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Arrest Warrant in California? Here's how to handle it


WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE AN ARREST WARRANT IN CALIFORNIAIn California, you can be arrested with or without a warrant if you have allegedly committed a crime. For instance, if you commit a California DUI in front of an officer, they can arrest you without a warrant. However, if an officer has reason to suspect that you have committed a crime and there is no immediate arrest, they may seek an arrest warrant from a judge after conducting an investigation.

If you suspect that there might be an active warrant for your arrest in California, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. We can help you determine the following information:

  • Whether or not there is an active warrant for your arrest
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  • The reason or charges for which the warrant was issued
  • The amount of bail that has been set, if any.

In certain cases, we may be able to take you directly to court and resolve the arrest warrant, without the need for you to spend time in jail.

We are providing legal assistance throughout the state of California, covering a wide range of locations, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Glendale, Torrance, Beverly HillsVan Nuys, Woodland Hills, Pasadena, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Ventura, Manhattan Beach, Whittier, Downey, Orange County, San Fernando, Riverside, West Covina, Lancaster, Pomona, Burbank, Inglewood, Norwalk, Palmdale, Monterey, Santa Clarita, La Puente, Walnut Creek, Westlake Village, San Bernardino County

This article aims to provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the process of issuing, executing, and clearing arrest warrants. Our team of California criminal defense attorneys will offer their expertise on the matter.

We will be addressing the following frequently asked questions regarding arrest warrants:

What is A California Arrest Warrant?

If a crime is suspected to have been committed outside an officer’s presence, a California arrest warrant empowers law enforcement officers to apprehend and hold you.

California judges grant arrest warrants on the basis of evidence presented to them by a peace officer and/or a District Attorney.

Judges can also issue arrest warrants in response to a grand jury indictment.

For a California arrest warrant to be considered valid, it must contain the following details:

  • The defendant’s name.
  • The crime they are accused of committing,
  • The time of issuance
  • The city or county of issuance
  • The judge’s signature and title,
  • And the name of the court.

Who Has The Authority To Issue An Arrest Warrant?

A judge…by one of two ways.

Arrest Warrants in California Issued After a Declaration of Probable Cause

In cases where a law enforcement official has reason to believe that you have committed a crime (not in their presence), they may seek to obtain an arrest warrant based on their declaration and/or the District Attorney’s recommendation.

To obtain an arrest warrant, the law enforcement officer must establish “probable cause,” which is a legal standard indicating a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. The officer must present a compelling case to the District Attorney, indicating that you are likely to have committed the offense. If an arrest warrant is issued prior to the filing of charges, it is known as a Ramey warrant.

Once the District Attorney has assessed the evidence presented by the officer and agrees that you should be arrested, they will present the case to a judge for the issuance of an arrest warrant. If the judge is satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that you have committed the offense, they will grant the warrant, provided that the crime has indeed occurred and that you are the alleged offender.

Arrest Warrants in California: Issued After a Grand Jury Indictment

The second, less frequently used method for a judge to issue an arrest warrant is through a grand jury indictment. In certain cases, a grand jury may be convened to evaluate whether there is sufficient evidence to charge an individual with a crime. If the grand jury determines that there is probable cause to believe the person committed the offense, an indictment will be triggered, leading the judge to issue an arrest warrant.

While the arrest warrant is issued by a judge, its execution is carried out by law enforcement officers.

Please note: If the police are attempting to arrest a guest in your home, they must have a search warrant to do so.

How Can I Check If I Have An Arrest Warrant?

A search can be conducted by individuals in California to determine if there are any warrants issued for their arrest.


It’s important to note that when a judge issues an arrest warrant, it gets entered into a specific website by the clerk of court (which can vary based on the case). This means that individuals can conduct a search on these websites to check if there is an arrest warrant issued against them.

One can perform a search on the following websites to determine if there is an arrest warrant:

  • the website of the local sheriff
  • the website of the local court
  • the website of the Superior Court of California.

Individuals can conduct a self-criminal background check to determine if they have a pending warrant.

Additionally, individuals in California have the option to seek advice from a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Cyrus Tabibnia to determine if there is an active arrest warrant against them. A knowledgeable defense attorney can not only inform the person about the warrant’s existence but also suggest the most appropriate course of action to take in case of a warrant.

What Steps Can The Police Take To Execute An Arrest Warrant?

