Arrest warrant

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An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by and on behalf of the state, which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual.



Arrest warrants are issued by a judge or justice of the peace under section 83.29 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The judge must not be satisfied that the person named in the warrant is (a) is evading service of the order, is about to abscond, or attend the examination, or did remain in attendance, as required by the order.

Once the warrant has been issued, section 29 of the Code requires that the arresting officer must give notice to the accused of the existence of the warrant, the reason for it, and produce it if requested, if it is feasible to do so.

United Kingdom

The procedure for issuing arrest warrants differs in each of the three legal jurisdictions.

England & Wales

In England & Wales, arrest warrants can be issued for both suspects and witnesses.

Arrest warrants for suspects can be issued by a justice of the peace under section 1 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 if information (in writing) is laid before them that a person has committed or is suspected of having committed an offence.[1] Such arrest warrants can only be issued for someone over 18 if:[1]

  • the offence to which the warrant relates is an indictable offence or is punishable with imprisonment, or
  • the person's address is not sufficiently established for a summons to be served on him.

Arrest warrants for witnesses can be issued if:

  • a justice of the peace is satisfied on oath that:[2]
    • any person in England or Wales is likely to be able to give material evidence, or produce any document or thing likely to be material evidence, at the summary trial of an information by a magistrates' court,
    • it is in the interests of justice to issue a summons under this subsection to secure the attendance of that person to give evidence or produce the document or thing, and
    • it is probable that a summons would not procure the attendance of the person in question.

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