A warrant is a writ or an order issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement officials to perform an act that would normally violate a person’s individual rights, in the pursuit of resolving a crime. Warrants issued by a judge include bench, search, extradition, execution, and dispossessory. Although the name of each warrant may differ by state, each warrant is executed in the same manner.
Judges and magistrates for criminal or civil court cases can issue a bench warrant. A bench warrant mandates the immediate arrest of a person. Typically, judges issue bench warrants for a subject who deliberately avoided a court appearance or for failure to comply with a court order. Once a bench warrant has been issued, law enforcement officers can attempt to arrest the individual and bring the defendant before the judge.
A search warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement officers to search a person’s residence, work, vehicle, or body for evidence of a crime. Law enforcement must have probable cause to violate a person’s right to privacy. Based on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, most searches require a search warrant, with the exception of “hot pursuit.” If a criminal flees the scene of a crime and is followed by a law enforcement officer, the officer has the right to search the criminal’s property without a search warrant. This is to protect the public and law enforcement officers from harm.
An extradition warrant is an arrest warrant for a fugitive located in another state. After being arrested, law enforcement extradites the person back to the state in which the the crime was committed. Until the fugitive is physically extradited, the fugitive is held in custody to avoid the possibility of fleeing.
An execution warrant, also known as a death warrant, is the official order authorizing the execution of a person sentenced to the death penalty. The warrant specifies the time and place for the execution. The information on execution warrants change due to appeals and other circumstances. If the execution does not take place at the time fixed on the warrant, a new date is entered by the court.
A dispossessory warrant, also known as an eviction warrant, is used to evict a tenant. After many attempts to have the tenant move, the property owner may go before a judge and request the right to the tenant's property. When granted, the property owner is given the right to enter the premises and remove the tenant’s belongings.