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What Are Arrest Warrants
Arrest warrants are documents that local law enforcement request and then have signed by a judge or magistrate. First, the police officer must convince a judge or magistrate that a crime has been committed. Once the arrest warrant is issued and signed, the police can then arrest the person named in the warrant. Typically, the arrest warrant will detail the crime that has been committed. Some even contain restrictions about where and when the person can be apprehended. Police must follow the warrant’s instructions explicitly, or it may not hold up in court later.
Types of Arrest Warrants
There are generally two types of arrest warrants. The basic arrest warrant is for when a police officer believes they know who committed a crime and wanted to arrest them based on evidence or probable cause they have collected. They contact a judge for the arrest warrant and then proceed. A bench warrant, on the other hand, is initiated by a judge after someone does not show up in court or fails to follow a court order. An example might be not paying child support or violating your probation. After the judge issues it, the police take over and actively search for the individual to arrest them.
How Police Obtain Arrest Warrants
The first step in obtaining an arrest warrant is for a police officer to file a written affidavit with a judge or magistrate. In the affidavit, they must clearly describe the crime, the evidence they have gathered, any probable cause and who they suspect of committing the crime. The judge will evaluate all the details to decide if an arrest warrant makes sense. If they agree with the information provided, they will issue a warrant and sign it. Once the judge approves it, the police are then free to follow through and arrest the person in question.
Incorrect Information in Arrest Warrants
Sometimes the information on an arrest warrant is incorrect. Errors happen and occasionally the suspect’s name is spelled wrong, or the incorrect crime is listed. When arresting a suspect, the police are obligated to show them the arrest warrant. If the person can prove they are not the individual listed in the document, then the police must go back and get a corrected version before proceeding. Sometimes, however, police fail to show the warrant to the person they are arresting, and these types of issues get worked out later after they have taken custody of the suspect.