In the State of California if an officer sees an individual committing a crime they can immediately arrest the person and file charges. If a person commits a crime without being seen by the police the officers will collect evidence. If there is enough substantial evidence to make an arrest, law enforcement will go to a judge and ask for an arrest warrant to be issued.
Once there is an active arrest warrant, the suspect will become wanted by the law to face charges and be tried for the crime they have been accused of. The suspect can:
- Go to jail to await trial
- Go to jail and be released with court dates
- Be released from law enforcement with a promise to appear
If you believe that you or somebody that you know has a warrant, we recommend that you do a California warrant search to know for sure so that you can take action on your own terms.
Types of California Warrants
The three basic types of warrants that are used in the state of California are:
- Arrest warrants
- Search warrants
- Bench warrants
While arrest warrants are issued in the event of a criminal act where the suspect will be held accountable for a crime, search warrants and bench warrants are slightly different.
The state of California and the rest of the United States has laws in effect that are designed to protect citizens from unlawful searches by law enforcement agencies. The Fourth Amendment protects the citizens of the United States and the California search warrant code laws protect Californians.
One of the laws is that an officer of the law can only search citizens, and their property such as homes and vehicles if they have a valid warrant signed by a judge.
The search warrant must specifically state the places where the warrant is valid, such as the garage, the vehicle, or the master bedroom. A search of anywhere other than specified in the warrant is illegal.
Police must draft the warrant beforehand and obtain a neutral judge that is not connected with the case to sign the document in order for the warrant to be valid.
Warrant Records Search
California Requirements for a Valid Search Warrant:
The main requirement for a valid search warrant in California is ” probable cause.” This means that if there is evidence that a crime has been committed it is possible to get a search warrant. Situations such as searching for:
- Stolen property
- Property used to commit a felony
- Evidence of a crime
- Property intended for use of a crime
- Property containing child pornography
- Controlled substances
If a suspect in question already has an outstanding arrest warrant, is on parole or probation there is sufficient probable cause for police to search them and their property.
Bench Warrants in California
A bench warrant is usually issued by a judge because of failure to hold up to the terms of a court order. Some of the instances that merit a bench warrant are:
- Failure to appear in court
- Failure to pay a fine
- Failure to complete community service
Depending on the severity of the circumstance, such as a felony case, the judge can order the bench warrant with a specific bail amount, or even a no-bail hold.
What Does a California Warrant Look Like?
Every state has requirements for what needs to be included on a warrant for it to be valid. Some states require more items to appear, and other states require less. California is no exception to this, and as such, the people that are responsible for endorsing warrants have to be careful to make sure that their warrant is valid. If the warrant is filled out incorrectly, it can cause issues for the case that follows the arrest. In the state of California, each warrant must contain the following:
- The name of the person the warrant is for
- Date and time the warrant was issued
- The city or county where the warrant was issued
- The signature of the issuing party, name of their office, and the name of the court or other issuing agency.
- Which law or laws the person in question violated.
- How much bail is set for, if the magistrate has set bail for the offense.
There can be a little bit of leeway if a warrant is issued or if a summons is issued. If only a summons is issued, the person in question will receive notice and will be required to complete the booking process before they appear in court. The court will require evidence of the person in question completing this process when they do appear. In general, a summons won’t be issued in lieu of a warrant if:
- The person in question has a charge involving a violent crime.
- The person in question has been charged with a crime that involves a firearm.
- The person in question has been charged with the crime of resisting arrest.
- The person in question has one or more outstanding warrants.
- Prosecution believes that a summons would jeopardize another case that involves the person in question.
- Lastly, if the person in question would be considered to be a high flight risk.
The major difference between a summons and a warrant is that a summons is asking someone nicely to show up to a mandated court date, while the other gives authorization to peace officers to seize someone on sight.
How are Warrants Executed in California, and who has the Power to Execute Them?
If a warrant is put out for someone’s arrest, someone has to have the authority to execute that warrant and there has to be a process that they follow. Without someone to execute a warrant, it’s nothing more than a piece of paper with a powerful person’s signature on it. So, what is this process in California and who is allowed to execute warrants?
Once a warrant is drafted and signed, it’s then delivered to:
- Peace officers
- Public officers
- Probation officers
- Parole officers
- Other officers of the law
In most cases, warrants are executed by law enforcement officers such as police officers. The warrant can also be executed by the clerk of a county or city jail as long as they are authorized and acting under the orders of a police officer.
Most of the time if a clerk is executing a warrant it’s because the person in question has turned themself in, while most of the time when it’s a police officer handing the execution personally it’s because they managed to find the person in question either out in public or in their home.
What exactly happens after the person in question has been arrested with a warrant depends on exactly what kind of charge they have. If the person has a misdemeanor that’s related to many vehicular charges, such as parking in a no parking zone, the warrant may allow for a citation in place or a physical arrest.
Some misdemeanors also allow the officer to get a promise of appearance from the defendant that just says that they’ll appear in court on a date that is set for them.
If the person in question is wanted for a felony charge things work differently. If the defendant is arrested in the county where the warrant was issued, they are to be taken to the magistrate without delay.
If they are arrested in any other county, the officer must inform the person in question, in writing, that they have the right to request to be seen by a magistrate in the county they were arrested in. The officer has to make a note on the warrant that the defendant has been informed.
Here’s where things start to get a little tricky. If the defendant doesn’t have bail set on the warrant, a local magistrate must set bail. If the person pays their bail, they’ll be free to go until their court date. If no bail can be set or the defendant can’t pay the bail, the county where the person is being held will notify the county where the warrant was sent out from that they need to pick them up. The county that created the warrant has either 5 days to pick up the defendant or 5 court days if the defendant is more than 400 miles away.
If bail is collected by the magistrate, they must issue a receipt for the defendant and notate on the warrant that bail has been paid. The arresting officer then frees the defendant who must return to court on their assigned court date. In most cases, the court date cannot be any further out than 25 days from the receipt of bail. If the defendant pays in cash, the money is deposited into the treasury for the county where the defendant was arrested. If bail is paid in bonds, it must be sent to the court where the defendant is required to appear.
Making Sure Your Know About the Warrant Laws in California
The criminal justice system is incredibly complex, and it can be difficult to try and decipher what specific statutes are saying, especially when it comes to something as complicated as the subject of warrants. Fortunately, Warrant Searches is here to help make understanding these laws a little easier. There are plenty of other resources available online, as well, if you need to learn more about this subject so you can be sure that you know what you’re talking about if the subject ever comes up in conversation.
Regardless of which state that you live in it is always wise to contact an attorney for any questions that you may have when it comes to warrant laws or any other legal concerns. The content found on this website is only for informational purposes and is not to be mistaken for legal advice.