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Warrant Application Hearings

Definition

An individual who believes he or she has been a victim of a crime and the police have not taken an arrest warrant for the accused may file a complaint requesting a warrant for the arrest of another person.

Filing Fee

The cost to file a warrant application is $20 for each person you seek to have arrested. Individual applications must be completed for each person. If the crime alleged involves an act of domestic violence or a sex crime, there is no fee to file the warrant application. Please note that you must file the Warrant Application in the Carnes Building, 160 Pryor Street, Room J150, then submit payment to the accounting office in the Justice Center Tower, 185 Central Avenue, Room TG700 then return to Room J150 with proof of payment to receive a court date.

Filing Procedures

Georgia law (OCGA Section 17-4-40) provides that except in limited circumstances, a citizen who wishes for another person to be arrested must file a warrant application. In Fulton County, the Magistrate Court has procedures to handle applications for arrest warrants.

Procedure to Apply for a Warrant

The person applying for the warrant is the “Applicant” and the person you wish to have arrested is the “Respondent.” The Applicant is the prosecutor on the case and is solely responsible for ensuring the application is complete and accurate. The Warrant Office will not assist you in acquiring information needed to complete the application.

The Applicant must present a current picture ID to complete the warrant application. You must provide the details of the crime, including where and when it occurred. The crime must have occurred in Fulton County.

If the crime is a felony or involves allegations of a sexual offense, the case must be investigated by the law enforcement before you may apply for a warrant. A warrant application will not be scheduled on a pending felony investigation, except at the request of the investigating detective.

Complete the Warrant Application. For all parties listed, you must have complete addresses, including the apartment number if applicable, and the correct zip code and include a physical description of the Respondent.

Scheduling of Hearing

A hearing will be scheduled as soon as possible, but no sooner than two weeks from the date of filling in order to provide time for notice to be mailed to the parties and witnesses.

Hearing

The applicant seeking the warrant shall have the customary rights of presentation of evidence and examination of witnesses. The person whose arrest is sought may cross-examine the person or persons applying for the warrant and any other witnesses testifying in support of the application at the hearing. The person whose arrest is sought may bring witnesses and present evidence that probable cause does not exist for his or her arrest. The judge shall have the right to limit the presentation of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses to the issue of probable cause. Both parties should bring any relevant documents, photos, recordings, or other evidence with them to the hearing.

At the warrant application hearing, the judge will decide whether this is enough evidence to make an arrest. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the warrant may be issued at the hearing.

Please remember the Judge may issue a warrant for anyone if there is probable cause to believe they have committed a crime. This includes the Applicant, Respondent, Witnesses, and other persons, who may or may not have participated in the hearing.

Representation by an Attorney

Either party has the right to be represented by an attorney at the warrant application hearing. Cases will not be continued automatically for failure of a party to seek counsel prior to the hearing. Any legal questions should be directed to an attorney.

Additional Rights of Persons Accused of Crimes

The accused has the right to remain silent, and any testimony given by the accused may be used against him or her. The accused is under no duty to present any evidence tending to prove innocence and is not required to take the stand and testify. If the accused elects not to testify, no inference adverse to the accused shall be drawn by the judge, nor shall such fact be held against the accused in any way. If the accused testifies, the testimony will be recorded and could be used against the accused if the case is prosecuted.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What is a warrant application hearing?
    When a civilian makes a written application for the issuance of a criminal arrest warrant, a Judge makes a determination as to whether the application should be set down for a hearing. If the Judge determines that the application should be set down for a hearing, this form is filled out stating the crime alleged and setting down the time, date, and location of the hearing. The Judge delivers one copy to the applicant at the time of the application. The Clerk of Court mails one copy to the defendant at the address provided by the applicant.

    O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (1) If application is made for a warrant by a person other than a peace officer or law enforcement officer and the application alleges the commission of an offense against the penal laws, the judge or other officer shall schedule a warrant application hearing as provided in this subsection.

