a crime. Arrest warrants must be based on probable cause. The
judge or magistrate signing the arrest warrant must believe that the crime
was committed by the person named in the arrest warrant. Arrest warrants
give the arresting officer the authority to enter a home or dwelling in
which the suspect lives or place of business as long as there is reason
to believe the suspect will be in the home, dwelling, or place of business.
An arrest warrant must contain the following:
- The defendant's name, if known;
- The offense charged;
- The duty of the arresting officer to bring the defendant before the judge
- Bail amount of the offense;
- The date and time of issuance;
- The city or county where it was issued;
- The name of the judge along with his or her signature;
- The name of the court.
If you or someone you know suspects that there is an outstanding arrest
warrant, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you
with the arrest warrant. Contacting a criminal defense attorney earlier
rather than later is critical. A seasoned criminal attorney may be able
to walk you right into court and recall the arrest warrant, then walk
you right out of court without posting bail. You would then be released
on your own recognizance (promise to appear in court), thus saving you
thousands of dollars on your bail.
A bench warrant is a court order issued directly by a judge from the bench
(the judge's seat in the courtroom) to a law-enforcement officer to
arrest and bring an individual before the court for failing to appear
in court for the following reasons:
- Failure to appear in court as ordered by the judge
- Failure to appear in court after being given a traffic citation and promising
to appear in court
- Failure to appear in court after being released from custody on his or
her promise to appear in court (commonly referred to as "OR"
or "Own Recognizance")
- Failure to appear in court as requested by his or her attorney or the judge
- Failure to pay fines or restitution as ordered by the court
- Failure to appear in court for sentencing, or surrender for jail time
- Failure to obey a court order, such as a Criminal Protective Order or Stay
Away Order (usually ordered in domestic violence cases)
- Failure to appear in court for a hearing or trial
- Failure to obey a subpoena after being properly served
- Failure to appear for jury duty, and
- Failure to appear in court after an Indictment or Information has been
filed by the court.
In some cases, a judge may set a bail on the bench warrant or may order
that you remain in jail without bail. If you are stopped by the police
and there is an outstanding bench warrant, you could be taken to jail.
You could go to jail for something as simple as failing to pay a fine
or missing a court date for a progress report. That is why it is important
to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as soon as you
learn there is an outstanding bench warrant.
A written order signed by a judge / magistrate upon a showing of probable
cause to believe that items associated with criminal activity will be
found at a specific location and directing a law enforcement officer to
search for those items in that location and seize them as evidence, if
found, and bring them to the judge / magistrate. A search warrant cannot
be issued without probable cause supported by an affidavit, naming or
describing the places and persons to be searched and specifically describing
the property or things to be seized.
The laws and rules governing arrest warrants, bench warrants, and search
warrants are specialized and complex. Consulting with a skilled and knowledgeable
criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles is important for a favorable resolution
of your legal issue.