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The Quick Guide to Search Warrants in California

Warrants play a crucial role in ensuring that the interests of justice are served. They aid in defending you against unfair and intrusive police operations. In California, there are three major categories of warrants: search, arrest, and bench. It is essential to comprehend the purpose of each of these warrants and the circumstances under which they may be granted.


You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to not be subjected to illegal police searches. The Constitution specifies expressly that this privilege “must not be infringed, and warrants must not be issued issued unless there is probable cause.” While a warrant is not always required to conduct a legitimate search, officers are strongly urged to get one. Why? The presumption is that unwarranted searches are unjustified. In a motion to suppress, it is more probable that evidence uncovered during an unlawful search will be contested. Obtaining a search warrant allows police to justify the search and safeguard obtained evidence.

Search Warrant Conditions

Warrants may be issued only if there is probable reason indicating criminal behavior. A police officer must submit a petition formally to a local court in order to acquire a search warrant. The petition must contain a statement of probable cause in writing. The police officer must essentially justify (a) their need for the warrant and (b) their belief that evidence exists in a particular area.

The petition will be studied by a magistrate who will then decide whether or not there is probable cause. If the magistrate is not persuaded that a search is justified, the application will be denied. If there is reasonable suspicion, the magistrate will grant a search warrant. This warrant permits the police to conduct a search.

Restrictions to a Search Warrant

A warrant does not authorize the police to undertake a thorough search of an individual or his property. Officers must comply to the very limited scope of the warrant. Warrants are only legitimate if they are “specific.” This simply implies that the search warrant must be limited to certain individuals, locations, and objects. Generally speaking, officers are prohibited from broadening a search beyond the limitations of the warrant itself. Objects, evidence, or data collected beyond the warrant’s scope may be liable for suppression.

The criterion of “particularity” is not universal, there are exceptions. The police may search and confiscate goods that are readily visible. These things are not necessarily within the warrant’s scope, but officers chance to discover them during the search nevertheless. Items in plain view must be seen without police tampering. On a study table, stuff would likely be plainly visible. However, if these items were concealed by a fabric, they would not be seen. To view the stolen property, the police would need to remove and shift the fabric.


You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from illegal seizures. However, California police does not always need arrest warrants. When police physically observe a crime or have reasonable grounds to think a particular individual has conducted himself in a criminal manner, they are most likely to make an arrest without a warrant. If an officer is uncertain as to the existence of probable cause, or if a substantial amount of time has elapsed since the commission of a crime, they may elect to obtain an arrest warrant.

Arrest Warrant Requirements

By submitting a formal petition with the local court, police may obtain an arrest warrant. The petition must include a written statement of probable cause. The officer may also submit a verbal statement in support of the warrant application. A magistrate will analyze the petition and decide whether or not there is probable cause. If sufficient evidence indicates that a crime has been committed by you, an arrest warrant will be issued.

Additionally, arrest warrants must be specific. Erroneous arrest warrants might render subsequent arrests illegitimate. An arrest warrant must contain the following information to be considered valid:

  • The identity of the individual to be arrested
  • The crime they have allegedly committed
  • Particulars about the probable reason supplied for the issuance of the warrant
  • The time and location where the warrant was issued
  • A valid authorization signature


The time, place, and circumstances related to the serving of an arrest warrant is governed by certain laws and regulations. The particulars may vary depending on the charges being a misdemeanor or a felony.

The police cannot just arrive your residence with an arrest warrant. Unless a court has authorized midnight service, arrest warrants may only be served between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Since felonies are the most severe offences, felony arrest warrants may be executed at any time of day.


Bench warrants are arrest warrants issued immediately by a judge when a court order or direction is disobeyed. This form of warrant is often issued when a judge believes that you have evaded your legal obligation to appear in court. If you do not appear in court at the designated date and time, do not pay a fine, or are considered to be in contempt of court, then a judge may issue a bench warrant.

The easiest approach to prevent a bench warrant is to appear in court when you are required to do so by law. Avoiding court can only exacerbate your legal problems.


How can you determine whether an arrest warrant has been issued for you? There are many techniques to determine whether or not criminal proceedings have been begun against you.

Los Angeles Superior Court: Conduct a search on the website of the Los Angeles Superior Court to see whether you are listed in an active criminal case. If you have an outstanding warrant, there is a good probability that a case may emerge.

Los Angeles Clerk: You may also contact a local Los Angeles criminal court to see whether or not you have outstanding warrants. A basic search may be conducted by the Clerk using your name and other identifying information.

The Los Angeles Police Department may inform you whether a warrant has been issued in your name.

A background check conducted by the California Department of Justice will also reveal the existence of any outstanding warrants in your name.

There are several private websites that provide information about outstanding warrants. These websites may charge to do a search and may not be current. The best choice is to go straight to a court in Los Angeles.


In Los Angeles, have you lately been issued with a search or arrest warrant? If so, you must immediately see an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. will fight to safeguard the rights you possess. Contact us immediately to arrange a free consultation. We will examine the specifics of your case and identify the optimal defense approach.

For additional information, please call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm or send us an email at our contact page.

Corpus Christi Criminal Defense Lawyer

Alex R. Hernandez Jr. PLLC is client-focused, results-driven, and wholly committed to achieving the best outcome possible for your criminal law case. He specializes in defending a wide variety of criminal offenses, including DUIs, drug crimes, white-collar crimes, domestic violence, federal crimes, and juvenile crimes.

Call 866-634-1092 for your free consultation today

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