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How Long Does It Take To Get a Warrant?

Warrants are a crucial component in the criminal justice system, ensuring that law enforcement officers undergo a system of checks and balances before they can conduct actions that can infringe on a person’s rights such as arresting them or seizing their property. On Long Island, NY, it’s important for residents to understand the warrant process including the different types of warrants, their purposes, and the potential consequences of having an outstanding warrant. 

Working with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney can help give you more insight into the process of obtaining and processing a warrant in New York. An attorney can also assist you in fighting a warrant and safeguarding your rights under the law. Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys at Edward Palermo Criminal Defense is dedicated to helping New York residents navigate the legal system. For more information, contact us today at (631) 265-1052 or (516) 280-2160 to schedule a consultation.

What is a Warrant?

Warrants in New York refer to legal orders that authorize law enforcement officials to take a particular action, such as arresting a suspect, conducting a search, or seizing property. These warrants are typically issued when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the individual or property in question is related to that crime. 

Probable cause means that there must be enough evidence to support a reasonable belief that the individual committed the crime in question or that the property being searched or seized has been involved in a crime. The judge or magistrate reviews the evidence, signed affidavits, and statements provided by law enforcement officers, and, if satisfied that probable cause exists, issues the warrant.

Types of Warrants in New York

There are several types of arrest warrants in the state of New York, including:

  • Bench Warrants: issued by a judge when an individual fails to appear in court or violates court orders such as bail or probation. These warrants allow law enforcement officers to arrest the individual and bring them to court to answer for the violation.
  • Criminal Arrest Warrants: issued when there is probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime, and their arrest is necessary for public safety or to ensure their appearance in court.
  • Search Warrants: authorize law enforcement officers to search a particular location for evidence related to a crime. Although not technically an arrest warrant, if the evidence is found during the search that warrants an arrest, the individual may be taken into custody.
  • Extradition Warrants: issued when an individual is wanted for a crime committed in another state or country. These warrants authorize law enforcement officers in New York to arrest and return the accused to the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.

Reasons for Requesting an Arrest Warrant

Becoming aware that there is an existing warrant for your arrest can be a stressful and confusing situation. It is important to understand that there are a number of reasons why an arrest warrant can be requested under the law including:

  1. The presence of probable cause indicating that an individual has committed a specific crime.
  2. To ensure compliance with court-mandated appearances, such as scheduled hearings or trial dates.
  3. To enforce the terms of bail, probation, or other court orders.
  4. To facilitate the extradition of a suspect who is wanted for a crime committed in another state or country.

Getting the help of an experienced attorney is beneficial in protecting your rights and ensuring that the arrest warrant is legally valid. An attorney can also help you understand your options following an arrest.

Consequences of an Outstanding Arrest Warrant

Having an outstanding arrest warrant can carry serious consequences, some of which include:

  1. Arrest: Law enforcement officers have the authority to arrest an individual with an outstanding arrest warrant at any time, and this can result in detention until a hearing can be scheduled.
  2. Additional legal consequences: Failure to address an outstanding arrest warrant may lead to additional criminal charges or enhancements to existing charges, resulting in extended jail time or increased penalties if convicted.
  3. Employment: Employers may run background checks that detect outstanding warrants, which can lead to job loss or difficulties in finding employment.
  4. License suspension: An outstanding arrest warrant can result in the suspension or revocation of professional licenses or a driver’s license.
  5. Travel restrictions: Traveling outside the country with an outstanding arrest warrant may attract the attention of immigration officers, leading to detention or deportation.

Having a thorough understanding of how arrest warrants work is essential for residents to ensure they swiftly address and manage any outstanding warrants. By doing so, they can avoid the serious consequences associated with outstanding arrest warrants and maintain a clean record.

The Process of Obtaining an Arrest Warrant

To obtain an arrest warrant, the police must undergo a series of steps, including conducting an investigation, applying for the warrant, and receiving approval from a judge. The different steps ensure a system of checks and balances that requires law enforcement officials to satisfy their legal obligation to prove probable cause before taking a person into custody. 

