Other types of warrants
In addition to the bench warrant and arrest warrant reviewed above, there are other types of warrants whose usage can vary depending on the jurisdiction:
A search warrant is an order signed by a judge authorizing the search of a specific location for evidence of a crime. Law enforcement obtain search warrants by convincing a neutral judge of probable cause of criminal activity at the location to be searched or that evidence of a crime may be found there.
Police usually establish probable cause with the judge by submitting sworn affidavits explaining the evidence, witness statements and reasons for the warrant. The occupant is not present, nor even usually aware, when the warrant is being issued and cannot contest whether probable cause exists before issued.
The Supreme Court ruled that in most instances the 4th Amendment requires establishing probable cause with a neutral judge before searching private property.
There are six major exceptions where police may search without a warrant:
- Consent search: When the person in control of the premises voluntarily consents to the search.
- The Plain View Doctrine: Police may search or seize evidence in plain view when the officer is legitimately in the area.
- Search incident to arrest (SITA): Police have the right to search someone being lawfully arrested and the area in their “wingspan” or immediate control.
- Automobile exception: If police have probable cause to believe any vehicle (car, boat, RV, truck) contains evidence of a crime, they can search those areas that may contain the type of evidence suspected to be present.
- Emergencies/Hot pursuit: If a suspect enters private property while police are pursuing them, police can enter and search that property without a warrant, even if the suspect is not connected with the property owner. Police can also seize, without warrant, evidence that may easily be destroyed, moved or made to vanish before a warrant can be issued.
- Stop and Frisk: Police can stop and search a suspect if there is a reasonable suspicion of a criminal act and the officer can explain facts that created that suspicion.
A Capias warrant is a court issued detention order for either payment of fines or to compel you to make your scheduled court appearance. Capias warrants can be used in criminal, traffic, civil and family law courts.
A “Capias pro fine” warrant is issued when someone loses a judgement and doesn’t pay the restitution ordered by the court.
After a capias warrant is issued, your name is added to the law enforcement warrant database. Police usually do not immediately come to find you, but you can be detained any time police interact with you.
Once arrested, you’ll usually have to post bail before you can be released and given a new court date. If you previously posted bail, that bail is forfeited unless your criminal defense lawyer persuade the judge otherwise.
Writ of Bodily Attachment
A writ of bodily attachment (also referred to as “body attachment warrant” or “writ of body attachment”) is a court ordered warrant for civil arrest for civil contempt. Body attachment warrants are usually issued for failure to fulfill a civil court order.
The writ of bodily attachment is most commonly ordered for:
- Failure to appear when ordered in civil court.
- Failure to pay alimony or child support.
- Failure to obey any court order, including payment of fines.
A Ramey Warrant or “warrant for probable cause” is an arrest warrant issued before criminal charges have been filed. It is obtained by police submitting a declaration of probable cause to arrest directly to a judge. Police can obtain a Ramey warrant without DA approval.
Ramey warrants are often requested after hours when speed is key or in situations where the District Attorney keeps rejecting a case due to insufficient evidence. Police may seek a Ramey warrant hoping to gather evidence through questioning, lineups or investigation.
A fugitive warrant (also referred to as a “fugitive from justice warrant”) is a court issued arrest warrant in one jurisdiction for a person wanted in another jurisdiction. This specialized warrant authorizes the arrest of a fugitive who flees to another jurisdiction.
After arrest on a fugitive warrant, the fugitive goes through an extradition process to be returned to the original jurisdiction to face prosecution or punishment.