There are several steps that the police can take to execute an arrest warrant. They can conduct surveillance and gather information on the suspect’s whereabouts, and they can also enlist the help of other law enforcement agencies to assist in the search. The police can also use force if necessary to apprehend the suspect, and they can enter private property if they have a search warrant or if they believe the suspect is inside. Additionally, the police can utilize electronic monitoring devices and stakeout locations in order to catch the suspect.

Typically, the two most common locations where individuals are arrested on a warrant in California are their homes and their places of work or business.

If Arrest Warrants Executed at a Person’s Residence

In California, if police officers try to carry out an arrest warrant in your residence and think they need to use force because you haven’t opened the door after they announced themselves, they must have reasonable cause to believe that you, the warrant’s subject, are present. However, if the police are trying to arrest a visitor in your house, they require a search warrant to do so.

Are Officers Required To Display A Warrant?

Please note, the officers who carry out a warrant are not required to have a physical copy of it. Instead, they can demonstrate that they were legally informed about the warrant’s existence. This often occurs when an officer stops someone for a traffic violation and discovers that the person has an outstanding warrant after running their driver’s license.

After being arrested, you will typically be handcuffed and transported to a jail. Nevertheless, there are situations where this general practice may not apply.

A Summons in Lieu of An Arrest Warrant

On certain occasions, the prosecutor may ask for a summons instead of an arrest warrant. In such cases, you may receive a notice in the mail or be served by a process server, informing you to appear in court on a specific date. By issuing a summons, you have the chance to go before a judge without being arrested.

If you have no other outstanding warrants and if the alleged felony charge does not involve violence or firearms, you may receive a summons instead of a warrant. This is one situation where a summons may be issued instead of a warrant. Another exception is for certain misdemeanor crimes.

Cite And Release for Some Misdemeanor Offenses

The majority of misdemeanor offenses are classified as “cite and release” cases. When you receive a citation and release, it means that you are not arrested and do not have to go through a formal booking process, which involves fingerprinting, booking photos, and so on. Instead, you are released on the basis of a promise to appear before the judge on a specified date and time.

There are exceptions to the “cite and release” procedure, including cases where the alleged crime involves:

  • Domestic violence
  • Drunk driving
  • Additionally, if you have another outstanding warrant for your arrest or cannot provide adequate evidence of your identification.

You will not be cited and released but will instead be formally arrested.

It’s important to keep in mind that the situations listed above are only examples and not an exhaustive list of circumstances that may disqualify you from being eligible for a cite and release procedure.

Regardless of the procedure used for your arrest, you will eventually have to appear before the judge who issued your warrant. If you were arrested for a felony, you will appear before a judge in the same county. In the case of a misdemeanor, you will appear before the judge who issued your warrant.

Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, you will eventually have to appear before the judge who issued your warrant. If you were arrested for a felony, you will appear before a judge in the same county. In the case of a misdemeanor, you will appear before the judge who issued your warrant.

If you fail to appear in court, a bench warrant will likely be issued for your arrest in California, which can result in various penalties such as:

The Police Must Execute an Arrest Warrant if Issued by a Judge

After an arrest warrant is issued, it becomes the responsibility of the officer to carry out the arrest. If the officer deliberately chooses not to execute the warrant, they can face legal repercussions, including prosecution for contempt of court.


Similarly, it’s important to note that the arrest warrant should be executed within a reasonable timeframe. Failure to do so may result in a dismissal of the charges against you based on the violation of your right to a speedy trial.

You May get Your Case Dismissed if The Cops Wait Too Long to Arrest You

Let’s say a warrant was issued for your arrest in 2010 in Los Angeles County for drug possession. However, the police didn’t arrest you until 2016, even though you had multiple encounters with law enforcement during that time, such as getting pulled over for a traffic violation.

Throughout those years, you lived in the same neighborhood, maintained the same job, and had a valid California driver’s license. Despite all of this, the police made no attempt to locate and arrest you until six years later.

Based on these circumstances, you may have a case for dismissal of your drug possession charges. Your criminal defense attorney could file a “Serna Motion” to argue that the delay in your arrest violated your right to a speedy trial and that you suffered prejudice as a result of the delay, such as potential witnesses forgetting important details about the case.

If your attorney can successfully argue that the police and prosecution were primarily responsible for the delay and that you were prejudiced by it, the court may dismiss your charges.

What Time of Day (or Night) Can Police Execute a California Arrest Warrant?

