If, like many people across the United States today, you have never found yourself dealing with an arrest warrant, then chances that are you might want to learn more about what they are, and how they work in the legal justice system.
An arrest warrant, in simple terms, is a form of official document that has been signed by a magistrate or judge to give authorization to a legal professional such as a police officer, when it comes to arresting a person or people named in that specific warrant. In most circumstances, an arrest warrant will identify a number of crucial factors, including the crime for which the arrest is authorized, and the manner in which the arrest might be made.
In some cases, the stipulations of an arrest warrant are very strict. For example, the warrant may state that a suspect will have to be arrested only between certain hours of a day. What's more, some arrest warrants will also specify the bail that will be allowed for the defendant to post and regain freedom following an arrest. If, however, the warrant in question is for a previous failure issued by the suspect to appear in court for a previous crime, then it will be called a bench warrant, and this will generally specify that the person will not be released on bail.
In Massachusetts, arrest warrants are covered by Section 1 of Chapter 276 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
How Police Obtain Arrest Warrants
In order to obtain an arrest warrant, most police officers will typically submit a written affidavit to a magistrate or judge. The affidavit, which will be given under oath, must come up with enough factual information to establish probable cause that a crime was committed, and that the crime was committed by the person for whom the arrest warrant is being prepared.
Simply put, most judges will not issue any warrant to arrest a person simply based on an affidavit that a liquor store was held up by a bald man with medium height, and the person for whom the warrant is being issued basically matches that description. Such a vague description does not establish enough probable cause to believe that a particular person robbed the liquor store in question, because it could apply to a number of people just as easily. On the other hand, if an affidavit included various pieces of factual data, such as the fact that the liquor store clerk and a number of witnesses were able to identify the photograph of a specific person, then the warrant may be issued.
What Happens After an Arrest Warrant Is Granted?
The arrest warrant will allow the person to be arrested wherever he is found including at home, at work, or if he or she is pulled over to the side of the road while driving.
It is important to note that a bench warrant and an arrest warrant are not the same thing. An arrest warrant can be issued by a judge for the arrest of a person who has committed a crime, whereas a bench warrant is issued by a judge for the arrest of a person who failed to appear at a crucial court hearing. A bench warrant also allows law enforcement officials the ability to arrest a suspect at the place of work, residence, or anywhere else.
Why Might an Arrest Warrant Be Issued?
There are various reasons why an arrest warrant may be issued for a particular person. For instance, a warrant may be issued if the person in question is a suspect in a murder case, rape case, theft case, or a case of breaking and entering. Similarly, arrest warrants can be issued for suspects involved in smuggling cases, abduction cases, and cases of grand theft auto.
An arrest warrant is not always served by officials of law enforcement immediately. Indeed, outstanding arrest warrants are those that are yet to be served by officials of law enforcement, and there are hundreds of thousands of these warrants across the country today.
Interestingly, it may be worth noting that it is possible for an arrest warrant to be issued for a person even if that person did not necessarily commit a crime. The reason is identity theft. Once the crime has been committed and a suspect identified, then an arrest warrant can be issued, and in many cases of criminal identity theft, the warrant may well be issued for the wrong person.
Arrest Warrants and Incorrect Information
In some circumstances, arrest warrants may contain mistakes in the facts. For example, the name of a suspect might be spelled wrong, or the wrong crime may be specified. In most circumstances, the police will be required to show the warrant to the suspect in question, and if that person can prove that the officer has the wrong person, then they will not be allowed to proceed with the arrest. However, as a practical matter, the police will not always show the warrant to the suspect for various reasons. This can mean that mistakes in identity will need to be sorted out later.
What to Do About Arrest Warrants in Your Name
- You will need to understand that the warrant is issued by a judge, and that police officers will need to honor it if they find you.
- The best thing that you can do is potentially find advice and help from a person with experience in your specific aspect of law. Speaking to an attorney can help you to build a defense for your case before it even comes to court, meaning that you are well prepared to fight back against any criminal accusations.