Different Types of Warrants

Many people have seen it happen in a police show: the detective who has a handle on how the case may have played out shows up at the house of the suspect and begins to ask them questions that we, the audience, hope will lead to their capture so that justice can be served. Surely, just on the other side of the door is the incriminating evidence our hero needs to put their suspect away for good and do right by the aggrieved.

Though far from being the magic key to a successful television police case, warrants are complicated pieces of legal documentation that enable law enforcement to get information or access individuals they believe to be related to crime. While they are often portrayed as being positive aspects of policework in films and tv, they can also be misused and misapplied so that individuals served with them are actually being wronged.

Here this article will go into different types of warrants and what they mean for you.

Arrest Warrants Versus Search Warrants

There are two major distinguishing types of warrants: the first is an arrest warrant, which gives the police or other law enforcement the right to take a suspect into custody. That is, if an arrest warrant is issued by the state, the government is providing written confirmation that it believes the police have enough information to merit the removal of an individual from society, at least until they can prove their innocence. These warrants must be issued by a judge or a magistrate.

There are also search warrants, which are provided by a magistrate so that police or law enforcement can search a private home or space. A search warrant is not an arrest warrant, however: showing a search warrant does not give the police clearance to arrest you, but merely to have access to your otherwise privately owned and protected space. It also usually allows them to seize anything they believe to be of value to their case.

Warrant Controversies: No Knock Warrants

In recent years, there has been no small amount of press over no knock warrants, which do not require law enforcement to knock before entering private property. These have been particularly controversial in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, which points to the extreme discrepancies in how people of color (in particular, black people) are treated by police as suspicious in comparison to their white counterparts. Some legal firms specialize in taking action against this type of no-knock warrant.

Generally speaking, the topic of warrants is one which sparks plenty of conversation and interest. As a part of the legal system, they can be extremely useful, but it is crucial to remain educated on the topic and know your rights if you are ever presented with one: legal systems don’t work unless everyone all play their civic parts, hold up their responsibilities to be aware of their own rights, and hold their authorities to account.