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A Beginner’s Guide to Arrest Warrants and Search Warrants

Getting arrested is a scary experience. It puts your hard-earned reputation at risk, and other than that, it may also put you in a financial crunch. And we haven’t even mentioned the legal expenses and extended court appearances! In short, it’s a lot of trouble.

What do you do to not get arrested?

Well, stay out of trouble, and stay grounded in what your rights are. This includes knowing what powers warrants give to law enforcement. Here’s a primer:

What is a warrant?

A warrant is a legal document that is issued by a judge. It gives law enforcement agencies the authority to engage in an activity that might otherwise go against your constitutional rights.

There are two types of warrants that define what a police officer can or cannot do—arrest and search warrants.

What is an arrest warrant?

In order to arrest you, the police need legal authorization. The document that imbues them with this power is known as an arrest warrant.

A judge will only issue an arrest warrant if they believe that you’ve been involved in something illegal, and if there is a probable cause that establishes that you should be taken into custody.

Arrests warrants are based on an affidavit. An affidavit is a sworn statement that is given by a police officer that explains why you should be arrested. This probable cause is usually based on information provided by eyewitnesses and other gathered information. The judge approves the affidavit after reviewing it.

Your arrest will only be lawful if the police have an arrest warrant. This is why you should always ask them to show it before surrendering yourself. Make sure you go through all the clauses so you could challenge the warrant later on in the court if there is a discrepancy.

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What is a search warrant?

Just like an arrest warrant, a search warrant is also a document that is backed by legal authorization. It allows the police to search a specific location for some sort of evidence. This warrant is important because it protects you from unlawful and unreasonable searches. It also protects you from unreasonable seizures.

For the warrant to be issued, the police must convince the judge that some sort of evidence related to the alleged crime is in said location. This is to make sure that the search warrant is issued with reasonable particularity. This means that it must describe the details of the evidence and the area to be searched in detail.

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