June 20, 2019

What is the purpose of an arrest warrant?

The basic question that an arrest warrant is designed to answer is this: If you are suspected of committing a crime, and you were outside of the presence of a police officer when the alleged crime happened, are there enough facts for the police to arrest you?

What Does the Court Need to Issue an Arrest Warrant?

There are only a few ways for the court to issue a warrant for your arrest. The most common way is that a law enforcement officer or district attorney states in a sworn declaration (written or oral) to the court that he or she has a reasonable belief that you committed a crime.

The declaration must state the facts that give rise to this reasonable belief. If the judge accepts the declaration and the facts supporting it, he or she will issue an arrest warrant.

Another way that the court might issue an arrest warrant is if the grand jury indicts you for a crime. Upon receiving the indictment from the grand jury, the judge will issue an arrest warrant.

Do I Have to Turn Myself In?

If the court does issue the warrant, the police must execute the warrant. If they fail to do so, the court can hold the officer in contempt of court. However, this does not mean they must knock on your door and bring you to the precinct in handcuffs. Depending on the crime for which you are to be charged, the prosecutor can serve you with a summons to appear in court at a given time. You can also voluntarily surrender on the warrant and turn yourself in.

If you have reason to believe there is a warrant for your arrest, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about whether you should turn yourself in. Doing so may result in your release upon your own recognizance, which means the court is going to let you go home instead of going to jail on the promise that you will attend court at the appointed time of your next appearance. The court may also require that bond be deposited to insurance your attendance.

In some cases, your attorney can request that the court recall and quash the warrant, which means that court vacates the warrant before any penalties attach.

How Do I Fight an Arrest Warrant?

Like many other areas of our criminal justice system, you will have the opportunity to fight against an arrest warrant that is itself illegal or defective, or if the officers violated your rights in other ways during the arrest. Just as officers make mistakes, so to do the judges who issue warrants.

A valid warrant is one that fulfills several technical requirements. For example:

  • The judge must sign the warrant, and it must describe the offense for which you are to be arrested.
  • The warrant must also contain your name, or a name by which you can be identified with reasonable certainty.
  • The warrant must also command that you be arrested and brought before the court without unnecessary delay.

If the warrant fails any of these requirements, it is an invalid warrant, and technically gives the officers no authority to arrest you.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has held numerous times that if the officers are unaware of the problems with the warrant, and if they act in “good faith” in executing the defective warrant, your arrest may still be valid, so long as the officers made no attempt to trick the judge into issuing the defective warrant.[1]

In addition, you should be aware that the officers are not required to carry a copy of the warrant with them to your arrest. If you demand to see it, they can still arrest you legally so long as the warrant is produced for your review as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Call a Wallin & Klarich Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away

Getting help as soon as possible after a warrant has been issued for your arrest can be critical to challenging its validity. If this happens to you, do not hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled team of attorneys and legal assistants has more than 35 years of experience successfully challenging arrests with and without warrants. We are dedicated to giving our clients the best possible outcome in their cases. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help you, too.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in California criminal defense near you, no matter where you work or live.

Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

Author

Author: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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