The execution of an arrest warrant is subject to certain regulations regarding the permissible time of day. While felony warrants can be executed without any time restrictions, misdemeanor warrants are only allowed to be executed between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. There are certain exceptions to the restricted time frame for executing misdemeanor warrants. These exceptions include:

  • Executing the warrant in a public place,
  • Being already detained on another lawful matter,
  • Or if the warrant specifically states that it may be executed at any time.

After an arrest, the state is required to present you before a judge “without undue delay”, which generally translates to within 48 hours of your arrest, except for Sundays and holidays. However, certain additional exceptions may also be applicable.

If You Get Arrested in A County Other Than The One Issuing The Arrest Warrant

If you are arrested in a county other than the one where the arrest warrant was issued, specific procedures are applied. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the arresting officer must promptly inform you of your right to be presented before a judge in the county where you were arrested. This must be done without unnecessary delay.

If you select that choice, you’ll need to pay the bail amount stated in your arrest warrant. After posting bail, you’ll receive instructions to appear in court before the judge who issued the warrant on a specific date within 25 days.

  • If there’s no bail amount mentioned in your felony arrest warrant, or
  • if you decide not to post bail, or
  • if you don’t request to appear before a judge in the county where you were arrested,

You’ll be transported to the county where your warrant was issued within a maximum of five court days.

This information applies to both misdemeanor and felony arrest warrants, but there is one main difference in how they are handled, and that is related to bail. If you opt to appear before a judge in the same county where you were arrested and the warrant doesn’t specify a bail amount, that judge has the authority to determine and accept your bail.

If you are aware that the court is looking for you and you decide to run away, you will be labeled as a “fugitive from justice.”

What Happens To My Arrest Warrant if I Leave California or The Country?

If you are aware that the authorities are looking for you and you decide to run away, you will be labeled as a “fugitive from justice,” even if you believe that you are innocent of any wrongdoing. It’s important to know that fugitives are subject to extradition, which means they can be sent back to the state they fled from, regardless of why they left in the first place.

Extradition is a legal process of returning a fugitive from their hiding place to the state or country where they are accused of committing a crime. In other words, if you decide to run away and are eventually caught, not only will you still have to deal with the original criminal charges against you, but you could also face additional penalties for fleeing from the court. It’s important to understand the consequences of running from the law and to face your charges in a responsible manner.

On the other hand, If you’re not aware of a warrant out for your arrest, you may not be classified as a fugitive. This can impact the way and time frame in which you are extradited back to California to answer for the charges against you.

The rules that govern extradition in California can be intricate and complicated. However, you have the right to a hearing to dispute the extradition procedure before you’re sent back to California. It’s crucial to seek guidance from a criminal defense lawyer like Cyrus Tabibnia who has expertise in this field if you want to effectively challenge an extradition order. He can provide you with valuable advice and support throughout the process.

Will Bail Be Set If I Have An Arrest Warrant?

In most cases, yes. If a California arrest warrant is issued, the judge is required to indicate the bail amount on the warrant itself for bailable offenses. It’s important to note that only a few types of crimes do not allow for bail. There are a few types of crimes in California that do not allow for bail. These include:

  • capital crimes, which carry the possibility of the death penalty.
  • Felony offenses involving violence or sexual assault if there is a high likelihood that someone else would be harmed if you were released on bail.
  • Additionally, felony offenses where you threatened someone with significant bodily harm and are likely to carry out that threat if released also fall under this category.

In all these cases, bail is not an option.

As long as you are not being accused of a crime that disallows bail, you will have the right to post bail if you are arrested on an outstanding warrant. The amount of bail will be determined based on the bail schedule of the county where the warrant was issued.

Once you post bail, you will be released from custody. However, there are situations where your criminal defense attorney may be able to argue for a lower bail amount or an “O.R.” release. This means that you would not have to pay bail, but would be required to make a promise to attend all future court proceedings. An O.R. release is also referred to as a release on your own recognizance.

It’s important to know that being unable to afford bail is no longer grounds for detention in California. To justify detention, there must be clear and convincing evidence that it’s necessary to protect public safety.

Can An Attorney Prevent The Issuance of An Arrest Warrant?

If you’re being investigated for a crime, a California warrants defense lawyer can take steps to try to prevent charges from being filed against you. They can conduct a thorough investigation of the case and gather evidence that supports your innocence. By presenting your side of the story to the prosecutors, they may be convinced not to file criminal charges against you. This process is commonly referred to as a “pre-file investigation,” and it can help safeguard your rights and freedom.

