The term “warrant” is frequently thrown around to mean various things, both conversationally and in the courtrooms. There are two fundamental types of warrants and they both give law enforcement officials various authority. The first is an arrest warrant and the second is a search warrant. This brief article touches upon the arrest warrant and a subsequent article will hit upon the search warrant. Broadly speaking, it is easy to think of a warrant as a court document that permits the law enforcement agency to do something that they couldn't already do by themselves. When they seek a warrant they are seeking permission.

It is important to note that there are two basic reasons that a person could be arrested.

Officer Observations

A law enforcement official can arrest someone when they witness the crime being committed or have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed by an individual. Probable cause is a very fact-specific topic and I highly suggest conferring with an attorney if more information is required.

Arrest Warrants

The topic of this article, arrest warrants, are pieces of paper that contain a description stating the name of the accused, the offense charged and the sworn statement of the person (usually law enforcement officials) making the statement. This document is called the complaint.

A judge takes the complaint and any testimony – usually offered by the officer or victim – and determines if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed and that it was committed by the accused. If the court is satisfied with the evidence presented, then a summons may issue commanding the accused to be brought before the court at a specific place and time.

If the court does not want to issue a summons, then they will issue an arrest warrant at that time. However, the summons is an intermediary step that is considered for lower-level offenses.


The document commanding the appearance of the accused must be served upon them. If the accused ignores the court and does not appear on the stated time and date, then the warrant may be executed.

Warrant Executed

If a warrant is issued for the arrest of an accused, then any law enforcement officer in the State of Illinois has the authority to arrest the named person.

The law surrounding arrest warrants is very immense. As one can tell, there are a lot of nuances and procedural steps. If the proper procedure is not followed, then your attorney may wish to bring a pre-trial motion. Warrants are very serious and judges do not take them lightly.

It is strongly recommended that an attorney is consulted by any person who has a warrant out for their arrest. An attorney at Michling Plaza & Associates would be more than happy to sit down during a free consultation to discuss your particular matter further.