Columbus Warrants Defense Attorneys

Understanding what warrants are and why they play such important roles in the criminal justice system requires recognizing two bedrock legal and constitutional principles that protect an individual’s rights to be free from illegal search, seizure, arrest, and punishment. The first is that anyone approached by a law enforcement officer has the right to ask why that is happening. The second principle is that the officer is required to answer on grounds that are legally justifiable. Presenting a warrant satisfies that obligation.

Most actions taken by police must occur under warrant. The words itself implies “permission,” and that is what a warrant represents in legal terms–permission to search premises, arrest people, and seize property.

Police do not always have to show a written warrant, but a special order from a court or a general statute that sets general law enforcement and investigatory practices must exist. Without a valid warrant, evidence presented to secure an indictment or pursue a prosecution becomes inadmissible, meaning it cannot be considered by a judge or jury. Because bad warrants cannot be used to uphold criminal penalties, anyone facing a search, an arrest, or a trial in Columbus, Ohio, should request assistance from an experienced defense attorney with Leist Warner who knows how to review and, when appropriate, challenge warrants of all types.


Types of Warrants Issued in Ohio

Three general types of warrants related to criminal cases exist, and each must be issued by a magistrate who rules on the need for the warrant after listening to investigators’ or prosecutors’ explanations of the need for the action being ordered. Each of the following is defined at length in Chapter 2933 of the Ohio Revised Code:

  • Search warrants give law enforcement officials permission to look for and seize evidence from specific people and locations. The reason for the search, the identity of the person or premises, and the scope of the search must be stated in a written search warrant.
  • Peace warrants can be broadly understood as temporary detention orders and court-ordered restrictions on certain activities on the part of specific people. For instance, a peace warrant might be sworn out on a person who frequently gets drunk and harasses people in a given location. The peace warrant would prohibit the person from visiting that location and disrupting what the law calls “public order.”
  • Bench warrants allow the arrest of criminal suspects and material witnesses. These typically get issued after lengthy investigations and during a trial.


When Do Police Not Need to Produce a Warrant?

Police who witness criminal offenses or regulatory infractions firsthand do not need to secure warrants to make arrests or issue citations. Also, a law enforcement officer can legally search a detained individual for weapons or contraband (usually drugs) in order to protect his or her safety.

Searches of homes, offices, or cars can also occur without warrants if officers request and receive permission to look from the owners or occupants. Last, a “plain view” rule applies to physical evidence. Case law on that standard fills dozens of shelves in law libraries, but the consensus is that anything a person can see while looking through a window or while visually scanning a room exists in plain view.


Grounds for Challenging Warrants

Any warrant issued on the basis of false information is invalid. Other issues with warrants that can make arrests improper and evidence inadmissible include the following:

  • Failure to announce, meaning the law enforcement officers executing the warrant did not tell an affected person that the warrant existed and/or what the warrant said.
  • Incorrect execution, meaning the location searched or person taken into custody was different from that named in the warrant.
  • Exceeding limits, meaning more places were searched than were named in the warrant.


Do You Need a Warrant Challenged or Lifted?

If you think a warrant has been issued or executed against you or your property improperly, contact a defense lawyer at Leist Warner through this website or by calling (614) 222-1000 for a no-cost case evaluation.

You have a limited amount of time to ask a judge to reconsider whether sufficient probable cause exists to justify a search or arrest. More time is permitted to compare the types of evidence collected and retained against the terms of a search warrant, but an improper arrest needs to get corrected quickly to prevent having that incident cause serious problems for your family and employment. Lifting a Columbus arrest warrant that never should have been granted can make it easier to return to your normal life.

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