Police Investigations and Probable Cause

The first step in obtaining an arrest warrant is for law enforcement officers to conduct an investigation of a crime. This involves gathering evidence and identifying potential suspects. Once the police have enough evidence to establish probable cause, they can begin the process of applying for an arrest warrant. Probable cause is a legal requirement that mandates the police to possess a reasonable belief, backed by factual evidence and circumstances, indicating that a suspect has committed a crime.

During the investigation, police officers may interview witnesses, collect physical evidence, and use other investigatory tools to build their case. They may also work with other law enforcement agencies, such as local or state investigators, to help support the investigation. The goal of the investigation is to gather enough evidence to establish probable cause, which serves as the legal foundation for obtaining an arrest warrant.

Application for the Arrest Warrant

Once the police have established that there is probable cause to believe that a suspect has committed a crime, they can move forward with the application for an arrest warrant. In this step, law enforcement officers prepare an affidavit, which is a written statement that contains the facts and circumstances supporting the warrant, such as witness statements, background information on the suspect, and evidence that has been collected.

The affidavit must establish probable cause and include the following information required for the warrant:

  1. The suspect’s name, along with a physical description or photograph
  2. A description of the crime or offense that the suspect is alleged to have committed
  3. A detailed explanation of the evidence or information supporting a probable cause finding
  4. An assurance that the information in the affidavit is accurate and reliable

An affidavit typically includes language that states that the person creating the affidavit – known as the affiant – is swearing to the legitimacy and accuracy of the information held in the affidavit and that they are open to prosecution for perjury if there are falsehoods included.

Role of the District Attorney

In some cases, law enforcement officers work closely with the district attorney’s office in preparing the affidavit and application for the arrest warrant. The district attorney, who serves as the chief legal officer for the jurisdiction in which the warrant is sought, can offer guidance to ensure that the affidavit is legally sound and that the warrant application meets the necessary legal requirements.

Judge’s Review and Approval

After the affidavit is prepared, it is submitted to a judge or magistrate for review. The judge has the authority to issue the arrest warrant if they find that there is probable cause to believe that the suspect committed the crime in question.

Criteria for Approval

The judge will review the affidavit in detail and assess whether the facts and circumstances outlined in it establish probable cause. The judge must ensure that the warrant application meets the legal requirements and that the evidence provided is sufficient to support the claim that the suspect committed the crime.

Possible Rejections and Modifications

If the judge determines that the arrest warrant application does not meet the required legal standards or that there is insufficient evidence to establish probable cause, they may reject the application or ask for additional information or modifications. In these cases, law enforcement officers will need to continue their investigation and gather additional evidence to strengthen their warrant application.

However, if the judge approves the arrest warrant, law enforcement officers can execute the warrant and arrest the suspect. After the arrest, the legal process moves forward, with the suspect being charged and eventually facing trial for the alleged crime. The district attorney can also withdraw all charges for any legal reason, after which the suspect can be released. 

Overall, the process of obtaining an arrest warrant is a critical part of the criminal justice system, ensuring that law enforcement officers have the proper legal authority to detain individuals suspected of committing crimes.

Timeline for Getting an Arrest Warrant on Long Island, NY

When trying to obtain an arrest warrant, there are a lot of moving pieces that need to be addressed, especially the standard need for probable cause to be met. A judge would not issue an arrest warrant until law enforcement has sufficiently satisfied the legal requirements. This requirement safeguards a person’s individual right to freedom. On Long Island, New York, as in other jurisdictions across the United States, certain factors can impact the length of time it takes for police to obtain an arrest warrant. These factors include:

Complexity of the Investigation

The time it takes to gather enough evidence to establish probable cause for an arrest warrant can vary depending on the complexity of the investigation. In simpler cases, such as those involving minor offenses or crimes with clear and readily available evidence, it may take less time for law enforcement officers to gather the necessary information needed to present to a judge for the issuance of an arrest warrant. Conversely, more complex investigations—such as those involving multiple suspects, indirect evidence, or extensive criminal networks—may require a more prolonged investigation before there is sufficient probable cause to warrant an arrest.

