In Colorado, arrest warrants are authorized and issued by judges, and if there is an arrest warrant in this state with your name on it, you can be taken into custody without notice at any time. The law in Colorado requires an arrest warrant for a suspect if the alleged crime has been committed outside the view of police officers.

However, before a Colorado judge will issue an arrest warrant, “probable cause” for the warrant must be established. When a crime is observed by a police officer – driving under the influence, for example – no warrant is needed for the officer to make the arrest.

A law officer has “probable cause” to make an arrest or to request an arrest warrant when that officer has enough evidence to support the belief that a crime has been committed by a particular suspect. In a typical DUI arrest, for example, the suspect’s observable driving behavior is usually enough to provide reasonable cause. But when it’s a crime that no law officer observed, the evidence must be obtained from sources such as interviews with witnesses, clues found at the crime scene, and pertinent documents.

A Colorado defense lawyer can learn if there is a warrant for your arrest and precisely what the charge is. In some cases, an attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in without a formal arrest procedure. In other cases, if there’s no strong or substantial evidence against you, a good defense attorney may be able to have the charge dropped or reduced before an arrest is made or may be able to reach some other agreement with the prosecutor.

WHAT CONSTITUTES A VALID COLORADO ARREST WARRANT?

A valid Colorado arrest warrant is issued by a judge, names (or describes, if no name is available) the suspect, spells out the exact charge or charges, and indicates the evidence upon which probable cause for the arrest is based. If you are arrested in or near Denver for any crime, you’re going to need reliable counsel immediately. Don’t try to be your own lawyer. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor or a first offense, too much is at stake.

Arrange as soon as possible after an arrest in the Denver area to meet with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney who can review the allegation against you, explain your legal rights and options, and advocate aggressively in your defense. If you are in police custody, politely insist on your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present during questioning. Let an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney represent and defend you.

If you flee the state after finding out that there is a warrant for your arrest, you become a fugitive, and when you are found, you will probably be extradited. Extradition may be contested in court in the jurisdiction where the arrest is made, but if a criminal suspect is extradited back to Colorado, that suspect will face additional penalties for fleeing from justice along with the initial criminal charge.

WHAT OTHER WARRANTS DO THE COURTS USE?

Arrest warrants are among the several types of warrants used in our legal system. A “bench warrant” is in most cases an arrest warrant that is issued when a suspect fails to make a scheduled court appearance. A search warrant, like an arrest warrant, must also be based on probable cause. A search warrant gives police officers the authority to conduct a search, at a specified place and time, for evidence related to a crime.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, however, limits the power of law enforcement officers to search persons and properties and to seize evidence. The Constitution offers no precise definition of “probable cause,” but the established legal standard is that law enforcement officers must identify specific activities and facts about a crime and a suspect to establish probable cause. Hunches, feelings, and subjective suspicions that cannot be verified are insufficient.

“Sneak and peek” warrants are rare. They allow law enforcement officers to enter a residence or other premises without an occupant’s or an owner’s knowledge or consent. A sneak and peek warrant must be based on strong evidence that a crime has been committed. During a “sneak and peek,” law officers may only observe, but their observations may be used to establish reasonable cause for a search warrant.

While the sneak and peek is defended as a tool for fighting terrorism, it’s also used to investigate drug and weapons crimes. Police officers haven’t always followed the rules with sneak and peek warrants, and the use of these warrants remains controversial.

WHAT ABOUT TRAFFIC WARRANTS AND CIVIL WARRANTS?

Every driver in the state of Colorado should know that a traffic citation warrant may be issued for almost any traffic violation – from unpaid traffic tickets to serious offenses like reckless driving. If you should fail to appear for a scheduled court date on a traffic matter, or if you overlook paying a traffic fine, the state of Colorado could issue an arrest warrant with your name on it. A Denver criminal defense attorney can help you if that happens, but the best policy is to take any traffic citation seriously and deal with it immediately.

“Civil” warrants can be issued in Colorado for civil proceedings such as small claims court cases. If your name is on a Colorado civil warrant, you will be told appear in a civil court at a specific courtroom, date, and time. Failure to appear – that is, failure to respond to a civil warrant – means that you forfeit the case and the other party wins, which in turn means that you will probably have to pay damages.

A child support warrant may be issued in this state when a parent who has been ordered by a court to make child support payments fails to do so. If you are a Colorado parent who is not receiving the child support payments owed to you, you have the right to take legal action to compel the other parent to pay. If the delinquent parent fails to appear for a hearing, an arrest warrant may be issued.

If you are placed under arrest in this state for any reason, contact an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney immediately. If you believe that any of your rights were violated by police officers at any point during your investigation, arrest, or time in custody, tell your attorney at once. Don’t hesitate to seek legal help right away if you are the subject of an arrest warrant or a search warrant in Colorado. It is your right.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.