Many reasons could cause you to be issued an arrest warrant, spanning from failing to appear for your court hearing to getting a jury warrant declared against you. Whatever your warrant entails, it could be quite difficult to deal with, and it's essential to receive legal advice to ensure you make the right decisions. If you have an outstanding warrant in Phoenix, Arizona, or have been accused of committing a crime, do not hesitate to contact us at Phoenix Criminal Attorney for guidance.
What is a Warrant in Arizona?
A warrant in Arizona is an order or document that authorizes a law enforcement body to conduct any activity that would otherwise be considered an infringement of someone's constitutional protections. It gives law enforcement officers the authority to search someone, seize their belongings, and even detain them. Judges and Magistrates have the authority to issue warrants as per the Arizona Judicial System. Nevertheless, before a court can grant a warrant, the authorities must show reasonable cause that the party against whom a warrant is issued has perpetrated an offense.
Probable cause is a level of actual evidence founded on verifiable facts that leads to a rational belief that an unlawful act has been done. Physical proof of the offense, testimonies from witnesses, and evidence that the person in question was in the vicinity at the moment when the offense took place are examples of proof that could be presented to establish probable cause.
When there isn't probable cause, the request for a warrant is invalid. The rationale for this is that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unjustified invasions of their privacy and rights.
Arizona Arrest Warrants
An arrest warrant is an order of the court that allows law enforcement agents to arrest someone. The probable cause should be proven for it to be granted by a Judge or the Magistrate.
An arrest warrant can be issued after:
- An indictment by a grand jury
- An independent judgment of probable cause by a judge, or
- The prosecution files a direct accusation, and the court finds reasonable cause to presume that a crime had been committed
Judges will grant an arrest warrant when the following conditions are met:
- The accused person failed to show up after being presented with a notice to appear/summons
- There's a high chance the suspect won't show up despite being served with a summons, or
- A summons can't be served promptly
The arrest warrant should contain the following information:
- Name of the subject to be taken into custody or, when no name has been provided, a generally identifying description of the suspect to be detained
- Outline the charges that will be brought against the suspect
- Specify if the charge is subject to any relevant victim's rights laws
- A signature by a superior court magistrate, judge, or deputy clerk
The warrant could also specify the amount of bond required for pre-trial discharge. If the crime is a felony offense, the warrant's order will only be a proposal. The bond sum indicated on the arrest warrant is final if the offense is a misdemeanor.
Arrest warrants in Arizona don't expire after they are issued. They can only be removed if it is squashed by the judge or when the suspect is apprehended.
How Law Enforcement Authorities Obtain Arrest Warrants
Police officers can obtain an arrest warrant by simply proving to an impartial and unbiased magistrate or judge that there's probable cause to think that an offense has been perpetrated and that the suspect being apprehended is the perpetrator. This commonly entails:
- Bringing a case before a grand jury and being found guilty, or
- Seeking an arrest warrant from the judge and filing a criminal case
The Execution of an Arrest Warrant
An arrest warrant is executed by police locating and arresting the person mentioned in the warrant. The person is then placed in custody until he or she can be taken before a judge or magistrate who issued the arrest warrant, or another judge or magistrate when that one isn't available.
Unless the arrest warrant specifies otherwise, the arrest could take place at any moment.
When a suspect is charged with a serious crime, police will usually go on the lookout for him or her. In lesser criminal offenses, law enforcement will execute the arrest warrant during their next encounter with the subject, such as during a traffic check.
The law enforcement officer doesn't need to possess the physical paperwork with him or her when serving the arrest warrant. However, when the defendant requests to take a look at the warrant issued against them, the officer needs to do so.
Meanwhile, the officer must state the nature of the charged offense as well as the existence of an existing arrest warrant for him or her. If the defendant is apprehended outside the state, the repatriation process could be used to bring him or her back into Arizona. During the first appearance in court, the warrant will be then submitted to the magistrate or judge.
Is it Possible For You to Get an Arrest Warrant Quashed?
