Search Warrant vs Warrant of Arrest?

What’s the difference between a Search Warrant vs. a Warrant of Arrest?

A Search Warrant and a Warrant of Arrest serve similar but different purposes. They are the same because they give police the authority to search (I’ll explain later), and if necessary, seize things and people. Search warrants are required by the Texas Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. Despite what people believe, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS MAKE POLICE GET A WARRANT TO SEARCH. Make them work for it. Your Constitutional rights require it. Nowhere else do you expect more privacy than in your home. If police want to search your home, they need a Search Warrant. Why?

Let’s take a look:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – 4th Amendment U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment is one of the most important to our privacy rights.

Search Warrants

Like I said above, the Constitution requires that the police get a search warrant before they search your home, vehicle, or your person. However, there are exceptions to this rule. NEVER GIVE THE POLICE CONSENT TO SEARCH YOUR HOME OR CAR. If the police want to search your home, they need to file a sworn statement or Affidavit. This statement will be given to a Judge to approve or deny a search warrant. The statement must include specific details about the crime committed, the things that the police want to seize, and the places that they want to search.

For example, if the police are looking for a stolen car, they can’t come in your home and open your kitchen cupboards or drawers. Why? A car can’t fit in those places. Search warrants need to be specific. If the police may search an area then they may also seize illegal items. The purpose of the sworn statement by police is so that a Judge can evaluate whether or not there is probable cause to believe that a crime or items relating to a crime are at a specific location.

For example, if drugs are being made in a house, the police may watch the house, the comings and goings of people who live in it, and what items are coming and going into the house. These can include controlled buys by undercover cops. Details like these are what police need to put in their Search Warrant application. If the police enter with a Search Warrant, and the people inside are breaking the law, then the police may make arrests.


Warrant of Arrest Warrant of Arrest

Warrants of Arrest have a more narrow purpose than a Search Warrant. Arrest Warrants are generally issued when people don’t show up for their Court dates, fail to pay tickets/fines, or police file a criminal complaint against an individual for committing a crime.

Similar to a Search Warrant, Arrest Warrants need to be supported by a sworn statement by police – an affidavit. In addition, that affidavit must show that there is probable cause to believe that the named person committed a crime under Texas law.

Arrest Warrants are generally filed with DPS and more often than not, the police won’t come to your house to pick you up for the Arrest Warrant, depending on the charge. The police have limited resources and it is easier for them to arrest you the next time you’re pulled over. If the police do make an arrest, there is the concept of the “Wingspan Rule.”

The Wingspan Rule allows police to search anywhere within your reach if you’re arrested under an Arrest Warrant. Illegal items can be seized if, for example, you have illegal drugs on close hand. If you have a Warrant out or Warrants out, it’s very important you get it cleared up as soon as possible. The easiest way to do this is to turn yourself in to your local county jail. Once you’re booked, you can follow these tips as if you were arrested.

After that, your next focus should be talking to a lawyer and getting out of jail. Bail isn’t cheap. Here is an overview of the Texas Bail Bond types. If you need help with any of this, feel free to give me a call!


There is an important difference between a Search Warrant vs Warrant of Arrest in Texas. Each serve a specific purpose. Knowing the difference between the two and what the police may and may not do, can help you during future contact with police.

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