What Is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal document signed by a judge that authorizes law enforcement agents to arrest someone in connection with a crime. Arrest warrants generally contain:

  • The name of the person to be arrested
  • Details of the alleged criminal offense

In some cases, the warrant may also:

  • Establish a bail amount, unless the person is not eligible for bail
  • Stipulate the conditions under which the person may be arrested, such as between certain hours of the day and/or in a specified location

How Is an Arrest Warrant Obtained?

In order to obtain an arrest warrant, law enforcement officers typically write an affidavit to the court that seeks to establish probable cause. The affidavit must be written under oath and give factual information that establishes the named person as a suspect in the alleged crime.

Can I Be Arrested Without a Warrant?

The short answer is, yes. If a police officer or other law enforcement agent witnesses you commit a crime, he or she does not need a warrant to arrest you.

There are also situations in which police may arrest you based on probable cause, even if they did not witness the crime take place. Generally, the police may not arrest you for a misdemeanor crime not committed in their presence. There is an exception for domestic abuse cases and DUIs where an accident was involved.

Factual Errors

In some cases, the arrest warrant may contain factual errors. This could include having a name misspelled or detailing the wrong case information. If police present you with a warrant that contains wrong information, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Practically speaking, law enforcement officers do not always present the warrant when conducting an arrest. This is why it is important to speak with our experienced defense attorneys as soon as you have the chance. Our lawyers can examine the warrant to ensure legitimacy and help you obtain the most favorable resolution to your case.

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