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A written order issued by a judicial officer or other authorized person commanding a law enforce ment officer to perform some act incident to the administration of justice.

Warrants are recognized in many different forms and for a variety of purposes in the law. Most commonly, police use warrants as the basis to arrest a suspect and to conduct a search of property for evidence of a crime. Warrants are also used to bring persons to court who have ignored a subpoena or a court appearance. In another context, warrants may be issued to collect taxes or to pay out money.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon Probable Cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." There are three principal types of criminal warrants: arrest warrants, search war rants, and bench warrants.

An arrest warrant is a written order issued by a judge or other proper judicial officer, upon probable cause, directing a law enforcement officer to arrest a particular person. An arrest warrant is issued on the basis of a sworn com plaint charging that the accused person has committed a crime. The arrest warrant must identify the person to be arrested by name or other unique characteristics and must describe the crime. When a warrant for arrest does not identify a person by name, it is sometimes called a "John Doe warrant" or a "no name warrant." A Search Warrant is an order in writing, issued by a judge or judicial officer, commanding a law enforcement officer to search a specified person or premises for specified property and to bring it before the judicial authority named in the warrant. Before issuing the search warrant, the judicial officer must determine whether there is probable cause to search based on the information supplied in an Affidavit by a law enforcement officer or other person. Generally the types of property for which a search warrant may be issued, as specified in statutes or rules of court, are weapons, contraband, fruits of crimes, instrumentalities of crimes (for example, a mask used in a Robbery), and other evidence of crime.

A bench warrant is initiated by and issued from the bench or court directing a law enforcement officer to bring a specified person before the court. A bench warrant is used, among other purposes, when a person has failed to appear in response to a subpoena, summons, or citation. It is also used when an accused person needs to be transferred from jail to court for trial, and when a person's failure to obey a court order puts her or him in Contempt of court. A bench warrant is sometimes called a "capias" or an "alias warrant."

Warrants may be used for financial transactions. For example, a private individual may draw up a warrant authorizing another person to pay out or deliver a sum of money or something else of value.

A warrant may be issued to a collector of taxes, empowering him or her to collect taxes as itemized on the assessment role and to enforce the assessments by tax sales where necessary.


1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a law enforcement officer (usually a sheriff) to arrest and bring a person before the judge, such as a person who is charged with a crime, convicted of a crime but failed to appear for sentencing, owes a fine, or is in contempt of court. A "bench warrant" is an order to appear issued by the court when a person does not appear for a hearing, which can be resolved by posting bail or appearing. A "search warrant" is an order permitting a law enforcement officer to search a particular premises and/or person for certain types of evidence, based on a declaration by a law enforcement official, including a district attorney. 2) v. to claim to a purchaser that merchandise is sound, of good quality, or will perform as it should, or that title to real property belongs to the seller. (See: search warrant, search and seizure, guarantee)


(Authorization), noun auctoritas, authority, brevet, charter, commission, credentials, license, permission, permit, potestas, power, sanction, voucher
Associated concepts: warrant of attorney


(Guaranty), noun agreement, assurance, covenant, pledge, promise, security, surety, warranty


(Judicial writ), noun certificate, decree, edict, judicial authorization, judicial order, legal process, mandate of a court, order, process, subpoena, summons
Associated concepts: arrest warrant, bench warrant, dispossess warrant, fugitive warrant, search warrant, tax warrant, warrant of attachment, warrant of commitment
See also: adduce, allow, assignment, assure, attest, authority, authorize, avouch, award, basis, bear, bind, bond, brevet, canon, capacity, certainty, certificate, certify, charge, citation, claim, commitment, concede, concession, confirmation, consent, contend, corroborate, coverage, delegate, delegation, direction, dispensation, draft, droit, empower, ensure, exception, fiat, grant, guarantee, guaranty, indorsement, injunction, insurance, justify, leave, let, license, maintain, monition, obligate, order, permission, permit, pledge, power, precept, prerogative, privilege, promise, proof, reassure, requirement, responsibility, right, sponsor, subscribe, surety, swear, undertaking, uphold, validate, verify, vouch, vow, witness


an authorization issued by a magistrate or other official allowing a constable or other officer to search or seize property, arrest a person, or perform some other specified act.

ESCAPE, WARRANT. A warrant issued in England against a person who being charged in custody in the king's bench or Fleet prison, in execution or mesne process, escapes and goes at large. Jacob's L. D. h.t.

WARRANT, crim. law, Practice. A writ issued by a justice of the peace or other authorized officer, directed to a constable or other proper person, requiring him to arrest a person therein named, charged with committing some offence, and to bring him before that or some other justice of the peace.
     2. It should regularly be made under the hand and seal of the justice and dated. No warrant ought to be issued except upon the oath or affirmation of a witness charging the defendant with, the offence. 3 Binn. Rep. 88.
     3. The reprehensible practice of issuing blank warrants which once prevailed in England, was never adopted here. 2 Russ. on Cr. 512; Ld. Raym. 546; 1 Salk. 175; 1 H. Bl. R. 13; Doct. Pl. 529; Wood's Inst. 84; Com. Dig. Forcible Entry, D 18, 19; Id. Imprisonment, H 6,; Id. Pleader, 3 K 26; Id. Pleader, 3 M 23. Vide Search warrant.
     4. A bench warrant is a process granted by a court authorizing a proper officer to apprehend and bring before it some on charged with some contempt, crime or misdemeanor. See Bench warrant.
     5. A search warrant is a process issued by a competent court or officer authorizing an officer therein named or described, to examine a house or other place for the purpose of finding goods which it is alleged have been stolen. See Search warrant.

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