What Is a Detainer Warrant?

By Cara O'Neill

Legal terms sometimes can be confusing, especially when the same legal term means two different things. Such is the case with term "detainer warrant." One meaning relates to landlord-tenant law, and the other relates to criminal law.

Eviction Detainer Warrant

In some states, such as Tennessee, when a property owner wants to evict a tenant, he must first give notice, known as a detainer warrant. A detainer warrant is not the same as an arrest warrant, however. It is the document that informs the tenant about the court date set in the eviction proceeding. The notification gives the tenant the opportunity to appear in court and tell the judge her side of the story.

Criminal Law Detainer Warrant

People who commit crimes sometimes do so in more than one city, or even in more than one state. Law enforcement agencies and the courts have a cross-agency system that lets them know when they have someone in custody who's also wanted in another jurisdiction. When someone finishes serving jail time in the first location, a check is done to see if that person has a detainer warrant. If the person does, rather than being released, he is transferred to the city or state in question to answer for criminal charges there.

About the Author

An attorney for more than 20 years, Cara O'Neill currently practices in the areas of civil litigation, family law and bankruptcy. She also served as an Administrative Law Judge and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of employment law, business law and criminal law for a well-known university. Attending the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, she graduated a National member of the Order of the Barristers - an honor society recognizing excellence in courtroom advocacy. She is currently licensed in the state of California.

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