A "warrent" (warrant) is a document issued by a legal or goverment official authorizing police or another law enforcement body to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out an action relating
to the administration of justice.
"Warrents" (warrants) are widely used in the United States to control crime. There are many types of "warrents" (warrants) and many types of crimes in which a "warrent" (warrant) can be issued. Therefore, it’s important to know the difference between the various types to help you better understand the United States legal system and help you find out if you have an outstanding "warrent" (warrant) in your name. The types of crimes "warrents" (warrants) are typically issued for include, but are not limited to: assault and battery, theft/stealing, DUI's/DWI's, delinquent
child support, misdemeanors, felonies, breaking and entering, sex offenses, and even a
missed court date.
Below are some common "warrents" (warrants) and reasons they exist to educate you and help you identify with your own personal situation.
Search "Warrents" (Warrants): A search "warrent" (warrant) is issued by a judge who authorizes law enforcement agencies to search for specific evidence, materials or an individual in a specific location at a specified time. Probable cause and a credible reason to conduct a search must be validated in order for a judge to issue a search "warrent" (warrant). If law enforcement does not execute the search within the specified period of time, it expires. It is then illegal for any investigator to search a location without first obtaining another search "warrent" (warrant) from a judge. However, If the police believe that someone's life is being threatened and have probable cause they can search a private residence or location with out one.
Sneak and Peek "Warrents" (Warrants): A sneak and peek "warrent" (warrant) authorizes law enforcement to covertly enter a premise without the owner’s or occupant’s permission or knowledge based on the fact they have substantial evidence a crime has been committed. It's less intrusive since nothing is physically disturbed or seized during the search. Law enforcement are simply there to gather evidence needed to return at a later date with a traditional search "warrent" (warrant). This type of "warrent" (warrant) works well in illegal drug investigations because they allow the search of premises for evidence of chemical and/or drug paraphernalia.
No Knock "Warrents" (Warrants): A no knock "warrent" (warrant) is used by law enforcement in cases where an unannounced entry is justified to legally enter a premise without first knocking or announcing their presence. Common reasons a no knock "warrent" (warrant) is issued include, but are not limited to: the likelihood that evidence of a crime will be destroyed in advance of a known search or for the safety of law enforcement officials by conducting a surprise attack. Federal law enforcement officials may apply for such a "warrent" (warrant) based on information that such circumstances are present.
Criminal "warrents" (Warrants): The most serious of all "warrents" (warrants) is the criminal "warrent" (warrant) which is signed by a judge to detain a person suspected of committing a specific crime. It will be granted in cases where there’s probable cause that a crime has been committed by the person named.
Civil "Warrents" (Warrants): Civil "warrents" (warrants) are commonly issued in small claims court situations where civil suits are involved for a specific jurisdiction. Basically it's an order signed by a judge that requires an individual to appear in court for a civil case at a specific location and time. If an individual fails to appear for a court date he or she automatically loses the case and the other party obtains the favor in the civil judgment. The civil case, along with the civil "warrent" (warrant), is then closed. However, a judge may hold the individual in contempt of court for failure to appear. This is then considered a crime and the judge has the right to issue a criminal "warrent" (warrant) for the individual.
Traffic Violations: It might surprise you to learn that even traffic infractions can result in a "warrent" (warrant) for your arrest. They can be issued for the most serious of traffic offenses, such as DUI's or vehicular homicide, down to unpaid parking tickets. You may have had every intention of paying a ticket, but failed to do so or forgot to contest the ticket for a court hearing. Typically, if you forget to pay a traffic ticket you will receive a second notice in the mail with an increase for late payment. However, failure to appear in court for a citation will result in a "warrent" (warrant) for your arrest.
Child Support "Warrents" (Warrants):You are in violation of your child support obligations If you fail to pay and the spouse or custodial parent files a complaint against you. In response the court will issue a summons and a court date to try and settle the disagreement. If the party that owes child support does not show up for the court hearing then the judge has the power to issue an arrest "warrent" (warrant) for that person. If you are prosecuted and sent to prison for neglecting child support obligations it will show on your criminal record as a federal offense. Delinquent child support payments also show up on credit reports in addition to an arrest "warrent" (warrant) in your name.
Outstanding Arrest "Warrents" (Warrants): A "warrent" (warrant) is considered outstanding if it has not been served or resolved. It may be outstanding for a number of reasons, such as if the person named is intentionally evading law enforcement, a person might be unaware that a "warrent" (warrant) is issued in their name, the agency responsible for executing the"warrent" (warrant) is backlogged, or any combination of these factors.
Whatever the reason does not matter. The fact is that the "warrent" (warrant) still exists and you need to legally address the matter.
Some final facts about "warrents" (warrants)
Regardless of the reason "warrents" (warrants) do not expire until the matter is resolved and closed by a judge. "Warrents" (Warrants) don’t just go away after the statute of limitations on the crime has ended and remain on your record. That's why it's important to know about any outstanding "warrents" (warrants) in your name.
Note: "warrents" (warrants) can only be revoked by the issuing judge. The defendant's attorney has to file a motion to have the it removed from your record even if the statute of limitations on the crime itself has passed.