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An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by and on behalf of the state, which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual.

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Canada

Arrest warrants are issued by a judge or justice of the peace under section 83.29 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The judge must be satisfied that the person named in the warrant is (a) is evading service of the order, is about to abscond, or did not attend the examination, or did not remain in attendance, as required by the order.

Once the warrant has been issued, section 29 of the Code requires that the arresting officer must give notice to the accused of the existence of the warrant, the reason for it, and produce it if requested.

United Kingdom

In England & Wales, arrest warrants are issued by parentActiveTextDocId=3208594&ActiveTextDocId=3208602 section 1, Magistrates' Courts Act 1980</ref> Warrants can also be issued by police officers of Superintendent rank or above outside of court operating hours, however this is treated as a last resort option. In Northern Ireland arrest warrants are usually issued by a Magistrate.

United States

Warrants are typically issued by courts but can also be issued by one of the chambers of the United States Congress or other legislatures (via the call of the house motion) and other political entities.

In the United States, an arrest warrant must be supported by a signed and sworn affidavit showing probable cause that:

  1. a specific crime has been committed, and
  2. the person(s) named in the warrant committed said crime.

Hence, the form and content of an arrest warrant may be similar to the following:

Municipal Court, Springfield Judicial District
To any peace officer of the realm: Complaint upon oath having been brought before me that the crime of larceny has been committed, and accusing Nelson Muntz of the same, you are hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and bring that person before me. Bail may be admitted in the sum of $1,000.00. Dated: 15 May 1997. /s/ Judge Snyder, presiding judge.

In most jurisdictions, an arrest warrant is required for misdemeanors that do not occur within view of a police officer. However, as long as police have the necessary probable cause, a warrant is usually not needed to arrest someone suspected of a felony.

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Mittimus

A mittimus is a writ issued by a court or magistrate, directing the sheriff or other executive officer to convey the person named in the writ to a prison or jail, and directing the jailor to receive and imprison the person.

An example of the usage of this word is as follows: "... Thomas Fraser, Gregor Van Iveren and John Schaver having some time since been Confirmed by the Committee of the County of Albany for being Persons disaffected to the Cause of America and whose going at large may be dangerous to the State, Ordered Thereupon that a Mittimus be made out to keep them confined till such time as they be discharged by the Board or any other three of the Commissioners." Minutes of the Commissioners for detecting and defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Albany County Sessions,1778-1781. (Albany, New York: 1909) Vol. 1, Page 90

In police jargon, these writs are sometimes referred to as CAPIAS, defined as orders to "take" a person or assets. CAPIAS writs are often issued when a suspect fails to appear for a scheduled adjudication, hearing, etc.

Bench warrant

A bench warrant is a variant of an arrest warrant, which authorizes the immediate on-sight arrest of the individual subject to the bench warrant. Typically, judges issue bench warrants for persons deemed to be in contempt of court—possibly as a result of that person's failure to appear at the appointed time and date for a mandated court appearance. Bench warrants are issued in either criminal or civil court proceedings.

Commonly (but not always), the person who is subject to a bench warrant has intentionally avoided a court appearance to escape the perceived consequences of being found guilty of a crime. If a person was on bail awaiting criminal trial when the nonappearance took place, the court usually forfeits bail and may set a higher bail amount to be paid when the subject is rearrested, but normally the suspect is held in custody without bail. If a person has a bench warrant against them when stopped by a law enforcement officer, the authorities put them in jail and a hearing is held. The hearing usually results in the court setting a new bail amount, new conditions, and a new court appearance date. Often, if a person is arrested on a bench warrant, the court declares them a flight risk (likely to flee) and orders them held without bail.

Bench warrants are traditionally issued by sitting judges or magistrates.

Outstanding arrest warrant

An outstanding arrest warrant is an arrest warrant that has not been served. A warrant may be outstanding if the person named in the warrant is intentionally evading law enforcement, is unaware that a warrant is out for him/her, the agency responsible for executing the warrant has a backlog of warrants to serve, or a combination of these factors.

Some jurisdictions have a very high number of outstanding warrants. The U.S. state of California in 1999 had around 2.5 million outstanding warrants, with nearly 1 million of them in the Los Angeles area.[1] The city of Baltimore, Maryland, had 53,000 as of 2007.[2] New Orleans, Louisiana, has 49,000.[3]

Some places have laws placing various restrictions on persons with outstanding warrants, such as prohibiting renewal of one's driver's license or obtaining a passport.

References


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