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Warrant Definition

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Warrant Definition

A warrant is an order giving law enforcement authorization to take a particular action. The type of action the authorized agency can take depends on the type of warrant given.

What Is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is an order from a judge that authorizes law enforcement to arrest an individual for an alleged crime he committed. The warrant is also called a warrant for arrest.

Before an arrest warrant is issued, the district attorney or a law enforcement officer must present evidence of probable cause for the arrest. Probable cause for an arrest means that the local law enforcement entity has reason to believe the person that they want to arrest committed the crime.

The arrested warrant gives law enforcement officers limited authority to enter a person’s home to make an arrest.

What Is a Search Warrant?

A search warrant is an order from a judge giving law enforcement officials the right to search a specific place for items related to a crime. To obtain a warrant to search a residence, law enforcement officers must show that there is probable cause for searching the residence, such as a high probability of finding evidence of a crime being committed on the premises.

Is There a Warrant to Arrest Someone Who Is Not a Criminal?

Yes, bench warrants are often used to arrest someone who is not being accused of committing a specific crime. Instead, the person is being arrested for violating a rule of the court. Typically, a judge issues a bench warrant while court is in session and without any prompting from law enforcement, which is why it is called a bench warrant. The judge gives law enforcement the authority to make an arrest from the bench and not from the judge’s chambers.

A bench warrant is generally issued for:

  • Failure to appear in court
  • Failure to appear for jury

A bench warrant can be a criminal or a civil warrant.

Should I Contact a Lawyer If I Receive a Warrant?

Warrants are highly complicated. Law enforcement may have a reason to search your home or arrest you. However, just because a warrant has been issued against you does not mean that you are guilty of a crime. Talk to a criminal attorney if a warrant has been issued against you. A lawyer can explain the warrant to you and make sure that the execution of the warrant does not violate your rights.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-10-2015 03:31 PM PDT

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