Types of Warrants and Procedures in Houston, Texas
Understanding your rights in the Texas criminal justice system
Warrants are an important part of the criminal justice system. Simply put, they are legal documents that give authorities the right to perform a certain act or search.
You should understand what warrants generally entail, whether you have one out for your arrest or a search procedure. It’s also important to know the process of obtaining a warrant. This way, you can discern whether they’re legally obtained or not.
If you have any questions about a warrant out for your arrest, we encourage you to contact Houston criminal defense attorney Neal Davis as soon as possible.
In the meantime, here are the different types of warrants common in Houston, Texas:
This judge-issued type of warrant is probably the most well-known and understood type of warrant. As its name suggests, it permits the arrest of a particular person on site. There should be probable cause for an arrest to issue this document. A police officer will submit an affidavit before the judge issues the arrest warrant.
Another reason for an arrest warrant is if the individual failed to appear in court.
It’s worth noting that authorities may not actively be looking for you if you have a warrant out for your arrest. Rather, officers will detain you if you’re stopped for another violation, such as a traffic stop.
Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant gives police officers the right to arrest you on sight. Typically, this type of warrant is issued when you have committed a criminal offense. However, it can also be for civil matters, for contempt of court, or failure to appear in hearings.
A search warrant allows police to search through your belongings and property. While this warrant is not the same as an arrest warrant or bench warrant, an arrest is still possible.
In a search warrant procedure, the police can search and seize your possessions to use for evidence against you. The authorities cannot search your home without this legal document; otherwise, it’s a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. There should be a “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed a crime before issuing a search warrant.
There are a few main types of search warrants:
• Judicial warrants. Also known as a “criminal warrant,” there is a need for probable cause before a judicial warrant is issued. Therefore, the detective or investigator should have some “proof” or evidence against you aside from a hunch.
• DNA warrants. A DNA warrant allows the agent to get a DNA sample from you, which can be a swab of saliva or mucus. Note that if you’ve been issued a search warrant for your home, this doesn’t allow the officer to take a DNA sample. They’ll need a separate DNA warrant for that.
• Administrative warrants. This type of search warrant is issued if there’s a violation of a civil code. For instance, if a health department failed to meet certain regulations, such as keeping their offices sanitized, then an administrative warrant may be issued. There should still be a probable cause for the search warrant to be issued; however, the organization may call forth its right to privacy.
Before a judge issues a search warrant, an officer must submit a written affidavit. The affidavit is under oath and should contain factual information only. This requirement is essential in issuing warrants of arrest, search, or bench.
What can make a search warrant invalid?
Valid search warrants should contain the following information:
• A description of the place or property that needs to be searched, including its complete address.
• A description of a person or thing (or both) that may require seizing.
• Facts, along with circumstantial evidence, establishing the need for a search.
• Purpose of the search and what it will yield.
A search warrant can be combined with an arrest warrant. If that’s the case, it should contain legal language derived from a penal statute. This means there was an offense committed that warrants an arrest. Meanwhile, the affidavit should be tailored to address the type of search warrant issued.
If the search warrant doesn’t meet the requirements above, it can be challenged. The Fourth Amendment regulates the search warrant process. Citizens of Houston, Texas are protected against unreasonable searches.
Most officers are required to have a valid search warrant before conducting a search and seizure. However, there are cases when the police may conduct a search without this document. For instance, they can search a premises if they have obtained consent from the person living on the property. Another exception is if the evidence is in plain sight and can be obtained without a warrant.
How a criminal defense lawyer can help
If you want to protect yourself against unlawful arrest or search, you need the help of a criminal defense lawyer. Many people may not even know there is a warrant of arrest sent out for them. Let our defense attorneys find out if there are warrants against you. This way, you will know the next course of action to take. Additionally, we will help you determine if the warrant was legally obtained.