A warrant is an authorization, typically granted by a judge, that allows law enforcement officials to take a certain actions that they otherwise might not be allowed.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. This means that police can’t just storm into your house without a clear reason and look for illegal activity or arrest you.
Warrants are typically issued for one of three reasons:
- To allow police to search for and/or collect evidence
- To arrest someone accused of a crime when there is sufficient evidence to support that person’s role in a crime
- To require someone to appear in court before a judge
The most common types of warrants are: Search warrants, arrest warrants and bench warrants.
If you are facing criminal charges, a criminal defense attorney can explain how your case may be affected by warrants. To connect with a local attorney, simply fill out the free online evaluation form on this page or call 877-445-1059.
Search warrants are required under the protections of the Fourth Amendment. For a search warrant to be obtained by the police there must be:
Sufficient reasons for the search: A warrant may not be issued unless there is sufficient evidence, reason or rationale for the search. Search warrants may not be issued randomly.
Stated object of the search: A search warrant must specifically declare what the police are looking for.
Location of the search: Search warrants must specify the areas to be searched. For example, a search warrant may include an individual’s house, but a separate warrant may be needed to search the same person’s garage.
Search warrants can be used to collect a variety of evidence, including:
- Items: such as a weapon or other object used to commit a crime
- Evidence: Fibers, DNA, clothing, fingerprints, blood samples or other material that might tie someone to a crime
In most cases, evidence collected without a search warrant may not be used in court.
Warrant exceptions: There are exceptions when police may conduct a search without a warrant. Those situations include, but aren’t limited to:
- Permission: Police may enter or search your property if you give them permission
- Hot pursuit: If police are in “hot” or active pursuit of a suspect they may be able to enter and search property without a warrant
- Plain view: If an object is in plain site ‒ laying on the passenger seat of a car, on a coffee table when police are legally on the premises ‒ then police may generally seize the evidence without a warrant
- Protective search: If police make an arrest, they may conduct a protective search of the person or the immediate area
A criminal defense attorney can help explain the rules pertaining to search and seizure in your state. A lawyer can also tell you about potential challenges to your arrest and the evidence brought against you in trial.
An arrest warrant calls for the arrest and appearance before a judge of a particular person accused of a particular crime.
Warrants authorize police to arrest someone on sight. Individuals with an outstanding warrant for arrest may also turn themselves in. Arrest warrants may allow for you to post bail after your arrest.
A warrant for arrest is typically issued by a judge after a request by the police or other law enforcement agency. Arrest warrants must include evidence of probable cause ‒ often in the form of a signed affidavit ‒ that a specific crime was committed by a specific person.
A warrant may also include other information, such as setting a bail following arrest.
Bench warrants: These are a variation of arrest warrants and are typically issued when someone misses an assigned court date.
While police are typically the executioners of a warrant for arrest, they cannot issue the warrants. Police, other law enforcement agencies or prosecutors are the groups that typically request warrants from judges.
Warrant for Your Arrest? Protect Your Rights! Speak with a Defense Attorney Today
People may choose to consult a criminal defense attorney in many situations, including where they:
- Are on bail after being served a warrant;
- A warrant is out for their arrest;
- They were served a search warrant;
- They believe police conducted an illegal search during their arrest; or
- A bench warrant was issued for failure to appear in court
If you are involved with any situation dealing with a warrant of any kind, consider speaking with a defense attorney today.
A criminal defense attorney can give you information about what this warrant may mean for you and your future. If you were served an arrest warrant, you may need to take certain steps or meet deadlines to protect your rights and your future. An attorney can help you with this process.
If you were arrested, and police confiscated evidence, did they follow the proper procedure? Did they obtain a search warrant? Their actions may have big impact on the result of your defense and your case. A defense lawyer can explain your rights during an arrest and let you know if there are challenges to your arrest.
To speak with a defense lawyer near you today, fill out our free online evaluation form on this page. Be sure to include any information about warrants. Or, you can call now, toll free, 877-445-1059.
Note: The above summary is not legal advice and is not all inclusive. For further information, please contact a criminal defense attorney in your area.