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Legal Truth About Warrants
Warrants are used in the United States legal system as well as in other countries. Some warrants may expire, while other warrants do not. Therefore, it's important to know the difference between the various types of warrants to help you understand the U.S. legal system.
Search Warrants must be used within a specific time frame or a search warrant will expire. A search warrant is issued by a judge who authorizes law enforcement agencies to search for specific objects, materials or an individual in a specific location at a specified time. For a judge to issue a search warrant, the investigating agencies or law enforcement officers must show probable cause and a valid reason to conduct a search. If a search warrant is not executed within the specified period of time it expires. It is then illegal for any investigator to search a location without first obtaining another warrant from a judge. However, If the police believe that someone's life is being threatened or endangered and have probable cause they can search a private residence or location with out a search warrant.
Can The Police Search me without a Search Warrant?
If the police lawfully arrest you or you're picked up on a previous warrant for your arrest, then they are permitted to search you and the area of your immediate control. This is known as wingspan. An example of this may include searching the glove box of your car or private property where they have apprehended you at the time.
No Knock Warrant
A no knock warrant may be obtained by law enforcement officers whenever circumstances justify an unannounced entry. No knock warrants authorize officers to legally enter a premise without first knocking or announcing their presence. Reasons to use a no knock warrant include, but are not limited to: the likelihood that evidence of a crime will be destroyed in advance of a known search or for the safety of law enforcement officials by conducting a surprise attack. Federal judges and magistrates can legally issue these warrants after considering all the circumstances. Federal law enforcement officials may apply for such a warrant based on information that such circumstances are present. Even when authorized, a no-knock entry might nonetheless violate the Fourth Amendment if the officers' have knowledge that the circumstances justifying the warrant no longer exist at the time they execute the search.
Criminal warrants are orders signed by a judge to detain a person suspected of committing a specific crime. An arrest warrant is granted when there's probable cause that a crime has been committed by the person named. Other warrants that may lead to an arrest are alias warrants and bench warrants. Alias warrants are issued when a defendant fails to appear in court after a citation has been issued. An example of this is not showing up on a court date to face a speeding ticket fine. A bench warrant is typically issued after a defendant has been before a judge, but fails to appear for the next scheduled court appearance. Regardless of the reason warrants won't expire until the matter is resolved and closed by the issuing judge. In other words, arrest warrants don't just go away after the statute of limitations on the crime has ended. Note: warrants can only be revoked by the issuing judge. The defendant's attorney has to file a motion to have the warrant removed from your record even if the statute of limitations on the crime itself has passed.
Civil Warrants are commonly issued in small claims court cases where civil suits are involved. Civil warrants are issued for a specific jurisdiction, whereas criminal warrants can be valid throughout an entire state. A civil warrant is an order signed by a judge that requires an individual to appear in court for a civil case at a specific location and time. Civil warrants are rarely enforced. So, if an individual fails to appear for the court date he or she automatically loses the case and the other party obtains the favor in the civil judgment. The civil case, along with the civil warrant, is then closed. However, a judge may hold the individual in contempt of court for failure to appear. This is then considered a crime and the judge has the right to issue a criminal warrant for the individual.
Traffic Citation Warrants
Citation Warrants are issued by the police department in regard to traffic infractions. They can be issued for the most serious of traffic offenses down to unpaid parking tickets. Sometimes a person has every intention of paying their tickets, but discovers months later they have failed to do so or contest the ticket for a court hearing. Typically, if you forget to pay a traffic ticket you will receive a second notice in the mail with an increase for late payment. However, failure to comply with the terms of a citation or appear in court for a citation will result in a warrant for your arrest.
Child Support Warrants
If the court finds that a non-custodial parent fails to obey their obligation to pay child support, the spouse or custodial parent can file a complaint against them. In response the court will issue a summons and a court date. A sheriff can serve the summons and papers for the parties involved. If the party that owes child support does not show up for the court hearing then the Judge can issue an arrest warrant for that person.In many states failure to meet your financial obligation can result in the loss or suspension of the person's license after 30 days. If a non-custodial parent is prosecuted and sent to prison for neglecting their obligations it will show on their criminal record as a federal offense. Delinquent child support payments also show up on credit reports. It's important to resolve you child support issues to avoid these things from happening.
Federal Rules of the Criminal Process
If probable cause has been established and it's believed that a criminal offense was committed by the defendant, the judge must issue an arrest warrant to an officer authorized to execute it. The U.S. Marshal Service is usually appointed to execute a warrant to apprehend a criminal. However, if service can more easily be effective by using another law enforcement agency, the U.S. Attorney may appoint or approve an alternate server. The United States Marshals Service is authorized to serve and protect federal jurists, court officers, witnesses, and other persons in the interests of justice where criminal intimidation impedes on the functioning of the judicial process or any other official proceedings.
Properties of Legal Warrants
- Contain the defendant's name. If not known, a name or description by which the defendant can be identified is needed.
- Describe the offense being charged.
- Command that the defendant be arrested and brought without unnecessary delay before a magistrate judge. If none is available, a state or local judicial officer is next in authority.
- Has to be signed by a judge.
- Summons in the same form as a warrant requiring the defendant to appear before a judge at a specific time and place.