What is a Warrant?
A warrant is a court order or writ that provides the sheriff or other law enforcement the authority to carry out a legal directive. Without a warrant, the legal action taken could be construed as il-legal or even a violation of a person’s rights.
There are a variety of types of legal warrants for different purposes. Each serves to provide law enforcement the tools to do their job efficiently.
An arrest warrant is used to apprehend someone suspected of a crime, usually a misdemeanor. A judge or magistrate issues the arrest warrant. There must be enough probable cause supporting the request for a warrant and the person requesting it (law enforcement agent), needs to sign an affidavit verifying its necessity. Usually, police officers or the sheriff serve warrants and collect the individuals to bring them in for detention until the hearing or trial.
If a law enforcement professional believes that a specific location or premise may hold evidence of a crime, they can contact the judge to get a search warrant. If granted, this gives them the right to enter the premises and search for evidence, regardless of whether or not the occupants are present. Again the law enforcement agent must sign an affidavit ensuring the validity of their suspicions and showing probable cause for the warrant.
Other Types of Warrants
Along with arrest and search warrants, there are some other types of warrants for specific law en-forcement purposes. Some of the most common are:
The name belies the intent of this warrant which is used in cases where a person fails to show up in court or respond to a legal citation in writing by the specified date. Not appearing in court on the date and time scheduled then becomes another offense against them.
A bench warrant is nothing more than another type of arrest warrant but used in cases where the suspect charged with an offense fails to appear in court.
Capias Warrant/Capias Pro Fine Warrant
This type of warrant is for cases where a person loses a trial or hearing and is deemed guilty, and they fail to pay the fines or perform services required by the judge at sentencing within the time-frame allotted. The only way to resolve this is to spend some time in jail or pay the fines in full.
Civil Capias Warrant
A Civil Capias Warrant is specifically for civil cases only where the defendant consistently fails to follow the judge’s orders. In contempt cases, this type of warrant is to get the person to appear in court for the hearing for further sentencing and fines. These types of warrants are sometimes referred to as Body Attachments and Mittimuses.
A fugitive warrant is used in situations where the suspect has fled to another jurisdiction, and the order for their arrest comes from another state. The two states work together to apprehend the suspect and take them into custody.
This particular type of warrant comes not from a judge but from the Governor’s office and allows law enforcement to apprehend and return a suspect to their original state where the warrant was obtained.