When a crime occurs out of the view of police, the agency will conduct a criminal investigation to determine who committed the criminal act. During or after an investigation, law enforcement may arrest a person via a warrant for arrest.

What Is a Warrant for Arrest?

A warrant for arrest, also known as an arrest warrant, is an order signed by a judge authorizing police to arrest an individual. A judge makes the decision to sign a warrant based on the probable cause the police or district attorney provides to support the warrant.

What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a reasonable belief that the suspect has committed a crime. It is also a reasonable belief he will commit a crime. To show probable cause and obtain a warrant, police must have sufficient knowledge the suspect committed a crime based on evidence such as DNA or witness statements.

The probable cause provided by the police cannot be based on suspicion or unsubstantial evidence.

Is a Warrant for Arrest the Same as a Bench Warrant?

Not exactly. Both types of warrants lead to the person listed in the warrant being arrested. However, a bench warrant is issued by a judge for a violation of a court rule, such as failing to appear in court or missing jury duty.

What If I Did Not Commit a Crime?

An arrest warrant can still be issued for you even if you did not commit a crime. Sometimes a warrant for arrest can be issued for the wrong person. For example, if a person steals someone’s identity and commits a crime using that identity, the other person may be arrested.

Can an Arrest Warrant Expire?

An arrest warrant will become an outstanding arrest warrant instead of expiring. An outstanding warrant simply means it is valid and a suspect can be arrested at any time.

Should I Talk to an Attorney about a Warrant for Arrest?

A warrant for arrest is a serious because you are facing a criminal charge. Getting rid of the warrant may involve turning yourself into police. You want to talk to a criminal attorney to understand more about your legal options.