Criminal vs Civil Warrants

A warrant is a document that is sanctioned by the court. It authorizes an individual, usually a law enforcement officer, to perform a particular action against an individual. There are two types of warrants, and they are civil and criminal. A civil warrant is typically used in a civil lawsuit such as for the recovery of property or monetary relief. A criminal warrant is used when it is necessary to apprehend suspects or secure evidence in a criminal case.

Criminal Warrants

Arrest warrant: An arrest warrant is issued by a magistrate or judge when a prosecutor, such as a district attorney, files a criminal complaint against an individual. The complaint, which then leads to a warrant, must show probable cause and note the alleged crime and how it was committed.

Bench warrant: A bench warrant is issued by magistrates and judges in criminal and civil cases and mandates the person to be arrested. A bench warrant is issued when an individual misses a court appearance or does not follow through with a court order.

Search warrant: A warrant to search is issued by the court for the authorization of law enforcement officers to conduct a search of an individual’s place of residence, employment or body for the purpose of obtaining criminal evidence. The complaint must demonstrate probable cause in order to execute a search warrant, except in the case of “hot pursuit.”

Extradition warrant: An extradition warrant is a court-ordered arrest warrant that is granted for the purpose of moving a criminal to the state where the crime took place. The criminal, who is characterized as a fugitive, remains in custody until the transfer takes place.

Civil Warrants

Dispossessory warrant: A dispossessory warrant is more commonly known as an eviction warrant. After an attempt has been made to evict a tenant, the property owner may appear before a judge and petition the court for the right to a tenant’s property. If the warrant is granted, the property owner has the right to enter the premises and remove the tenant’s property.

Capais warrant: A capais warrant is issued if a defendant fails to pay a fine assessed after a guilty verdict. The warrant is intended to compel that person to take action and make the necessary amends. It is not a criminal warrant, but if a person is arrested with a capais warrant, it could lead to incarceration.

Warrant in debt: A warrant in debt is filed by one person against another for the purpose of establishing a court date that involves financial matters. This type of warrant is usually the first step in a wage garnishment case.

It is possible to have outstanding warrants against you without your knowledge. If you are involved in a traffic stop, any outstanding warrants will be highlighted when the police officer runs your driver’s license and vehicle registration. To check for outstanding warrants, you should petition your district and superior courts, and they will send you a copy of your record.

Article Contributed by Law Offices of Billy Skinner, Houston, TX.

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