What does it mean to have a warrant out for my arrest?

When law enforcement officers believe you have committed a crime, they can’t always simply knock on your door and arrest you.  In certain situations, they are required to first file a request for an arrest warrant with a judge.  This request must establish probable cause to believe that you committed the alleged crime.

Probable cause is a very low standard. It’s not the same as determining that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, which is the requirement for you to be convicted at trial.  Probable cause simply means that there is evidence to believe beyond a mere suspicion or hunch that you committed the crime.

Once that warrant has been issued, the suspect can be arrested.  A person can be arrested on a misdemeanor arrest warrant issued by a DC judge only inside DC.  However, felony arrest warrants can be executed by any law enforcement officer anywhere in the country.