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What is a California Arrest Warrant?

Hearing an unexpected knock at the door is likely to provoke a certain amount of trepidation and curiosity in anyone, but if the person on the other side of the door is the police, fear and anxiety are almost guaranteed to spike. While there could be a number of reasons for police to seek someone out, the most concerning possibility is when law enforcement is there to execute a search or arrest warrant.

A warrant is a document issued by a judge that authorizes the police to take some action, the most common being to arrest a person accused of a crime or to search the premises of a place to collect evidence related to an ongoing criminal investigation. Regardless of the purpose of a warrant, anyone facing such police action needs to hire a criminal defense attorney to protect their rights.

Although police have court approval to take action once a warrant is secured, there are still rules related to how the warrant was obtained and how the police executed it. These rules are particularly important when it comes to arresting warrants because a person’s liberty is at stake. If the warrant is improper in some way, a criminal defense attorney can use this information to get the person released from police custody or even cause the charges to be dropped.

When Will an Arrest Warrant Be Issued?

There are two legal procedures the state can use to acquire an arrest warrant from a judge. The first, and by far the most common, is when the prosecutor and/or investigating officer appear before the court and directly ask for an arrest warrant. The government must convince the judge there is probable cause for a specific person to commit a crime. Probable cause means there is a reasonable belief a crime took place and the specified person is the offender. If the judge thinks there is enough evidence to support the request, a warrant is issued.

The second, and rarely used, option is to convene a grand jury and have it decide if there is a sufficient base to indict, or charge, a person with a crime. This procedure is typically used when the prosecutor is unsure if there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. If the grand jury decides to indict, the judge usually issues an arrest warrant in response.

California arrest warrant

When Can the Police Execute a California Arrest Warrant?

Police ordinarily execute warrants at a person’s home or work. They are permitted to use force during an attempt to arrest someone at home if they reasonably believe the person is present, and the occupants refuse to open the door. Note that police are not required to produce a copy of the arrest warrant and only need to prove they knew the warrant existed. However, they are obligated to execute the warrant within a reasonable time, and if they do not, the person may be entitled to a dismissal of the charges.

Felony arrest warrants can be acted upon at any time of the day, but the execution of misdemeanor arrest warrants is restricted to the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. unless the arrest occurs in a public place, the person is already in custody for another matter, or the warrant authorizes execution at any time. Once a person is arrested, he/she is entitled to appear before a judge “without unreasonable delay”, which usually means within 48 hours. If the time between arrest and appearance is longer, this may also justify the dismissal of charges as a violation of a person’s rights.

Consult a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

Being arrested for a criminal offense is a serious situation, and calls for the skills of an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure you are treated fairly.

The attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC represent clients in the Los Angeles area and understand what is at stake in all criminal cases. We are available to speak with you 24 hours a day. Contact us today to learn how we will fight for you.

Shaheen Manshoory
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