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What Is a Warrant and When Is It Needed?

What Is a Warrant and When Is It Needed?

A warrant is a legal document that gives the police the authority to make an arrest or search a premises. There are two common types of warrants: arrest warrants and search warrants.

Arrest Warrants

An arrest warrant is a legal document, signed by a judge (or magistrate), that authorizes a police officer to arrest the person or people named in the warrant. The warrant typically must identify the crime for which the person is being charged. In some situations, the arrest warrant will stipulate the manner in which an arrest can be made. For instance, the warrant might stipulate that the suspect can only be arrested at home, or during certain hours of the day.

An arrest warrant is necessary in order to take a person into custody, unless a person surrenders. If you are arrested, you may be ticketed and released, or taken into custody and transported to the police station where you will be fingerprinted and booked. If you are taken into custody and remain in jail, you will be brought before a judge for a Bail Hearing to determine the conditions of your release. At this point, you will also make your initial appearance at the Arraignment, during which the judge will review the charges and possible penalties with you.

If you are arrested, it is important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not make any statements or answer any questions from the police or prosecution without an attorney present. The Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers at Keller Law Offices are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to advise clients following an arrest. You can contact us at 952-913-1421 any time, day or night.

Search Warrants

A search warrant is a legal document, also signed by a judge (or magistrate), that authorizes the police to search for specific objects or materials at a defined location at a specified time. A search warrant must be as specific as possible in order to be valid. In order to search a private premises, a search warrant must be obtained by showing the judge or magistrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed or is occurring and that evidence of such crime will be found at the specified location.

Police officers can only search the location specified in the warrant, and if the search extends beyond the scope of the warrant, any evidence obtained may be excluded (unless is certain exceptions exist). For instance, if the warrant applies to a house, the police cannot search the backyard. Similarly, if a warrant specifies searching for weapons, the police cannot search for drugs. Moreover, the police can only seize those objects that are listed in the warrant. If, however, the police officers inadvertently find evidence of a crime that is not listed in the warrant, such evidence can generally be seized.

There are a few exceptions to the search warrant requirements, including:

  • Consent searches
  • Evidence in plain view
  • Searches made in connection with an arrest
  • Emergency situations
  • Vehicle searches

Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer

The legal scope, requirements, and limitations of arrest warrants and search warrants are incredibly complicated with several nuances and exceptions that may apply given the situation. If you been arrested and/or your property was searched, you should promptly contact a criminal defense lawyer. The Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers at Keller Law Offices are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to advise clients. You can contact us at 952-913-1421 any time, day or night, for criminal defense advice and representation.

Get legal advice from Max Keller