A felony warrant is a type of arrest warrant, issued by a court, that authorizes the apprehension and arrest of an individual suspected of committing a felony crime. A warrant is a legal document, issued in most cases by a judge after his consideration of evidence that has been provided by law enforcement officials. In particular, a felony warrant must include a signed affidavit of the crime committed, and the name of the accused.
Of the two broad classifications of crimes, misdemeanors and felonies, felonies are typically more severe. In many cases, however, when a felony is suspected to have been committed — and very often in cases where a law enforcement officer witnesses a crime — a felony warrant is not needed, as an officer can arrest a suspect based on what is known as probable cause. Nevertheless these warrants are routinely issued by courts, especially in cases that involve a suspect actively evading capture.
Other common situations that may call for the use of a felony warrant include when a witness or victim reports a crime after it has occurred. A felony warrant becomes vital, in such cases, to alerting other law enforcement agencies that a suspect is wanted. Warrants do not always result in forcible arrests, however. Individuals who learn there is a warrant made out in their name can contact law enforcement and arrange their own surrender, in an organized and peaceful fashion.
A felony warrant generally does not have a set expiration date, and, rather, remains in effect until an arrest is made or until a countermanding order is issued by the court. Some jurisdictions may consider recalling a warrant if they are contacted by the suspect, and a deal is arranged for a surrender or for a court appearance.
Though what constitutes a felony crime can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, these are generally accepted to include violent crimes, such as rape and murder, as well as serious, non-violent crimes, like auto theft and robbery. Many so-called white collar crimes, which typically involve lying under oath and obstruction of justice, are also considered felonies. Typically a felony is a crime for which the punishment, or sentence, is a year or longer in prison. Examples of crimes that may vary between felony and misdemeanor — depending on the laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime was committed — include illegal drug use, prostitution, and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.