Washington Warrant Searches

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In the state of Washington, according to the Washington State Legislature, when it comes to an arrest warrant ”…the officer making an arrest must inform the defendant that he or she acts under authority of a warrant, and must also show the warrant: PROVIDED, That if the officer does not have the warrant in his or her possession at the time of arrest he or she shall declare that the warrant does presently exist and will be shown to the defendant as soon as possible on arrival at the place of intended confinement…

  • What this means is that an officer does not necessarily have to have the warrant in physical possession to make the arrest.

  • If a person in Washington has an active warrant out for their arrest the police can put them in restraints and place them under arrest at any time.

If you believe that you or somebody that you know has an active arrest warrant, we recommend that you do a Washington warrant search to know for sure so that you can take action on your own terms.

Active Warrants in the State of Washington

Having an active warrant puts the defendant at risk of being arrested and detained in any circumstance when they come into contact with law enforcement. Depending on the type of warrant, and the severity of the situation, police could become very aggressive in their pursuit.

When a warrant is active, or outstanding, it means that the orders that have been established within the details of the warrant document have not been executed. Unless the warrant is carried out, it will remain active in status for an indeterminate amount of time.

Active warrants can be the result of:

  • Failing to appear in court
  • Probable cause determined involvement with a crime
  • Unsolved traffic violations
  • A violation of release conditions

Each warrant will be unique to its own properties and will be carried out in the way that best suits the situation.

Types of Warrants in the State of Washington

Each city and state will have its own particular ways of issuing warrants. Some circumstances merit civil warrants, other situations merit federal warrants, while others may use Capias warrants.

The main warrants that are issued in the state of Washington for use in the criminal court system are:

  • Search warrants
  • Bench warrants
  • Arrest warrants

Each of these types of warrants is part of a criminal procedure that involves a defendant and the court system. A search warrant is used to discover and collect evidence. A bench warrant or an arrest warrant is used to bring a person into the custody of the court to face a judge.

Any time a warrant is issued in the pursuit of a criminal case the only way to satisfy it is for law enforcement to execute the orders within the warrant.

Search Warrants in the State of Washington

When a search warrant is issued in the state of Washington, the judge that signs it into activity must determine that there is ample probable cause. Probable cause means that the person named in the warrant is probably involved in criminal activity, or is in possession of incriminating evidence.

The search warrant must include information such as:

  • The name of the person to be searched, or a description of the person
  • The address, or the place where the officers are to search
  • The vehicle, or container that officers will be able to search in
  • What the police are looking for
  • The reason for the search

With a valid search warrant, officers have permission to search the person or the property of the individual named in the warrant. If the individual refuses, police can use force to enter the area to be searched.

If the method of the search warrant is not carried out in the way that the warrant specifies, it could be considered an illegal search and seizure practice. If the search is deemed illegal, all of the evidence that is produced can be eliminated from the case.

Bench Warrants in the State of Washington

When a person has an active bench warrant out for them they will eventually have to face the judge in one way or another…unless they die before the warrant can be executed.

When a judge issues a bench warrant against a person it is because the person failed to comply with a court order. In most circumstances, the warrant is placed as the result of the defendant not showing up for court when they were directed to.

Reasons why a judge will issue a bench warrant are:

  • When a defendant fails to show up for a court-ordered sentence
  • When a defendant does not pay a court-ordered fine on time
  • When a citizen fails to answer a jury summons

Once a bench warrant is issued it becomes public information. The judge will direct the county clerk to inform all of the relevant authorities of the warrant and add the information to the warrant database.

With a bench warrant, police can arrest the defendant and put them in jail at any time.

Arrest Warrants in the State of Washington

The difference between an arrest warrant and a bench warrant is that an arrest warrant is issued as the result of a person committing a crime and being sought after by the court system. A bench warrant, on the other hand, is a warrant that is issued as a result of a case that is already in progress.

A fresh case is when a district attorney or a law enforcement officer brings evidence to a judge and requests that the person of interest has an arrest warrant issued against them so that they can be tried for a case.

Some of the crimes that will justify an arrest warrant are:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Arson
  • Theft

Evidence of probable cause can come in the form of:

  • Fingerprints at a crime scene
  • DNA left at a crime scene
  • Video footage of a crime
  • Eyewitness statement

Although an arrest warrant allows police officers to make an arrest without having to justify probable cause, police do not need a warrant to arrest a suspect if:

  • They see them committing a crime
  • An eyewitness points the defendant out and states they saw them do a crime
  • The person runs from the police

If an individual has a warrant out for their arrest there is little to no chance of them being released from the police with a promise to appear. An arrest warrant can only be satisfied when the subject of the warrant has been arrested.

When police arrest a person that has an arrest warrant they will take them to jail and book them on the charges that they are facing. If the warrant indicates a bond amount, the person will have the option to post bail and be released.

  • Some warrants will have no bail available and the defendant will have to go to court in order to ask for bail.

  • In many cases where the offense is a felony, the defendant will remain in jail for the duration of their trial in court.

Arrest warrants are an integral part of the criminal justice system. They allow law enforcement to search for and detain dangerous criminals that would otherwise remain free to continue to victimize people.

How to Stay Informed About Warrants

A lot of the people in the state of Washington that get arrested on warrants are not even aware that they have them until they are handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police car. Doing regular warrant searches can help an individual to be informed about warrants and other issues that could result from legal problems. Just knowing that a warrant exists can be enough to avoid a costly and embarrassing arrest.

***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.