What is an Arrest Warrant?

Business crime

Those who have had an arrest warrant issued in their name probably know the outcome, but it’s possible that they don’t fully understand the mechanism of the warrant. Knowing the way warrants work, however, is an important piece of information that a defendant or their family members need to know. At heart, an arrest warrant is simply a document authorizing law enforcement to arrest an individual and bring them to court, but in reality, it is much more.

What’s Involved in the Issuance of an Arrest Warrant

An arrest warrant is easily obtainable by a prosecuting attorney, but this doesn’t mean that certain rules aren’t involved. For instance, the prosecutor must file a complaint with a superior court magistrate in the county where the alleged offense is to be tried. At this point, the magistrate must review the complaint and decide whether or not enough evidence exists to prosecute.

If the magistrate deems it appropriate, they will issue an arrest warrant for the person against whom the complaint was filed. At this point, law enforcement officials have the right to seek out the person in question and affect an arrest. This, in effect, begins the process of a criminal trial.

Can an Arrest Warrant be Avoided?

Complaints can be filed without the knowledge of an alleged offender, so there’s not much that they can do to keep an arrest warrant from being initiated. The prosecutor, however, may request that the magistrate issue a summons in place of an arrest warrant. This summons is simply a demand that a person appear in court at a certain time and place.

Ignoring a summons can lead to the issuance of a bench warrant. It’s important to note, however, that prosecutors may not actually have any discretion in the issuance of a summons or arrest warrant. In California, for instance, a summons can’t be substituted for an arrest warrant if the alleged crime involved a firearm, violence, resisting arrest or any of several other potential circumstances.

What You Should do once a Warrant is Issued?

There are a few actions a person should take if an arrest warrant has been issued in their name. First, it’s imperative to speak with an attorney. Next, it’s a good idea to contact an expert bail agent at Bail Hotline. In certain cases a bond agency may be able to sign off on an individual’s bond immediately so that they can avoid going to jail at all.

Even those detained in other counties, who were only detained due to the arrest warrant, can request to stand before a magistrate in that county to provide the bail that would be owed in the county where the warrant was issued. At this point, the accused would simply be given a court date.

While it’s true that an individual can ignore an arrest warrant if they want, that simple fact isn’t going to make it go away. A person who tries their best to avoid arrest, while knowing there’s a warrant out in their name, will have to constantly look over their shoulder. And in reality, an arrest warrant is a lot like Vegas; the house is always going to win. Anyone facing an arrest warrant would do well to make bail quickly and find an experienced attorney. 

Branch Office
  • Open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. PST