1. Learn about the types of warrants

What should I do if there's a warrant for my arrest?
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1. Learn about the types of warrants

There are 4 types of warrants that give the police the power to arrest a person:

Arrest warrant

An arrest warrant gives police the power to arrest the person named in the warrant so that person can be brought to court.

The arrest warrant will include:

  • your name
  • the offence you're accused of
  • an order to arrest you
  • the signature or name of the judge or justice of the peace who ordered the warrant

A police officer can swear an information if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe you have committed a crime. An information is an official court document charging you with an offence. A judge or justice of the peace decides whether to issue an arrest warrant based on the information.

Having reasonable and probable grounds is more than having a suspicion or hunch based on the facts. The officer must believe that any reasonable person in the officer's position would think there are grounds to believe you were involved in a crime.

The judge or justice of the peace decides whether to issue an arrest warrant or an appearance notice after reviewing the information.

Bench warrant

A bench warrant is issued by a judge or justice of the peace for the arrest of a person who did not go to court for an appearance, hearing, or trial.

Witness warrant

A witness warrant is issued for the arrest of a person who failed to appear as a witness under subpoena. If you were given a subpoena and didn't go to court when the subpoena told you to, the court may issue a witness warrant against you.

A witness warrantgives the police the power to arrest you. Once you've been arrested, the police will take you to court. You may be released on a recognizance, or you may be held in custody until the court is ready to continue the case for which you were given a subpoena. You will be asked to tell the court what you know about a person or event that you witnessed.

A witness warrant never goes out-of-date. The police can use a witness warrant to arrest you at any time.

If your witness warrant is from the greater Toronto area, you can turn yourself in at any police service in the Greater Toronto Area.

Surety warrant

If the person who promised to supervise you during your release doesn't want to be your surety any more, that person can go to court and apply to be removed as your surety. The application must be in writing.

f you don't go to court and turn yourself in when the person who doesn’t want to be your surety anymore attends court, a surety warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Who can arrest you

If there is a Canada-wide arrest warrant against you, any police officer in the country can arrest you.

If a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest, any police officer in Ontario can arrest you and take you back to where the warrant was issued. But they may not do that. It depends on how far they would have to travel and how serious the charges against you are.

Usually, the police will not take you a long distance for minor charges. For example, they would probably not take you from Toronto to Sudbury on a shoplifting charge. But they would probably take you that distance if you were charged with attempted murder.

If your warrant is from another province for a minor charge, the police who issued the warrant will usually not come to Ontario to get you.

Reviewed: December 31, 2016

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