An arrest warrant could be quashed (or canceled) in Arizona by submitting a Petition to Quash while demonstrating that the arrest warrant was illegal.
A warrant for arrest could be void if, for instance, it:
- Did not properly identify or name the accused
- Neither a judge nor a magistrate signed it
- Failed to mention the criminal charges
- Wasn't backed up by probable cause
In some Arizona cities, like Tempe, defendants can get an arrest warrant quashed by posting their bond. This advances the case but excludes the actual arrest. Other courts, such as the Superior Court of Arizona of Maricopa County, for instance, will not cancel a warrant just because the bail is paid.
An arrest warrant is usually quashed with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Anyone who discovers that an arrest warrant has been issued against him/her and then comes to court to try to resolve the matter on their own is most likely to be apprehended.
Finding Out If You Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant
If you fear you could have an outstanding warrant in Arizona, you need to confirm your suspicions. The legal ramifications of having an arrest warrant or a bench warrant filed against you could be severe, so you need to act quickly. If some of the following factors apply to your situation, you could have an outstanding warrant against you:
- You failed to appear in court for your hearing
- You did not follow a court's directives
- You were held in contempt of court or you violated your probation
- You have not made child support payments
- You didn't show up for jury duty
- You failed to take the stand as a witness during a trial
- You've been named as a suspect
There are lots of agencies that can look up outstanding warrants for you for a charge, but there is no reason to spend your hard-earned cash on information that is most likely available for free to the general public. You can conveniently perform a free search for outstanding warrants in the state using any PC with internet connectivity.
Online Warrant Search Through the Arizona Judicial Branch
The Arizona Judicial Branch's online Public Access Case Lookup is among the easiest and most convenient methods of acquiring a concise response for free if you believe you have an arrest warrant, a bench warrant, or a search warrant. For accuracy, the online public portal is brought up to date every week on Fridays.
You only require your first and last names, as well as your birth date, to look up any outstanding warrants in Arizona. If you know the county where the warrant was issued, you can refine your inquiry by choosing the corresponding county court using the drop-down menu option, although these details are not required. You could also browse using a case number if you do have one. The Arizona Judicial Branch's portal contains case data for 177 of Arizona's 184 courts.
Also, keep in mind that some case categories might not be available for public viewing. These comprise sealed cases, matters concerning unserved Orders of Protection, psychiatric health as well as probate matters, victim or witness details, juvenile delinquency court details, and charges originating from a local ordinance violation.
Contact the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS)
The Arizona Department of Public Safety has contact information designated to find those who have outstanding warrants. You only need to submit your first and last names, as well as your birth date, to check if you do have any outstanding warrants in the state and, if you do, which county granted the warrants. You can reach the Arizona Department of Safety warrant at 602-223-2233.
Call the Information Desk at the Criminal Court Administration
The centrally situated Maricopa County Judicial Branch in Arizona has contact details to assist with free warrant searches in Arizona. Call 602-506-8575 to reach the Criminal Court Administration Information Desk.
You should give your first as well as last name, and also your birth date. Please take note that this phone number is only for felony warrants issued in Maricopa County.
Contact the Relevant Authorities in Your Area
Our criminal defense experts advise against using this strategy since direct interaction with the investigative agency can result in unfavorable outcomes. However, there might not be a lot of public details available on existing warrants or criminal cases based on where you live in Arizona (or, more especially, where the warrant could have been granted).
If you can't obtain any details using the three techniques above, you can contact law enforcement agencies to see if you do have any outstanding warrants. Although you can inquire about outstanding warrants at the local law enforcement offices personally, it isn't preferred for understandable reasons because if you have an existing Arizona warrant, you may be apprehended at that moment.
Consult With An Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer
Consultation with a competent criminal defense lawyer is also a wonderful alternative for several reasons whenever it comes to ascertaining if you do have an existing warrant. Criminal defense attorneys are continuously in contact with the local as well as state authorities in place of their clients, so they understand how to obtain the most relevant details in the shortest amount of time.
