Texas law enforcement in most cases must obtain a warrant before they take certain actions against a person or individuals. There are a few different types of warrants to be aware of and here is a quick overview of the warrants used in Texas.
If you believe that you, or somebody that you know has a warrant, we recommend that you do a Texas warrant search to know for sure so that you can take action on your own terms.
Officers must obtain a search warrant to gather evidence of a crime when searching individuals, their belongings, vehicles, or homes.
A search warrant must be ordered by a judge in the state of Texas. In order to obtain a search warrant from a judge, an officer needs to show what is called probable cause and a few other things.
In Texas, a search warrant is a written order issued by a magistrate allowing a search of a particular place for evidence of the alleged crime.
Texas Requirements for a Valid Search Warrant:
- Officer filed the warrant in good faith
- The warrant is based on reliable information that creates probable cause
- The warrant is granted by a neutral magistrate/judge
- The warrant must be narrow in scope and detail exact places that will be searched and what possibly can be seized
Searches done with a valid warrant do not violate civil rights. It is also important to know that searches done without a warrant do not always violate your civil rights.
If the search falls in an exception to the warrant requirement, it is still a lawful search. There are 7 reasons for an exception that allows law enforcement to search without a warrant.
- Searching a person's body after they have been lawfully arrested
- If evidence of a crime is in plain view
- If consent is given to search by the owner of the property
- Reasonable suspicion, otherwise known as stop & frisk
- Vehicle exception - the police officer must show reasonable suspicion for the search
- Emergencies - law enforcement may need to search for medication
- Hot pursuit - if someone is being chased by the police and they enter a building that building is allowed to be searched
All of the above reasons allow for a search without a warrant.
However, when a search violates the suspect's rights, it can be an illegal search. Those rights are protected in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Texas search and seizure laws. The result of an unlawful search is that any evidence found can be excluded from trial.
An arrest warrant also must be obtained from a judge, however, this type of warrant allows the officer to place you under arrest.
The officer must provide evidence that shows probable cause that a crime occured and that you are the person who committed the crime. Once an arrest warrant is issued, law enforcement is allowed to show up at your home, place of work, and place you under arrest.
For lesser offenses, it is important to know that they might possibly wait until you encounter an officer for an arrest to occur.
You can conduct a warrant search on yourself or someone you know, by either contacting your local police department or if you would like to remain anonymous, you can perform a warrant search on a public record search website.
A bench warrant is similar to an arrest warrant in that it allows law enforcement to arrest you immediately. The difference is that a bench warrant is issued directly by a judge.
Often due to a missed court date, here are a few other reasons bench warrants can be issued:
- Non-payment of child support
- Missing jury duty
- Contempt of court
- Violation of any court order
- Not honoring a subpoena to appear in court
- Failure to pay court fines
The Warrant Process in Texas
If you've been paying attention, you might just notice that many states have a very similar process for issuing warrants. First, a citizen has to be reasonably suspected of a crime. This can vary anywhere from carrying drugs to committing murder. After that, a peace officer has to request that a judge or magistrate issues a warrant. Warrants can allow for someone to be arrested, have their assets seized, or even be searched. There are some situations where the police officer doesn't need to wait for a warrant, but in many cases, a warrant is needed.
Warrants exist because police officers are not allowed to violate any citizen's rights without just cause, and citizens are protected from unlawful searches and seizures by the 4th amendment. By issuing a warrant, a judge or magistrate is giving a police officer permission to perform a lawful search or seizure. Arrests actually do count as seizures, because it's a seizure of the person being arrested.
When Can a Warrant be Issued In the State of Texas?
There are rules that dictate when a warrant can be issued for any search or seizure in any state, and those rules need to be followed carefully because if they aren't it can result in an entire case being thrown out. A judge or magistrate can issue a warrant or court summons in the state of Texas when:
- They are authorized by law to verbally order the arrest of an offender.
- Someone indicates that someone else has broken a law while speaking to a judge or magistrate.
- Any case named in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that specifically authorizes a judge or magistrate to issue a written warrant.
All warrants in the state of Texas must include a few things in order for them to be considered valid.
- It must have the name of the person to be arrested if known,
- If the name is not known it must contain a reasonable description of the person in question
- It must also indicate that the person in question has broken at least one law of the state of Texas, and list the law or laws that were violated.
- Finally, it must be signed by the magistrate and contain the name of the office that the magistrate works from somewhere in the warrant.
The name of the office can be in the body of the warrant or it can be connected with the signature. Without these things, the warrant is considered to be invalid and won't allow the search or seizure of anyone.
Where Can Warrants be Executed in Texas?
Warrants aren't always all-inclusive as far as where they can be executed. Some warrants can be executed anywhere in the state of Texas, while others can only be executed in specific counties. For the most part, any warrant issued by a judge or magistrate can be executed anywhere in the state, but they do have the power to specify certain counties.
Warrants can also be issued by the mayor of any incorporated city or town, but there are some big drawbacks to warrants issued this way.
Any warrant issued by a mayor can only be executed in the county it was issued in unless that warrant is endorsed by a judge or magistrate. If it is endorsed by a judge or magistrate, it can be executed in other counties.
The judge or magistrate can specify counties that the warrant can be executed like with warrants they issue themselves, but only a judge can endorse a mayor's warrant to be executed anywhere in the state.
While not required by federal law, some states do execute warrants if they find an offender with a Texas warrant. That could result in the offender being sent back to Texas for their crimes. This isn't something that's universal in all 50 states, so it's unlikely that, unless a federal crime was committed, a warrant issued in Texas would lead to a national search for the person. Even though it is unlikely, it is still possible. It depends on the severity of the crime that was committed and the laws of each individual state.
How are Warrants Executed in the State of Texas?
Anytime someone's name is run by a police officer, they check for warrants. If a warrant is found, the suspect is immediately arrested.
By law, the arresting officer is to bring in the defendant without any delay. The defendant must be taken before the judge or magistrate that issued the warrant or the judge or magistrate that is listed on the warrant. If that judge or magistrate is in a different county, the defendant must be brought before a judge or magistrate in the same county that they were arrested in.
If certain conditions are met, the arresting officer is allowed to take the defendant to a judge or magistrate in a different county than the one they were arrested in. It's important that whether or not the defendant can be moved to another county that everything happens without delay.
In the state of Texas, you can not be held for more than 180 days, roughly six months, before your trial. That means that not only is it a battle against the clock to make sure that the defendant is sat before the judge or magistrate that issued the warrant, but it's also something of a consideration for the defendant to make sure they aren't bounced around too much before they are taken to where they need to be.
For the time being, anyone arrested while having a warrant can be seen by the judge or magistrate by electronic means, meaning over a video call. This meeting allows the judge or magistrate to inform the defendant of their rights, such as the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and more.
Know the Law in Texas
The field of law is an incredibly intricate one, which is why there are so many people that dedicate their lives to the study and application of it. It's important to be sure that you totally understand what the laws have to say about how warrants are handled in your state, and here at Warrant Searches, we believe that it is our duty to share that kind of information with you. The more you understand the way the system works, the safer you'll be if you end up on the wrong side of the law.
***Regardless of which state that you live in it is always wise to contact an attorney for any questions that you may have when it comes to warrant laws or any other legal concerns. The content found on this website is only for informational purposes and is not to be mistaken for legal advice.