Availability of Necessary Information

In some cases, the timeline for obtaining an arrest warrant may be contingent on the availability of crucial information. For instance, if law enforcement officers are reliant on information from informants, cooperating witnesses, or technological resources such as surveillance footage or phone records, it may take additional time for them to collect and analyze these data points. Furthermore, police may be forced to wait on results from forensic analysis or other scientific testing methods that could provide crucial evidence to support the application for an arrest warrant. 

Case Backlog in the Court System

The court system on Long Island can sometimes face an overwhelming volume of cases, leading to case backlogs. A backlog within the judicial system can impact the timeline for obtaining an arrest warrant, as judges may be required to prioritize cases based on urgency or other criteria. 

Although it is difficult to provide an exact time frame for obtaining an arrest warrant on Long Island, it generally takes anywhere from a few hours to several days or even weeks, depending on the factors. In situations where law enforcement officers have a strong probable cause from the outset and can quickly collect and present the necessary information to a judge, an arrest warrant may be issued within a matter of hours. In more complicated cases, however, the process can be considerably lengthier.

Expedited Cases and Emergencies

There are certain situations in which the arrest warrant process may be expedited due to the nature of the case or the suspect involved. These could include:

High-Profile or Dangerous Suspects

In cases involving high-profile or dangerous suspects, law enforcement officers and the court system might expedite the warrant issuance process to ensure the swift capture of the individual in question. Doing so can help to minimize the risk of harm to the public, as well as prevent the destruction of evidence, further criminal activity, or the possibility of the suspect evading arrest.

Imminent Risk Factors

If there are immediate threats to public safety or other pressing concerns, the arrest warrant process may be accelerated to address the imminent risks at hand. Judges may prioritize cases that pose a significant danger to the community, such as when a suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous, or if there is a risk of harm to specific individuals or groups within the community.

The timeline for obtaining an arrest warrant on Long Island, New York, is subject to a number of variables, including the complexity of the investigation, the availability of necessary information, and the current case backlog in the court system. Regardless of the variables, the process aims to minimize the risk of arresting the wrong person and infringing upon their rights. 

Executing the Arrest Warrant

Police are required to follow a strict protocol when arresting the subject of a warrant, both to protect the rights of the person being arrested and to ensure the legality of the arrest. If the protocol is not followed, the police run the risk of having any information stemming from the arrest invalidated.

Police Notification and Actions

When a judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant, the document authorizes law enforcement officers to apprehend the suspect named in the document. The warrant will typically include specific details about the person, such as name, address, and date of birth, as well as the alleged criminal offense. Once the warrant is issued, it will be entered into a statewide or nationwide database accessible by law enforcement agencies.

Upon receiving an arrest warrant, the police department will assign officers to locate and apprehend the suspect. This may involve coordination between multiple law enforcement agencies if the suspect lives in a different jurisdiction than where the crime was committed.

The police may visit the suspect’s last known address, work, or any other location where there is a reasonable belief that the suspect might be found. If the police are unable to locate the person named in the warrant, they’ll often collaborate with other agencies, such as the U.S. Marshals, to assist in the search for the fugitive.

The police have a legal obligation to inform the suspect of the warrant at the time of the arrest. However, this may only happen after they have already detained the individual in case the suspect attempts to flee.

Arrest Procedures and Defendant’s Rights

During the arrest, law enforcement officers must adhere to specific procedures to protect the rights of the individual being arrested. Some essential rights include:

  • The right to be informed of the charges: The police are required to inform the defendant of the charges against them, whether the arrest is made under a warrant or based on probable cause.
  • The right to remain silent: The defendant has the right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves during questioning. It is important for the defendant to be informed of this right at the time of arrest, usually as part of the Miranda warnings.
  • The right to an attorney: The accused person has the right to have an attorney present during any questioning and court proceedings. They should also be informed of this right during the arrest and subsequent in-custody procedures.

Time and Place of the Arrest

Law enforcement officers have a certain degree of discretion when executing an arrest warrant in terms of the time and place where they may apprehend the suspect. While officers are generally allowed to arrest someone at any time and place, there are restrictions on entering private homes without consent.

