Warrants in California
Many types of warrants exist, and they are issued for different reasons. Knowing the type of warrant you’re dealing with and how to handle it properly can go a long way in supporting your case.
Let an experienced attorney walk you through the criminal court process.
Types of California Warrants
There are three types of warrants that could be issued in your name:
- Search warrants
- Bench warrants
- Arrest warrants
California search warrants authorize police and other law enforcement officials to search the following:
- Their person
Other specific areas may be outlined in the search warrant. The search allows police the opportunity to seize any evidence to support their criminal investigation.
Do Police Always Need a Warrant to Conduct a Search?
Police can also conduct searches if they have your consent or other exceptions like believing someone was in immediate harm. However, when police violate these search and seizure laws, your attorney can fight to have any obtained evidence dismissed.
Bench warrants are issued by California judges. They are not issued when someone is suspected of committing a criminal offense. Instead, they are issued for one or more of the following reasons:
- Failure to pay a fine
- Failure to appear in court
- Failure to follow other court orders
Penalties for Failing to Follow a Court Order
Failure to adhere to any type of court order is considered contempt of court, which results in the following penalties:
- License suspension
- Being detained in county jail or state prison
Do Bench Warrants Expire?
It is important to note that bench warrants do not usually expire. When you learn that you have a bench warrant in your name, it is critical to contact an attorney to avoid an untimely and embarrassing arrest.
Arrest warrants in California authorize police officers and other law enforcement officials to detain and arrest you when you are accused of committing a criminal offense. Police do not need an arrest warrant to arrest you if you have been accused of committing a crime in the officer’s presence.
California judges will often issue arrest warrants when the grand jury indicts the defendant or when evidence is presented by the judge, District Attorney, or police officer.
What Information is in an Arrest Warrant?
Information contained in a California arrest warrant includes:
- The crime the defendant is accused of committing
- The name of the defendant
- The city or county where the arrest warrant was issued
- The time of which the arrest warrant was issued
- The name of the court
- The title and signature of the judge presiding
How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant
You can find out if you have a warrant in the following ways:
First, you may want to check online. Multiple government websites have public warrant information readily available. You can begin by searching the following:
- The local sheriff’s website – For example, if you were in Alameda County, you might visit the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office website.
- The Contra Costa County Superior Court of California website
Running a Criminal Background Check on Yourself
You also have the option of running a criminal background check on yourself to determine if there are any pending warrants with your name on them.
When you are searching to find a warrant in your name, you may need to provide specific pieces of information, including:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Court case number
- Driver’s license number
What Happens After a Warrant is Issued?
It is important to note that once a warrant has been issued by a judge, the clerk of court will enter the information online. This information can then be accessed by the United States Department of Justice website. This means you are at risk for arrest anywhere in the United States if you have a warrant.
What to Do if You Discover a Warrant in Your Name
Once you discover that you have a warrant, you will need to reach out to a California warrant defense attorney for help clearing your name. The last thing you want is to risk an unexpected arrest at work, your home, or other place that could lead to a damaged reputation.
You Should Voluntarily Clear Your Warrant
The courts will be more likely to work with you if you voluntarily clear the warrant. For example, the judge may be willing to lower your bail amount or release you on your own recognizance (ROR). Your criminal defense lawyer could help you avoid punishment for the warrant by having the warrant recalled and quashed.
How to Clear Your Warrant
You can help clear your warrant in the following ways:
- Setting up payment arrangements
- Paying any outstanding fees
- Agreeing to participate in rehabilitation programs
Some arguments your warrants lawyer may make to resolve your warrant include:
- Your compliance with probation requirements
- Lack of a notice to appear
- Mistake of fact surrounding the charges against you
- Mistaken identity
- You believed the charges against you had been dismissed or dropped
Challenging the Validity of a Search Warrant
When police use illegally obtained evidence against you, your attorney could file a motion to quash and traverse. This challenges the judge’s search warrant and the truth of the affidavit.
There are three types of hearings where motions to reverse and quash a search warrant may occur:
Your attorney may request a Franks hearing when they believe the supporting affidavit contained false or misleading information. Any evidence obtained once a search warrant is quashed will be suppressed at trial against you.
Your attorney may request a Luttenberger hearing when they believe the affidavit supplying probable cause had information from an undisclosed informant. Luttenberger hearings may be necessary when you need to question the truth of the affidavit but are unaware of the informant’s identity.
If the informant’s statements are material, the court can redact the informant’s identity. However, if your lawyer learns that the informant is a material witness to your case, your attorney may then move forward and request a Hobbs hearing.
Your lawyer may request a Hobbs hearing when they want the judge to reveal the informant’s identity. Suppose the judge finds that the information contained in the affidavit was false or misleading. In that case, the prosecution will have the opportunity to disclose their informant’s identity or risk having the charges against you dismissed.
Clear Your Warrant with Morris Law
Do not wait to contact a lawyer for help when you find out that there is a warrant in your name. Whether police have handed you a search warrant or you learn of an arrest or bench warrant, protect your future with a California warrant lawyer.