The California penal code can be used to understand the scope and nature of arrest warrants issued in criminal cases.Part 2, Title 3, Chapter 4, section 814 defines warrants as orders issued by local tribunals for the arrest of an individual. Because any restrictions placed on the movement of a person interferes with the Fourth and Fifth Amendment of the constitution, any act that involves physically restraining and detaining a person needs a "go ahead" from the judiciary.
The form of a warrant has been given in Section 813; the judicial decree is to be handed to the sheriff's deputies in writing and it must contain information about the person who is to be taken into custody such as his name or any aliases that are available. A John Doe warrant can also be issued when the name of the accused is unknown.
The current address or the last known address of this individual also has to be mentioned along with other personal identifiers that may help cops in arresting this person. The charges will be clearly stated along with an order to bring this person in, so that he can be tried for his crimes.
All active warrants will bear the seal of California indicating that the prosecuting powers of the state have been invoked in the matter. The judge who has issued the warrant will sign the document and his name and judicial title will also find a mention on the order. Apart from this, the date on which the warrant was issued and the name of the county in which it was released will also be included.
The fact that outstanding warrants do not come with a fixed validity period and these orders can be executed at any place and at any time show that these directives carry a lot of weight in terms of legality.
So, a distinct procedure has been prescribed for the way in which these orders can be procured from the local tribunal and this process has to be followed judiciously. For one, the probable cause perquisite has to be met when a person is to be arrested.
This has been put into place to ensure that the right to freedom guaranteed by the constitution of the country is not trampled upon in the course of detaining an accused. Hence California penal Code Section 817 states that an active warrant will only be issued in response to a probable cause declaration made by a police officer and only when the information in this writ satisfies the sitting magistrate that the offense described therein has indeed been committed and it was committed by the accused.
The writ filed by the police has to be a sworn statement presented before the court in writing and this oath will be recorded and transcribed and will be taken under the penalty of perjury. The oath can also be made through the use of facsimile or telephone; these options have been provided to facilitate the quick issue of arrest warrants.
The magistrate has the authority to examine the witnesses under oath if the information in the police affidavit is insufficient for the purpose of finding probable cause.
Depending on the information that you are looking for, you can find more than one government agency that will be able to help you with details on legal provisions like bench warrants, search warrants and orders for arrests. Also, you can find information on a most wanted list for the state and other crime history data from the Attorney General's office or the state police.
Crime information pertaining to arrest records and outstanding warrants is held by the Department of Justice. However, this data is only disseminated in response to a personal background check inquiry or to approved employers and law enforcement personnel. In other words, you cannot just request crime history data on third parties in California.
Approved applicants can request information through a finger print based or name based inquiry. In both cases, a completed request form, prints and a $25 service fee check will have to be sent to:
California Department of JusticeRecord Review UnitP.O. Box 903417Sacramento, CA 94203-4170
While you won't be able to find information on outstanding warrants from California through the office of the sheriff or other justice agencies, it is possible to find data on warrants that have already been executed through the Department of Corrections. In order to use their website for an inmate search and to find prison records, go to http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/or you can connect with this agency through their address.
Office of the Ombudsman1515 S Street, Room 540 NorthSacramento, CA 95811(916) 445-1773
Information on civil court records and limited crime history data may be furnished by the office of the clerk of court. However, even if you are given access to the court dockets database, crime history information will be kept out of your reach in keeping with the state laws.