In most situations, the police must either obtain consent from the homeowner or have a separate search warrant to enter the suspect’s dwelling and conduct a search for the suspect.

If the police have a valid search warrant, they can enter and search the premises for the person named in the arrest warrant, regardless of whether the homeowner consents.

Post-arrest Process and Potential Outcomes

Once the person is arrested and taken into custody, various outcomes can follow depending on the specific circumstances of the case:

  • Arraignment and bail hearing: After being held in custody, the individual will typically be arraigned before a magistrate or judge, who will inform them of the charges they are facing. During the arraignment, the court may also consider granting bail or release on the defendant’s own recognizance, depending on the severity of the charges and the defendant’s criminal history. Bail is set depending on the likelihood of the defendant to evade their charges.
  • Possible dismissal or reduction of charges: In some cases, the prosecution may decide to dismiss the charges altogether or reduce them to lesser offenses, especially if the defendant’s attorney brings up issues related to the evidence or the legality of the arrest.
  • Trial and sentencing: If the defendant pleads not guilty and the case proceeds to trial, the prosecution will present its evidence to convince a judge or jury that the suspect has committed the crime. If the defendant is found guilty, they will be sentenced accordingly, which could range from probation or community service to imprisonment or fines.

Arrest Warrant Challenges and Legal Considerations

There are various challenges and legal considerations associated with arrest warrants that can potentially infringe upon an individual’s rights. It is essential for anyone facing an arrest warrant to understand these potential issues, including when a warrant may be invalid, the suppression of evidence due to warrant issues, and the importance of seeking legal advice and representation.

Invalid or Improperly Executed Warrants

In some instances, an arrest warrant may be invalid or improperly executed, which can lead to challenges in the criminal process. There are various reasons why a warrant may be considered invalid or improperly executed, including:

  • Insufficient probable cause: Probable cause is a reasonable belief, based on specific facts and circumstances, that a person has committed a crime. If the probable cause presented to a judge to obtain an arrest warrant is insufficient or based on false information, the warrant may be considered invalid.
  • Affidavit errors: An affidavit is a written statement made under oath by a law enforcement officer, describing the facts and circumstances that justify the issuance of an arrest warrant. Errors in the affidavit, such as incorrect information or details, can lead to an invalid warrant.
  • Overly broad or non-specific warrants: Arrest warrants must be specific with regard to the person to be arrested, the alleged offense, and the location where the arrest can be made. If a warrant is overly broad or non-specific, it may be considered invalid.
  • Improper service or execution: Law enforcement officers must follow specific procedures when serving and executing arrest warrants, including correctly identifying the person named in the warrant and informing them of the warrant and the reason for their arrest. Failure to do so can potentially render the warrant improperly executed.

Suppression of Evidence Due to Warrant Issues

If an arrest warrant is found to be invalid or improperly executed, any evidence obtained as a result of the warrant may be subject to suppression. This means that the evidence cannot be used against the defendant in court. This is based on the “exclusionary rule,” which prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal prosecutions. The exclusionary rule is designed to protect an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement officers.

Suppression of evidence can have a significant impact on a criminal case, as it may weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially lead to a dismissal of charges or an acquittal at trial. However, there are exceptions to the exclusionary rule, such as the “good faith” exception, which may still allow the use of evidence if it was obtained by law enforcement acting under the reasonable belief that the warrant was valid.

Working with a Skilled Long Island Criminal Defense Attorney

Given the complexities involved in challenging an arrest warrant and the potential consequences of not doing so, it is crucial for anyone facing an arrest warrant to seek legal advice and representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help navigate the legal process, assess the validity of the warrant, and identify issues that may warrant suppression of evidence. If you are facing an arrest warrant, it is essential to take the matter seriously and engage the services of a knowledgeable attorney who can work to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests. 

Our team at Edward Palermo Criminal Defense provides quality legal services aimed at assisting Long Island residents in navigating the New York justice system. A skilled attorney can help you understand the potential challenges and legal considerations associated with arrest warrants and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the criminal process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (631) 265-1052 or (516) 280-2160.