Click to Schedule a Consultation
Colorado trial attorneys

What are the Requirements for an Arrest Warrant?

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP January 20, 2022

An arrest warrant is issued so that law enforcement can arrest an individual and hold them in custody. In order to obtain a warrant, there are certain steps that law enforcement must follow. If you were arrested and believe that law enforcement didn’t abide by the requirements, it’s a good idea to contact a skilled Boulder defense attorney right away. If there were errors made during the arrest or when your warrant was obtained, this could be helpful in obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. 

Obtaining an Arrest Warrant

To obtain an arrest warrant, law enforcement show a judge or a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed by the person for whom they are seeking the arrest warrant. This is often accomplished by way of a written affidavit. If the judge determines that probable cause exists, an arrest warrant will be issued, and law enforcement can arrest the individual.

The arrest warrant must (1) state the defendant’s name or, if unknown, a description or name by which the defendant can be identified with reasonable certainty; (2) identify the nature of the offense; (3) include the amount of bail if the offense is bailable; (4) command that the defendant be arrested and brought without unnecessary delay before the nearest available judge of a county or district court; and (5) be signed by the issuing judge. Colo. R. Crim. P. Rule 4; Colo. R. Crim. P. Rule 4.1.

What is Probable Cause?

To obtain an arrest warrant, police must show that probable cause exists. This means law enforcement must show that it is likely that a crime occurred and it’s likely that the person they’re trying to arrest committed that crime There doesn’t have to be anything resembling proof beyond a reasonable doubt at this point. The fact that an arrest warrant is granted by a judge only means that there is a reasonable belief that the crime was committed, and it was committed by a certain person.

Exceptions to the Arrest Warrant Requirement 

It’s important to know the details of how an arrest warrant is obtained, but it’s also important to understand that the police do not always need an arrest warrant to take someone into custody. Most arrests occur without an arrest warrant The following include some of the exceptions to the arrest warrant requirement:

  • A person has committed or is committing a crime in the officer’s presence in front of a police officer. In this case, the police officer can arrest the person right away.
  • The police officer has probable cause to believe that an individual committed a crime.

If you were arrested, and you believe the situation was handled illegally or improperly by the authorities, or if you think there may be a warrant out for your arrest and you need help, contact a criminal defense attorney today.