Oct 9, 2019 in Law

Criminal Procedure

The first part of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any unjustified searches while the second part outlines a principal procedure for search warrants. The affidavit must justify these warrants and must describe the objects and location of search in details. This paper describes the major differences between a search warrant and an arrest warrant, their essential components, requirements, and the meaning of a probable cause.

A search warrant is an order issued by people and signed by a judge and sent to the law enforcement officer. It commands him or her to search for personal belongings described in the affidavit and bring them before the day of a court sitting (Carmen, 2014). In its turn, an arrest warrant orders to take an individual into custody for answering concerning a committed offence (Carmen, 2014).

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There are an enormous number of differences between a search warrant and an arrest warrant. Firstly, in the former one, the officer looks for the items that may be used as evidence. In the latter one, the officer aims to arrest a suspected person by taking him or her into custody (Carmen, 2014). Secondly, a search warrant expires after some period of time defined by the law. In contrast, an arrest warrant does not expire unless the court recalls it (Carmen, 2014). Finally, the jurisdictions may set certain limits concerning the warrant fulfillment to justified hours within a day. In comparison to a search warrant, it is possible to execute an arrest warrant at any time, but the law still can outline some exceptions (Carmen, 2014).

There are three major constituents of an arrest warrant or a search warrant. The first demand is a probable cause that, in the case of an arrest warrant, requires facts and circumstances that preceded the issuing of the warrant and may assure people to rely on them (Santiago, 2002). In the case of a search warrant, such facts make people believe that an offence has been committed and, thus, police should search for evidence. The second component of these two types of warrants is the requirement of a warrant issuing by an impartial, unbiased, neutral, and detached judge (Santiago, 2002). Finally, all the actions of the police officers and judges must conform to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Santiago, 2002).


Issuing a search warrant or an arrest warrant requires a probable cause. Moreover, the Supreme Court has ruled that any arrest is unjustified and has no meaning without the support of the probable cause. The definition of a probable cause is the same in both types of warrants; it is determined by a judge and not by the law enforcement officers (Santiago, 2002). However, the latter ones should announce and subject it according to the state law exclusions. They should have more than a suspicion, but facts that could lead to a belief of committing an offence (Santiago, 2002). In both an arrest warrant and search warrant, the ultimate meaning of the probable cause is to detain the suspects by using personal experience, training, and expertise (Santiago, 2002).

It is important to issue an arrest warrant for a specific person and only after providing a probable cause of an offence. In contrary, it is vital to issue a search warrant only after the determination of a probable cause that, however, should include all the places, in which the items that implied to be seized were found. In my opinion, it is not necessary for a police officer to establish the probable cause, according to the suspect’s location, in an arrest warrant. Moreover, it would cause unnecessary burden that is not a part of the issued warrant’s objective. 

Overall, there are many similarities, as well as differences, between an arrest warrant and a search warrant. It is vital to remember that the violation of these warrants’ requirement may turn them into inadmissible for any purpose in any court proceedings.

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