While it is fairly obvious on its face what the difference between these two types of warrants is, there are some nuances that are not so obvious. While the differences may not be critical to your case, knowing the difference may be important to an attorney handling your case.
A search warrant is generally the warrant that is popularly referred to on television shows when a cop asks someone if they can come in to talk, and the reply is "not without a warrant". A search warrant is obtained by law enforcement as an investigative tool to obtain potential evidence to further develop a case against a known or unknown individual.
Cops have to show a judge that there is probable cause to believe that evidence pertinent to their investigation can be found in a certain place – a vehicle, house, boat, computer, etc. The warrant must state, with some specificity, what is to be searched for, where it can be found, and why there is a belief it can be found in that location. Searches pursuant to a warrant are limited to the locations specified in the warrant. If a judge thinks there is probable cause to believe the above, a judge will sign the warrant and law enforcement will execute it.
An arrest warrant is similar, but is much more limited even than a search warrant. An arrest warrant is obtained most often in felony cases. Once law enforcement has gathered enough evidence against a person to show probable cause that a particular person committed the crime(s) listed, then a judge will sign the warrant for arrest and law enforcement will actively look for the individual listed.
Sometimes warrants will allow for the arrest of all individuals at a particular residence, but these can prove to be problematic later if challenged. Arrests warrants must also describe, with some specificity, the individual to be arrested. A person's date of birth, last known residence, and age will be on the warrant along with other descriptive features such as height, weight, and hair and eye color.
If you have been the subject of a search warrant or have an arrest warrant out for you, it is imperative that you hire an attorney that can help you resolve your criminal case. Call Soler & Simon at (941) 444-5128 to speak with an experienced attorney.
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