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How Arrest Warrants are Issued

Not everyone understands how police obtain arrest warrants, how they collect evidence to convince a judge to sign off on a warrant, and what type of evidence is enough to make an arrest.

If you suspect an arrest is imminent, you want to learn more about arrest warrants and what they will soon have to do with you.

Arrest warrants are official court documents signed off by a judge or magistrate; they authorize the police to arrest the suspect named on the warrant.

Generally, a warrant for an arrest indicates the crime allegedly committed, and sometimes the warrant will restrict when the suspect named in the warrant can be arrested, for example, the suspect can “only be arrested between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6 p.m.”

Some Warrants Discuss Bail

It is not uncommon for a warrant to mention bail. In this case, the warrant will indicate how much bail the suspect has to post be released from custody after an arrest. If the warrant was for a failure to appear, the judge issues what is called a “bench warrant.”

When a judge issues a bench warrant, it will probably state that the individual does not have a right to bail. This is often called a no-bail warrant.

How do the police obtain arrest warrants?

For the police to obtain a warrant, an officer submits an affidavit to a local judge or magistrate. This affidavit must have enough information for there to be probable cause to arrest the individual named in the affidavit. The officer cannot provide a broad description and expect the judge to sign off on it.

For example, if a police officer wants John Smith arrested because a tall, lanky male with blond hair and a mustache robbed a gas station, matching Smith’s description, that will not suffice. The judge would not issue a warrant for John Smith’s arrest because hundreds of people can match that description.

On the other hand, if the officer said that he had video footage from the station’s surveillance camera of John Smith committing the robbery, and two witnesses placing John and his vehicle at the gas station at the time of the robbery, there would likely be enough probable cause to arrest John Smith.

Sometimes, there are errors in an arrest warrant, such as a misspelled name. Even if there are clerical errors, or if the police have the wrong person, usually any such mistakes will be sorted out later, after the arrest has been made.

Is there a warrant for your arrest, or were you recently arrested after being named in a warrant? Either way, contact our Plano criminal defense firm for a hard-hitting defense!