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What Happens When a Warrant Is Issued for My Arrest?

Comments Off on What Happens When a Warrant Is Issued for My Arrest?

In many cases, Washington police officers are required to obtain a warrant before arresting you for a crime. Arrest warrants are designed to uphold your Fourth Amendment rights, which protect you against unreasonable searches and seizures. If you are arrested for a crime in Washington state, it is important to understand your rights and whether the arresting officer needs a warrant. 

What Is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is an official court document that allows a law enforcement officer to arrest you for a crime. To obtain a warrant, the police officer will need to present the judge with probable cause, or a reasonable belief or amount of suspicion that you have committed a crime, for making the arrest. The officer may provide evidence that shows probable cause, which often expedites the process.

Once a court grants the arrest warrant, the police officer has the right to arrest you for the crime at any location he or she finds you in. This may include your home, school, place of work, a public place, or during a traffic stop. 

After you are arrested, the officer will take you into custody and begin interrogating you about the crime. At this stage, it is important to invoke your right to a criminal defense attorney and decline answering any questions until your lawyer is present.

Do the Police Need a Warrant to Arrest You?

Obtaining a warrant is not always necessary. If an emergency is occurring and there is a reasonable belief that someone is in danger, a police officer has the right to arrest a suspect without a warrant. For example, say that an officer hears someone yelling for help inside of a home. In this situation, the officer has the right to enter the residence, ensure that the victim is safe, and arrest a potential assailant.

Additional circumstances that may lead to a warrantless arrest include the following.

  • If the officer has probable cause to believe that a person committed a felony crime, he or she can perform an arrest in public without a warrant. 
  • In misdemeanor cases, an officer can perform a warrantless arrest if the suspect commits the crime in the officer’s presence.

After a police officer performs a warrantless arrest, a judge must review the case to determine whether probable cause existed. The arresting officer must submit a sworn statement to the court with evidence supporting his or her basis for probable cause. If the judge decides that probable cause existed, the case will proceed. If the judge finds that there was no probable cause, the suspect will be released.

Are You Notified About Having a Warrant Issued for Your Arrest?

If you have a warrant issued for your arrest, the police officers will not inform you that they intend to take you into custody. Telling a suspect that he or she is about to be arrested is not in the best interests of law enforcement; in many cases, advance notice may cause a suspect to flee or attempt to hide evidence. As a result, you will not be notified if a warrant is issued for your arrest. 

In these situations, it is important to comply with the arresting officers and remain silent. Do not answer any questions until you speak to an attorney. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact a defense attorney for support and guidance. 

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