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What are the requirements for a valid arrest warrant in New York?

Although there are certain situations in which a police officer in New York can arrest an individual without a warrant, in many cases the police must obtain a valid warrant before they can arrest a person for allegedly committing a crime. It is therefore a good idea to have an understanding of what such a warrant must contain.

In general, an arrest warrant is the product of a criminal court. The main purpose of an arrest warrant is to bring the accused to court so they may be arraigned.

An arrest warrant must contain several important points. It must state the name of the court in which the warrant is issued, along with the date it was issued. It must name the crime that was supposedly committed and the name of the accused. If the name of the accused is not known, the warrant must contain a description of the accused, in a way that will allow the accused to be recognized with reasonable certainty. The arrest warrant also must name the police officer that requested it, so they may bring the accused before the court.

An arrest warrant can be addressed to police officers of the same classification. In these circumstances more than one copy of a warrant can be distributed.

As this shows, arrest warrants cannot be issued lightly. Per the laws of criminal procedure, they must contain certain pieces of information to be valid. A person cannot legally be apprehended if the arrest warrant is lacking such information. It is important for anyone in New York accused of a crime to understand their rights, so they can possibly wage a good criminal defense strategy against accusations they may face.

Source: Laws of New York, Criminal Procedure, §120.10, accessed Sept. 22, 2014

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