Warrants Information Sheet

Warrants are signed by judges, and they give police the authority to search your home or arrest you when they see you.
There are three types of warrants that can be issued against you in California: an arrest warrant, bench warrant, and search warrant. While they have some similarities, they are used for different reasons.

In California specifically, arrest, bench, and search warrants are court orders issued by a court or judge.
Once a warrant is issued police officers must promptly search for the defendant. If found, the officers may or may not display the warrant to the defendant or if unavailable, advise the defendant of its existence and display the original or certified copy to the defendant at a later time if requested, usually by the defendant’s attorney.

A California arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest and detain you if they suspect you of committing a crime outside of an officer's presence.

Judges issue arrest warrants based on:

  •         evidence presented to them by a peace officer and/or a District Attorney, or
  •         following a grand jury indictment.


In order to be valid, a California arrest warrant must include:

  •         name of the defendant,
  •         crime which he/she is accused of committing,
  •         time of issuance,
  •         city or county of issuance,
  •         signature and title of the judge, and
  •         name of the court.


While in many cases, warrants are issued for the arrest of criminal suspects, the majority of warrants in California are issued as a result of an individual's noncompliance. An attorney is always recommended to ensure a prompt and efficient outcome.