In some cases, the prosecutor may proceed with filing criminal charges despite our efforts. Alternatively, you may already have an arrest warrant issued against you. However, we can still be of assistance in preventing a potentially humiliating situation such as being arrested at your workplace. We can even bring you to the court where the warrant was issued and request the judge to reduce bail or grant you an OR release.

Appearing in court voluntarily offers two significant advantages. Firstly, it can help you gain the favor of the judge, which can result in a lower bail or release on your promise to attend future court dates. Secondly, it can save you from the humiliation of being arrested in the presence of your loved ones, colleagues, or acquaintances.

Can I Surrender Myself Directly To The Court If I Have An Arrest Warrant?

However, it is important to be cautious when turning yourself in. Keep in mind that judges have heard countless excuses, and being suspected of a crime already puts you in a difficult position. If you choose to turn yourself in alone, you may be taken to jail right away.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge in California warrants is crucial to effectively persuade a judge to grant an O.R. release or lower your bail. These attorneys are familiar with the most successful arguments and evidence that can help your case. They can even have the warrant recalled and quashed before any punishment is given. So, if you want to increase your chances of avoiding jail time and clearing your name, it’s essential to have a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side.

How Can I Fight Against An Illegal Arrest Warrant?

It can be challenging to have your charges dismissed based on the laws governing warrants, as they often involve complex legal intricacies.

If you have reason to believe that you were arrested on an unlawful warrant or that the warrant was unlawfully executed, it may be possible to either reduce or dismiss your charges. However, the extent to which evidence can be excluded from the case will determine the outcome.

Merely having an illegal arrest or execution of a warrant does not automatically guarantee a dismissal of your charges. For instance, if your arrest warrant lacked a “probable cause declaration,” you may still be detained on criminal charges.

Your Case May Benefit From Evidence of Police Misconduct

Your defense attorney in a California arrest warrant case could argue that any evidence obtained after an illegal arrest should be disqualified from use in the trial.

If your warrant was unlawfully executed, such as being arrested outside of the allowable hours or not being presented before a judge within the required timeframe, your case would not automatically be dismissed.

However, if your attorney can successfully argue that the officer’s misconduct was unjust or biased against you, you may have the opportunity to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain.

In summary, excluding sufficient evidence (even if it’s based on legal technicalities) can significantly increase your chances of reducing or dismissing your charges.

Your Case May Benefit From Evidence of Police Misconduct

In cases where you have been wrongly arrested (such as in a case of mistaken identity) and detained after the warrant’s execution, your California criminal warrant lawyer may file a writ of habeas corpus on your behalf as a means of challenge.

In simpler terms, a writ of habeas corpus notifies the judge that you claim to have been unlawfully detained, providing you with a chance to present evidence supporting your claim before the court.

Your Case May Benefit From Evidence of Police Misconduct

If you are facing charges with any crime, it’s crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. These cases can be complex, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe, including imprisonment, fines. A criminal defense lawyer can provide you with guidance and representation throughout the legal process, helping you understand your options, building a strong defense, and working to protect your rights. They can also help you navigate any potential collateral consequences, such as loss of employment, damage to your reputation, and strained personal relationships. If you are facing crime charges in Southern California, do not hesitate to call Cyrus Tabibnia. He is providing legal assistance throughout the state of California, covering a wide range of locations, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Glendale, Torrance, Beverly HillsVan Nuys, Woodland Hills, Pasadena, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Ventura, Manhattan Beach, Whittier, Downey, Orange County, San Fernando, Riverside, West Covina, Lancaster, Pomona, Burbank, Inglewood, Norwalk, Palmdale, Monterey, Santa Clarita, La Puente, Walnut Creek, Westlake Village, San Bernardino County

Cyrus S Tabibnia

Cyrus S Tabibnia

The Tabibnia Law Firm retains years of experience successfully representing individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes,Theft Crimes, Crime Against Children, Driving Crimes, Rape Crimes, driving under the influence (DUIs), domestic violence cases, drug possession cases, state and federal crimes, white color crimes, driving on a suspended license offenses, violent crimes, sex crimes, Forgery and all other criminal defense cases throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, San Fernando Valley, Ventura County and Riverside County. Call for a consultation today: 866-713-2159

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