Arrest Warrant Guide

Arrest Warrant Definition

What is an arrest warrant?
An arrest warrant is a legal document granting law enforcement officers the right to make an arrest in criminal proceedings. Stated on this document are the name or accurate description of defendent and the offense for which the defendent is charged.

The Difference Between an Arrest and Bench Warrant
An arrest warrant is issued due to a crime committed by a defendent after evidence has been presented in criminal proceedings. In order to present an arrest warrant to a defendent law enforcement officials must proceed through specific legal channels in order to make the arrest.

A bench warrant, however, is issued by a judge in order to immediately bring a defendent into custody.

Who Issues an Arrest Warrant?
Initially the state or county prosecutor files a petition with the judge in their state or county for issuance of the arrest warrant. The judge, however, must sign and issue the arrest warrant before any actions are taken against the defendent. Once the judge has signed this arrest warrant he or she releases the document to law enforcement officials. In federal cases warrants are returned to the judge following arrest.

The Arrest Warrant Process
During investigations of a crime, law enforcement officiers must obtain evidence against the perpetrator. The evidence is then presented to the state or county prosecution for their consideration in this case. Once the prosecution is convinced without doubt that this perpetrator is guilty of this crime, the evidence is submitted to the judge.

The judge will then issue the warrant provided he or she believes the prosecution has a case. The judge can also issue a warrant for a witnesses to be detained for questioning by law enforcement officiers. At the time of arrest officiers are required by law to read the individual their Miranda rights.

Arrest Warrant Jurisdiction
Arrest warrants are issued on county, state, and federal basis. Jurisdiction rules do apply when making an arrest. For instance, county issued warrants can only be enforced in the county for which the warrant was originally issued. The same is true of state and federally issued arrest warrants.

The state issued arrest warrant is enforced in that state, and the federally issued warrant is only enforcable in that country. In cases where defendents are accused of dangerous crimes, the case may be turned over to the state or federal government in order to make the arrest beyond county or state lines.

Making an Arrest Outside of Your Jurisdiction
In order to enforce the arrest warrant outside of its original jurisdiction requires cooperation with law enforcement officials in surrounding counties, states, or countries. In the matter of states and counties, the officers must have probable cause in order to take the defendent into custody. The defendent is then transported to the county in which the arrest warrant was originally issued.

Once a case, however, is turned over to the federal government for prosecution the defendent can be arrested in any state or province within the boundaries of that country.