Arrest Warrant Guide

Rhode Island Arrest Warrants

The United States has three different kinds of warrants for which each state is responsible for carrying out: search warrants, arrest warrants, and bench warrants. A search warrant is issued through a judge for the searching of evidence. This kind of warrant is issued when there is suspicion of hidden evidence, such as drugs or weapons.

A search warrant will name the item or items to be seized and taken into police custody, as well as where the law enforcement officers are allowed to search. Search warrants are only active for a designated time period, after which no items can be seized legally. Rhode Island law says that if an item is in plain sight then it may lawfully be seized without a warrant. While searching if a law enforcement officer discovers more hidden evidence unlisted in the warrant, he or she is not allowed to seize the items.

Arrest Warrants
Arrest warrants are also issued through magistrates or judges. Unlike search warrants, in order for a warrant of arrest to be approved, the presenting law enforcement officer or criminal defense attorney must have probable cause that the individual committed an offense. If an arrest warrant is suggested on suspicion then a warrant will not be issued.

Warrants of arrest are not necessary when a crime is witnessed by a police officer. Also unlike search warrants, arrest warrants do not expire, nor do they directly state where law enforcement officers are allowed to search. Individuals, however, are often arrested at either their place of business or personal residence.

Outstanding warrants will last until the individual is apprehended, whether that be in the state of Rhode Island or another. The "America's Most Wanted" list is made up of outstanding warrants for individuals all over the United States. If an individual flees the state in which a warrant was issued, he or she may also be lawfully apprehended by the police of another state.

Making Arrests
When law enforcement officers are to make an arrest, they are legally required to first knock and announce their presence, though an arrest warrant allows officers to enter a residence without permission. If officers have reasonable cause to believe the individual inside will flee, destroy evidence, injure him or herself, injure others, or injure police officers, they are allowed to use force for entry. Forceful entries are legal only through doors or windows.

Bench Warrants
Bench warrants are a type of arrest warrant that are issued only after an individual has previously been arrested and are more severe than ordinary arrest warrants. Bench warrants are issued when an individual on bail does not attend his or her assigned court date. Upon arrest an individual may be required to forfeit bail and may have additional charges for evading the police.

Warrant Searches
It is possible to have an arrest warrant without knowledge. The Internet allows common citizens to search databases for just this reason, as well as reasons of safety. Rhode Island has specific sections in each site where individuals may search via county or city. Most websites provide services without cost.