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Arrest Warrants in Maryland: An Overview

An arrest warrant is an official legal document a judge signs, providing police officers with the authorization they need to arrest the individual named in the document. The warrant usually describes the crime for which the warrant has been issued and could outline some restrictions as to the conditions in which an arrest can be made (such as the time and place).

To obtain an arrest warrant, law enforcement officers generally must submit a written request to a magistrate or judge. This affidavit, which officers give under oath, must include enough factual information to show there is probable cause the person in question committed a crime. Overly broad descriptions or a lack of reasonable evidence may result in the officer failing to get a valid warrant.

For example, an officer cannot seek an arrest warrant for a specific person after a robbery based on the description of the robber being “short, bald and middle aged,” as this description could apply to thousands of people. However, if several witnesses identified a photo of a specific person as being the man who committed the robbery, it would create the probable cause necessary to get an arrest warrant issued.

Checking the validity of a warrant

Occasionally, arrest warrants may contain factual errors, such as names being misspelled or the wrong crime being listed. A person who has been arrested has the right to ask to see the warrant. If the suspect is somehow able to prove the warrant is incorrect, the officer should not proceed. Clerical errors, however, are not enough to invalidate a warrant, as the errors must be significant.

For more information on how arrest warrants work and what you should do if you’ve been placed under arrest, consult a knowledgeable La Plata criminal defense attorney at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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