A warrant is a court order that gives permission and instructions to law enforcement officers to perform certain actions. These actions are done in the name of justice.
There are a number of different types of warrants. All of these warrants serve different purposes and are used in different circumstances. Here are the four types of warrants to know.
A search warrant gives law enforcement the authority to search a specific area. The key feature of a search warrant is that it allows law enforcement to search a person's property without their consent.
Due to the stipulations of the Fourth Amendment, citizens are protected from unlawful searches and seizures. However, when a search warrant is obtained, it then becomes lawful for law enforcement to search the specified area or premises without permission from the individual.
Search warrants are typically designed to obtain evidence of a crime, or to discover illegal materials such as narcotics. In order for a search warrant to be granted, there must be probable cause that an individual is breaking or has broken the law, or is connected to a crime related to the search.
An arrest warrant is a warrant that is authorized by a judge or other judicial official, which instructs law enforcement to arrest a particular individual. Once law enforcement has the authorized arrest warrant, they can legally go and arrest the individual. After the arrest, the person is typically brought to jail for further legal processing.
If the crime is serious enough, then the arrested person will eventually face a criminal trial. In order for the judge to authorize the arrest warrant, there needs to be probable cause that the individual was involved in criminal activity, and there needs to be a sworn legal complaint from a person against the individual that is the subject of the arrest warrant.
Typically, an arrest warrant should list the name of the individual to be arrested. However, in some cases, law enforcement may not know the name of the person that they will be arresting. For example, an arrest warrant may be put out for a local arsonist, even if no one know their name. In such cases, the name "John Doe" will often be the name listed on the arrest warrant.
A bench warrant is a warrant that is typically authorized when a person fails to appear for a court date. This appearance could be for a subpoena, a citation, a summons, etc. When a bench warrant is given, law enforcement then has permission to go and find the person and force them to show up in court.
If the court has ordered a person to appear in court and they do not do so, then they are in "contempt of court." Appearing in court is not optional if the court has ordered that you go there. This is why the simple act of not showing up for an ordered court date can result in a bench warrant.
Bench warrants are also commonly used in indictments. In such circumstances, the bench warrant will be provided along with an accusation of an individual's wrongdoing. They will then have to show up in court at a later date to defend themselves from the accusations.
A fugitive warrant is a warrant that grants law enforcement permission to arrest a fugitive who has fled from one state to another. The reason why fugitive warrants are needed when fugitives flee across states is because once a fugitive leaves a state, the state law enforcement may no longer have jurisdiction in the area where the fugitive went.
However, if a fugitive warrant is granted, then it doesn't matter if the fugitive flees across state lines. Law enforcement will have the ability to arrest the person. Following the arrest, the fugitive will typically be extradited back to the place in which their crime took place, so that they can stand trial there.
Occasionally, fugitives will flee the entire country and make their way to another one. International fugitive warrants exist for these situations. However, international fugitive warrants are typically only good for countries that have extradition treaties with the United States. Without such treaties, it is very difficult to bring the criminal to justice.