Arrest Warrants and Search Warrants Issuance and Procedures

Arrest Warrants and Search Warrants Issuance and Procedures

Most often, the term warrant refers to a specific type of authorization. Warrant usually refers to a writ issued by a competent legal officer, usually a judge or magistrate, which commands an otherwise illegal act that would violate individual rights and affords the person executing the writ protection from damages if the act is performed.

How are warrants issued?

Warrants are typically issued by courts and are directed to the sheriff, constable or a police officer. The warrants issued by a court normally are search warrants, arrest warrants, and execution warrants. A typical arrest warrant in the United States will take the approximate form of:

“This Court orders the Sheriff or Constable to find the named person, wherever he may be found, and deliver said person to the custody of the Court.”

What is an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by and on behalf of the state, which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual. Police officers obtain an arrest warrant before going to arrest an individual. Sometimes, an arrest warrant is issued in response to an individuals failure to do something. For example, an arrest warrant is issued when an individual fails to appear in court when they have an assigned court date. Law enforcement is notified of the issuance of an arrest warrant.

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is a court order issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to conduct a search on a person or location for evidence of a criminal offense and then to seize such items. All jurisdictions with a rule of law and a right to privacy put constraints on the powers of police investigators, and typically require search warrants for searches within a criminal inquiry.

There typically also exist exemptions for “hot pursuit”, if a criminal flees the scene of a crime and the police officer follows him, the officer has the right to enter a home or building in which the criminal has sought shelter.

Why are they important to Private Investigators

Private investigators are not involved in issuing or serving these types of legal documents. However, they may be hired to investigate whether proper procedures and techniques were followed in serving the papers to the appropriate parties. In this situation, detectives are hired either by an attorney or by a private party.

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.


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