After you've discovered the nature of the warrant against you, your lawyer can assist you in determining what steps to take next to resolve your legal troubles quickly and completely. A criminal defense attorney can often help by filing a petition to cancel the warrant.
Once you find out that you do have either one or maybe more warrants using the Public Access Case Lookup, you need to act swiftly. As we have said before, Arizona warrants don't expire, thus trying to remain hidden will not fix your situation. A regular traffic stop can easily show that you do have an outstanding warrant, which could result in your arrest.
When you find out you have an outstanding Arizona warrant, the wisest choice you can make is to get legal advice. While the situation can appear insignificant, if left unaddressed, it can result in disciplinary action, additional charges, expensive fines, and costs, or probation revocation.
How an Arrest Warrant Differs From Other Warrants
There are three kinds of warrants in Arizona:
- Arrest Warrants
- Bench Warrants
- Search Warrants
A Bench Warrant is a form of a warrant granted by the Court or Magistrate when a person is considered a justice fugitive. Bench warrants are commonly used to order someone to appear in court after missing a court appearance or hearing. It is better to apply to reschedule a court session if you are unable to attend the court. Otherwise, a bench warrant could be issued by the court. A bench warrant allows law enforcement authorities to arrest someone and present them before the judge.
If you get a ticket for a traffic violation or any other minor crime, you are required to show up for your court hearing at a specific time and date. If you do not appear, the judge could issue a bench warrant against you. This is known as a warrant for failure to appear. Failure to appear could be treated as a separate violation from the crime for which you were initially charged. Failure to Appear is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor if the offense you are charged with is a misdemeanor or minor crime. Failure to Appear is charged as a Class 5 felony when the alleged offense is a felony offense. If you do not follow a court order, such as failing to pay your fines on time, a bench warrant could be issued.
A bench warrant doesn't expire and stays in effect until the suspect is apprehended. When authorities arrest someone on a bench warrant, they have the option of holding them in custody until a magistrate or judge is ready to oversee the case. In this situation, the best course of action is to get legal guidance from a defense attorney. As a result, such a lawyer could be able to assist in ways such as:
- Petitioning the court to have the warrant quashed
- Preparing defenses against the suspect's warrant
- Making a schedule for how the suspect can surrender
- Contributing to the accused's discharge
You will not be arrested as a result of a search warrant. A search warrant indicates that the law enforcement authorities have convinced the judge that there's a good chance they'll uncover evidence of an offense or contraband, such as narcotics, among your belongings. A search warrant isn't an order for your arrest, but it is an indicator that you are being investigated for wrongdoing. Getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney can be a good idea if you know that the authorities have obtained a search warrant against you.
- Arrest warrants differ from search warrants in that the search warrants do not entitle the authorities to place the suspect under arrest like arrest warrants don't permit a full search by the police
- A bench warrant differs from an arrest warrant in that a bench warrant is granted by the court, typically without the involvement of police departments, and
- Bench warrants are for purported breaches of other legal procedures, such as conditions for probation or parole, protection orders, support payments, or failing to appear at a scheduled court date, whereas arrest warrants are issued for purported crimes
The Difference Between an Arrest Warrant and a Summons
The difference between an arrest warrant and a summons is that an arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement authorities to arrest a suspect. A summons simply instructs the defendant to appear in court before the magistrate. The arrest warrant functions similarly to a court summons, in that the subject is involuntarily and physically taken before the judge.
The criminal code in Arizona prefers to serve a summons instead of an arrest warrant when:
- The accused hasn't already been apprehended
- The defendant would be entitled to bond for the alleged crime, and
- There's a decent chance the accused will show up on his/her own accord
Find a Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you are the subject of a police investigation or have an arrest warrant against you, contact an experienced attorney to assist you in navigating the process and defending your rights. Our attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney will analyze your legal choices and build the best defense strategies for your specific case. Call us today at 602-551-8092.