West Virginia Warrant Searches

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In the state of West Virginia, a peace officer has the authority to execute an arrest warrant at any time and at any place as long as it is within the boundaries of the state. Although there does not need to be an active warrant in place for an officer to arrest a suspect if they are caught in the act of a crime, an arrest warrant carries much more weight in the case against the defendant.

An arrest warrant is not necessary for an officer to make an arrest if:

  • The officer witnesses the defendant doing the crime
  • An eyewitness identifies the defendant as a suspect in a crime
  • The officer believes the defendant probably committed a crime

In many cases, it is the sole discretion of the peace officer to determine whether or not there is probable cause. However, when there is an arrest warrant against an individual, probable cause has already been established by a magistrate or a judge.

When a person has an active warrant out for their immediate arrest the officers that come into contact with the defendant will place them under arrest and take them to jail without question or hesitation. In many cases, the person with the warrant is not even aware that there is one out for them.

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

Active or Outstanding Warrants in West Virginia

A warrant is actually an official court document that has been signed into activity by a judge or a magistrate. Having an active, or outstanding warrant in the state of West Virginia means that a warrant has been issued, but not yet been executed.

An officer can execute a warrant by:

  • Conducting a search
  • Arresting an individual
  • Serving a court summons

The details written inside of the warrant will determine what needs to be done to successfully execute the orders of the court.

When an individual has an outstanding warrant they are subject to the orders listed in the warrant to be executed at any time. If it is a warrant for an arrest, the subject in the warrant will be arrested on contact. If the orders are to do a search of the person or the property of the person, officers will execute those orders as soon as possible.

Types of Warrants in West Virginia

Although there are too many types of warrants that are used throughout the United States to list, the state of West Virginia most commonly uses three basic types:

  • Search warrants
  • Bench warrants
  • Arrest warrants

Any one of these types of warrants is a document that declares an action against the person that is named in it through the power of the court. Since the courts are all backed up by the US government, there is no way to get around active warrants until they are officially executed and carried out by law enforcement.

The details that are written inside of the warrant will determine the factors that need to be in place in order for the orders to be legally executed. If the peace officer that is in charge of executing the warrant does not do so within the boundaries of the law, the whole case can be thrown out.

The type of warrant that is issued against a person will determine the type of action officers will use in order to execute the warrant.

Search Warrants in West Virginia

A search warrant orders law enforcement officers to conduct a search of the person in the way that is stated in the document. For example, if the search warrant stipulates that only the body of the person shall be searched in the process of the search, the police will only be able to search the physical body of the person.

If the search warrant states that anywhere in the vicinity within 10 feet of the person shall be searched, law enforcement is expected to search within that area.

When a search warrant is issued it is because there is probable cause that the person named in it is involved in some type of criminal activity, or they have committed a crime and the police believe that there is evidence to prove it somewhere.

Some of the reasons that a judge will issue a search warrant in West Virginia are:

  • The defendant is accused of selling illegal drugs
  • The defendant is accused of being in possession of stolen property
  • The defendant is accused of being in possession of items used to commit crimes
  • The defendant is accused of lewd activities against a child

If officers do not conduct the search in accordance with the stipulations of the warrant they run the risk of getting all of the evidence thrown out and becoming useless.

Bench Warrants in West Virginia

The judge will issue a bench warrant directly from the bench in the courtroom. Most of the time when a bench warrant is issued it is due to a person failing to appear in court at a time that they were instructed to show up.

Other reasons for a bench warrant could be:

  • Defendant failed to report to a jury duty commitment
  • Defendant failed to pay off a fine on time
  • Defendant did not show up for community service or work project

Depending on the severity of the case the warrant could be deemed a priority or not by the officers that are aware of it. For instance, if a person was able to make bail and be released while facing felony charges police would be more aggressive to find that person as opposed to a person who failed to report to jury duty.

Since the warrant is constructed and signed into action solely by a judge in the courtroom it is different from arrest warrants and search warrants that are fabricated as a team effort by law enforcement and a judge.

As soon as the warrant is signed into activity the person named in it is subject to being apprehended and arrested at any given moment.

Arrest Warrants in West Virginia

When a person has an arrest warrant out for them in West Virginia it is because they are being accused of a crime and the courts want to bring them in to face charges. The severity of the case will determine how the police handle the warrant.

If the warrant is because of a misdemeanor offense, there is a likelihood that the officers that come into contact with the defendant will order the person to show up in court to see the judge. However, misdemeanor cases can be serious as well.

A felony arrest warrant will be taken a little more seriously than a misdemeanor, however, if the felony is because of a crime of a violent or sexual nature, the officers will be more likely to apprehend the suspect with guns drawn, ready for action.

Charges that could be considered felonies could be:

  • Armed robbery
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Possession of illegal firearms

For public safety issues, officers can request that a judge issue an arrest warrant during off-court hours before a district attorney has filed charges, otherwise usually when an arrest warrant is issued it is because the DA has filed charges against the defendant.

Doing Regular Warrant Searches

You never know if you have an active warrant out for your arrest until you look. Doing regular warrant searches provides an individual with the type of information that could keep them out of jail and away from embarrassing circumstances such as being arrested at a company outing. Understand your circumstances and get an upper hand by knowing the facts.

***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.