Warrants for Arrest


A warrant is an order made by a judicial officer granting (or extending) certain police powers in relation to a person or police investigation. For example, a Magistrate or Judge can issue a search warrant to grant police powers to enter, search and seize items from a particular residence. Without the warrant, police wouldn’t necessarily have the power to enter the premises and conduct such a search. A Magistrate or Judge can also issue a warrant authorising police to arrest a person and detain that person for the purpose of being brought before a court.

This page deals with warrants for arrest only.

What is a Warrant for Arrest?

A warrant for arrest is an order made by a Registrar, Magistrate or Judge which allows police to arrest and detain the person named in the warrant for the purpose of bringing that person before the court. There are different types of warrants for arrest, depending on the stage of the police prosecution and court proceedings.

What Types of Warrants for Arrest are There?

The following are types of arrest warrants:

  • Pre-court warrant for arrest – This warrant is issued prior to the commencement of any court proceedings when police cannot locate a suspect for the purpose of formally charging them.
  • Warrants for arrest following a failure to appear at court – These warrants can be issued by a Magistrate or Judge where a defendant who has been formally charged fails to appear at court. The failure to appear can be on the first court date or any other court date including when the matter is listed for hearing or sentence, provided the defendant is on bail and has not been excused from attending.
  • Warrant for arrest following a breach of bond or other sentence – These warrants can be issued by a Magistrate or Judge when a person who has been sentenced either breaches a good behaviour bond or fails to comply with or complete the conditions of their sentence (such as perform community service or comply with supervision requirements).
  • Warrant for arrest in relation to ADVO or APVO proceedings – These warrants can be issued when the court considers it necessary to bring the defendant to court in relation to ADVO or APVO proceedings, having regard to the safety of the protected person.
  • Warrant for arrest in relation to correction of sentence – This warrant can be issued where there has been an error on sentence that needs to be formally corrected in court in the presence of the defendant.
  • Warrant for arrest of witness in proceedings – Where a witness in proceedings has been subpoenaed and fails to attend court a warrant can be issued for the arrest of that witness for the purpose of bringing them before a court.

Most of the above warrants will only be issued if the Judicial Officer is satisfied that the warrant is necessary to have the person attend court and that other avenues (such as attempting to locate or contact the person and advising the person to come to court and/or issuing a subpoena) have been exhausted.

Who can Issue a Warrant?

As outlined above, there are different types of warrants for arrest and, depending on the type of warrant, either a Registrar, Magistrate, Judge or other authorised officer can issue the warrant. This is outlined below:

  • Pre-court warrant for arrest – Registrar or Authorised Officer.
  • Warrants for arrest following a failure to appear at court – Magistrate or Judge.
  • Warrant for arrest following a breach of bond or other sentence – Magistrate or Judge.
  • Warrant for arrest in relation to ADVO or APVO proceedings – Registrar or Magistrate.
  • Warrant for arrest in relation to correction of sentence – Magistrate or Judge.
  • Warrant for arrest of witness in proceedings – Magistrate or Judge.

What Happens Once a Warrant is Issued?

Once the court issues a warrant the police and court databases will be updated to reflect that there is an outstanding warrant in relation to that person. Certain police officers are tasked with locating people and executing outstanding warrants. Conducting checks at the person’s residential address, enquiries with family members, employers or other persons can be undertaken by police. Any police officer conducting a routine check of a person’s identity or history (for example following a traffic stop) may receive a system notification that there is an outstanding warrant.

If police locate a person subject to an outstanding warrant, they will typically place the person under arrest, convey them to a police station and detain them for the purpose of being brought to court. The person must be brought before a court as soon as reasonably practicable, which is usually the same day, or the following day.

Once the person is brought before a Magistrate in court, the person can choose whether to apply for bail or not. If the person does not apply for bail they will be remanded or kept in custody until their matter has been finalised or until they make a bail application. If the person applies for bail, the Magistrate will determine whether the person should be granted bail, and if so with what conditions, or whether the person should be refused bail.

The bail application is very important as if bail is refused a person may spend weeks, months or (in some cases) even years in custody until their matter is resolved. You can read more about bail applications here.

How to Know if there is a Warrant for a Persons Arrest:

There is no public database or online search to determine if a person has an outstanding warrant. Enquiries must be made with police or the courts. Preferably, this should be done by or following advice from a lawyer.

What to do if there is a Warrant out for Arrest for You, a Friend or a Family Member:

Get legal advice, immediately.

Outstanding warrants, and criminal matters generally, can have significant consequences. A person with an outstanding warrant may be bail refused and held in custody for an extended period of time. If they have been charged with an offence, anything they do or say in police custody may be used in evidence. Often people say or do things which are contrary to their own interests or make matters worse for themselves. This can result in being found guilty or getting a harsher (or longer) sentence. It is critical a person understands police procedure and their own rights before engaging in an interview and answering police questions. It is also critical they receive full legal advice before deciding whether to make a bail application and in order to prepare for that bail application.

Armstrong Legal is always here to help. We can be reached on 9261 4555 during business hours or on 0404 558 833 after hours if the matter is urgent (for example if police are in attendance or a person is in custody).

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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