Arrest Warrant Guide

West Virginia Arrest Warrants

It's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't seen at least one episode of "Law & Order." The show was on for twenty years and is now going strong in a new Los Angeles incarnation. Every episode dealt with an arrest of some kind and they did a pretty good job of following the proper procedure. In fact, criminal cases on "Law & Order" often fell apart when the rule of law wasn't followed. Unless a criminal is arrested during the commission of a crime, a suspect offender can have a warrant sworn out by a judge for their arrest. In the criminal justice system, there are two types of warrants: a bench warrant or arrest/felony warrant.

West Virginia arrest warrants follow the same procedures as the rest of the country. You don't have to be notified when a warrant is sworn out in your name. Your first notification might come with the slap of handcuffs onto your wrists.

Bench Warrant
A bench warrant is issued by a judge for failure to comply with a court order. Most often this applies to issues concerning unpaid alimony or child support, failure to pay fines or failure to appear when summoned to the court for a legal matter. Bench warrants are put into a database where they will remain until the issue is resolved. A judge doesn't just decide to issue a bench warrant. They will be asked to swear out a warrant by a member of the state's prosecution office.

Felony Warrant
A felony or arrest warrant is also issued from a judge. Unlike a bench warrant, a felony warrant is for a specific criminal charge. In order for the warrant to be issued, the judge needs to be presented with probable cause. This can come in the form of evidence presented directly to the court from the district attorney's office or through an indictment of an individual by a grand jury. Whereas a bench warrant might not be considered a pressing matter, a felony warrant will often mean an immediate order to law enforcement to carry out the warrant.

Your Rights with an Arrest Warrant
The rights you have when served with an arrest warrant are those same rights you've heard on "Law & Order." They would be the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Beyond that, you will still go through the process of an arrest even if you are later to be found innocent or if they are arresting the wrong person.

No matter what the police may tell you, your best option if you are arrested is not to say anything and get a lawyer. The moment you ask for a lawyer, the questioning stops.

Searching for a Warrant
There are several online databases available to search the West Virginia criminal records to see if there is an active warrant issued in your name. If you have been the victim of identity theft, it is advisable to check these databases. The person who stole your identity could have committed crimes in your name resulting in a warrant being issued. The database only goes by name, not your appearance or alibi.