What Is A Warrant?
The word “warrant” has been around for more than 600 years. It is included in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution where the requirement for probable cause is set forth to protect citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures. As early as the 14th Century, a warrant referred to being granted permission from a superior that gave the person executing the warrant protection from blame or responsibility for the authorized actions. This definition adequately describes what a warrant means today.
The various types of warrants are written documentation that a law enforcement officer has the authority to do something that is a protected act. For example, in the United States, random searches of our homes and bodies are not allowed without probable cause. Law enforcement officers can only act without a warrant when someone is caught in the act of committing a crime or when evidence of a crime is in full view.
Different Types of Warrants
Three types of warrants are issued in California including a search warrant, arrest warrant, and bench warrant. All types of warrants require probable cause before they can be issued. Probable cause is a reasonable belief that the circumstances are as they are being presented to the judge by the DA, law enforcement, or other officials who are requesting the warrant.
Different types of warrants are used based on what is being authorized. The purpose of having a judge sign off on different kinds of warrants is to insert someone who is neutral into the decision-making process and to ensure that the search or arrest is lawful.
If the warrant authorizes a search, it is generally executed quickly. If an arrest warrant is issued for a serious crime, law enforcement will actively search for the person.
What is a Search Warrant?
Law enforcement can’t search you, your car, your home, or your business without a warrant unless you grant permission, or the search is incidental to your arrest. Only two types of warrants put you at risk of immediate arrest although a search warrant can lead to an arrest, the outcome depends on what is found during the search.
A search warrant can be issued for a variety of reasons that involve looking for evidence of a crime including possession of child pornography, stolen property, property that was used while committing a felony, and property that is evidence of a crime, or of who committed the crime, including the weapon, getaway vehicle, mask or wig, and other evidence.
They may also search for a property that is intended to be used to commit a crime. Special rules apply to property held by special classes of people including clergy, psychotherapists, attorneys, doctors to protect confidentiality and privacy requirements applicable to those occupations.
The prosecutor’s office or law enforcement requests the search warrant, but a judge or judicial officer must issue it.
Even with a valid search warrant, there are some complexities to the law that a Los Angeles warrant attorney could use to have a search that violates the rules thrown out.
What Does an Arrest Warrant Mean?
An arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement to place you under arrest because you are suspected of committing a crime. A grand jury may have reviewed the evidence and decided there is probable cause to arrest you.
It is uncommon for the person to know an arrest warrant has been issued before they are arrested. When the arrest warrant is issued, law enforcement will look for you and arrest you when they find you, whether that is at home, work, or another place. If you have minor children in your custody and no other adults are present to take care of the children, your children will be taken to Child Protective Services.
If the crime is rather minor, a letter demanding you to appear at a certain date and time may be sent instead of using law enforcement resources to hunt you down and arrest you.
What Is a Bench Warrant?
Although being the subject of all types of warrants is not desirable, a bench warrant is the best of the bunch. Generally, bench warrants are issued when someone fails to pay parking fines or appears in traffic court, commits a misdemeanor, or misses a court date including when you are subpoenaed to testify.
Once arrested, bail will be set and if you can’t come up with the bail, you’ll be held in custody until your court date. Bench warrants can be issued in civil and criminal cases.
How an Attorney Can Help?
An attorney may be able to help you with all types of warrants. There are specific rules that must be followed when the warrant is issued and others that relate to how the warrant is executed. Flaws in any step of the process can cause the warrant to fail.
If the search is deemed unlawful, the fruits of the search including evidence of your guilt can be ruled inadmissible. If statements that led to the issuance of the warrant were false, the warrant can be questioned and potentially quashed.
If you are arrested or a search warrant is issued for your property, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney to assist you.