Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers can arrest a citizen without the need for a warrant in the state of Virginia. However, if there is a valid warrant out for the arrest of an individual, law enforcement officials can arrest and detain the person named in it at any time and at any place.
With a valid warrant of arrest law enforcement officials can:
- Place an individual under arrest on sight
- Enter the home of the defendant and make an arrest
- Search the person and the vicinity of the person
If you believe that you or somebody that you know has an active arrest warrant, we recommend that you do a Virginia warrant search to know for sure so that you can take action on your own terms.
Active Warrants in Virginia
If somebody has an active warrant against them in the state of Virginia they are likely to endure the orders of that warrant at any given time. As long as the orders written in the warrant have not been executed, the warrant will remain active and outstanding.
If a person is aware that there is a warrant out for their arrest they can:
- Contact a lawyer
- Contact the courthouse
- Contact law enforcement
- Walk into the police station
Depending on the severity of the charges and the circumstances that surround the warrant, a defendant may not have to go to jail at all if they take the necessary steps to clear the warrant before they get arrested.
Types of Warrants in Virginia
Out of all of the hundreds of types of warrants that exist in the American court system, the three most commonly used in the criminal justice system are:
- Arrest warrants
- Bench warrants
- Search warrants
In a court of law when a judge or magistrate substantiates probable cause that the person named in the warrant has committed a crime or has evidence that proves another person committed a crime they can issue a warrant against them.
Each warrant has its own set of details that will determine how the law enforcement officials that execute the warrant will handle the situation.
The information that should be on every warrant regardless of the type is:
- Name or description of the person the warrant is issued upon
- Address or location of the person, or the subject of a search
- Reason for the warrant
- Charges, if any, that are being filed against the defendant
In simple terms, a warrant is a document that demands a certain action to take place upon the individual named within. This document is signed into action by a judge or a magistrate in a court of law.
The differences between the types of warrants are the circumstances on which the warrant was issued and the orders that are specified in the document.
Warrant Records Search
Arrest Warrants in Virginia
Upon the discovery of probable cause, a judge or a magistrate can issue a warrant for the arrest of a person. The discovery of probable cause usually comes from the district attorney filing criminal charges against the defendant, then requesting an arrest warrant from the judge.
An arrest warrant can be requested by police officers during off-hours in the event of an emergency that could threaten public safety. Although there would be no official charges filed, the police could get the threat behind bars and off of the streets.
An arrest warrant will be issued as a result of:
- Evidence discovered in an investigation
- An eyewitness identifies the defendant
- Police lose the defendant in a chase
- Video footage catches the defendant engaging in criminal activity
An arrest warrant is a court order to arrest and detain an individual that is wanted by the court system to face criminal charges. Law enforcement is expected to execute the warrant as soon as possible.
Bench Warrants in Virginia
A bench warrant in Virginia is not something that is to be taken lightly. When a judge issues a bench warrant it is in direct response to a defendant failing to comply with a court order. One of the most common reasons why a judge will issue a bench warrant is because a defendant failed to appear in court on the appointed date and time that the judge ordered.
A judge will issue this type of warrant without any involvement from other departments. Since they issue the warrant directly from the judges’ bench in the courtroom there is no need to discern probable cause or justify the warrant.
Other than the common factor of failure to appear other reasons that a judge might issue a bench warrant could be:
- Failure to pay off a fine on time
- Failure to comply with a court-ordered sentence
- Failure to report to community service or work detail
- Failure to comply with a summons for jury duty
Once a bench warrant is issued the judge will direct the clerk to notify all of the law enforcement agencies within the state and add the information to the warrant database.
The bench warrant carries the same amount of weight as an arrest warrant. Law enforcement has the authority to place the individual under arrest whenever they come into contact with them.
Depending on the severity of the situation law enforcement officers could merely issue a summons to appear in court and not take the person to jail.
Search Warrants in Virginia
A search warrant is an official document that gives police permission to search an individual and their property in order to obtain crucial evidence that could prove a person’s involvement with a crime.
Some of the instances that could merit a search warrant could be:
- Probable cause determines sales of illegal drugs
- Probable cause determines possession of stolen property
- Probable cause determines sales of illegal firearms
- Probable cause determines sexual abuse
In order for a search warrant to be valid, the judge must indicate where the search can take place, and what the police should be looking for.
If the police do not carry out the search warrant in the way that is described in the instructions within the warrant the entire search could be considered illegal and all of the evidence that is discovered can be suppressed from the court.
TheFourth Amendment to the US Constitution is a federally backed law that is in place to help protect citizens from illegal or unreasonable searches and seizures. However, police get to determine their own qualifying circumstances that merit ”probable cause” and ”public safety.”
With a search warrant in place, the officers that execute the warrant can search the areas that are specified in the warrant. If the defendant, or anybody else, resists the search and does not allow police access to the area to be searched police can break doors and windows in order to gain access and conduct a search.
Search warrants are issued in a way that denies the public from being aware of their existence until they have been executed. This way the defendant named in the warrant will have very little chance of being aware that they are about to be searched.
Being Cautious is Wise
Although there is no way to see whether or not there is a search warrant out for you or your friends, arrest warrants and bench warrants are considered public information. If you conduct regular warrant searches you can have an idea of whether or not you have to worry about being arrested. If you find out that you have a warrant out for you it is possible to handle the warrant in your own way and on your own terms.
***Regardless of which state 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.