    O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (4) At the warrant application hearing, the rules regarding admission of evidence at a commitment hearing shall apply. The person seeking the warrant shall have the customary rights of presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. The person whose arrest is sought may cross-examine the person or persons applying for the warrant and any other witnesses testifying in support of the application at the hearing. The person whose arrest is sought may present evidence that probable cause does not exist for his or her arrest. The judge ... shall have the right to limit the presentation of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses to the issue of probable cause. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (5) At the warrant application hearing , a determination shall be made whether or not probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the person whose arrest is sought. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the warrant my issue instanter.
  • How can I apply for a criminal arrest warrant for an individual's arrest?
    If you believe this is a case you can handle yourself, you would go to the respective Magistrate Court in the county where the alleged crime occurred. Therefore, if the criminal offense occurred in Fulton County, you would come to the Fulton County Magistrate Court. If the crime occurred in another county, you would go to that Magistrate Court. You are encouraged to contact the law enforcement agency in the location where the offense occurred and obtain a report prior to coming to the Court to file your application for a warrant.

    You would fill out a criminal arrest warrant application form. It is available on the website under the Criminal Forms section. There is a fee of $20.00 which must be paid in cash. After application is made, a hearing will be set and the accused given a notice to appear unless there are circumstances that require immediate action on the part of the Court.

    Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 17-4-40 (b), Most civilian arrest warrant applications are set for a warrant application hearing. There are rare statutory circumstances when an immediate arrest warrant can be issued, but they are rare. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (1) If application is made for a warrant by a person other than a peace officer or law enforcement officer and the application alleges the commission of an offense against the penal laws, the judge or other officer shall schedule a warrant application hearing as provided in this subsection. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (4) At the warrant application hearing, the rules regarding admission of evidence at a commitment hearing shall apply. The person seeking the warrant shall have the customary rights of presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. The person whose arrest is sought may cross-examine the person or persons applying for the warrant and any other witnesses testifying in support of the application at the hearing. The person whose arrest is sought may present evidence that probable cause does not exist for his or her arrest. The judge ... shall have the right to limit the presentation of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses to the issue of probable cause. O.C.G.A. 17-4-40. (b) (5) At the warrant application hearing , a determination shall be made whether or not probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the person whose arrest is sought. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the warrant may issue instanter.
  • Can I just bring the police report to show what happened?
    No, the police report is "hearsay." It is not admissible. The law permits the opposing side to cross examine and confront witnesses. No one has yet to be able to get a piece of paper to answer questions from the witness stand. Both the court and the opposing side have the right under our laws to see and hear the witness in court.
  • Can I just get the witness to sign an affidavit instead of coming to court?
    No, the affidavit is "hearsay." It is not admissible. The law permits the opposing side to cross examine and confront witnesses. No one has yet to be able to get an affidavit to answer questions from the witness stand. You can't use a witness's affidavit in place of their live testimony. Both the court and the opposing side have the right under our laws to see and hear the witness in court.
  • Which witnesses should I bring to the warrant application hearing?
    You should bring all witnesses you wish to have testified. Generally, you cannot testify yourself about what another witness to the case saw or heard. That is "hearsay." So, bring the proper witnesses to court.

    To be on the safe side, you should consider subpoenaing these witnesses. Subpoenas may be obtained in the clerk's office. They must be served by a person over the age of 18 years, not related to the case and an affidavit of service of the subpoena should be filed with the clerk at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date.
  • I am the victim; can I call the accused to the witness stand to testify in the warrant application hearing?
    No, this is a criminal proceeding. Therefore, the accused cannot be compelled to give testimony. While an accused in a criminal case MAY give testimony at a warrant application hearing, that will only occur after the judge has advised the accused of his/her rights connected with the hearing, including the right to remain silent.
  • What rules and rights apply to the warrant applicant and the accused at a warrant application hearing?
    At the warrant application hearing, the rules regarding admission of evidence at a commitment hearing shall apply. The person seeking the warrant shall have the customary rights of presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. The person whose arrest is sought may cross-examine the person or persons applying for the warrant and any other witnesses testifying in support of the application at the hearing. The person whose arrest is sought may present evidence that probable cause does not exist for his or her arrest. The judge or other officer shall have the right to limit the presentation of evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses to the issue of probable cause. At the warrant application hearing, a determination shall be made whether or not probable cause exists for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the person whose arrest is sought. If the judge or other officer finds that probable cause exists, the warrant may issue instanter.
  • I am the accused; can I apply for appointed counsel at this hearing?
    Accused persons, who are indigent and are unable to afford counsel, may apply for court appointed counsel. You must immediately appear before a magistrate court judge to apply for appointed counsel in order to do so before the hearing.

    Hearings will not be continued for the failure to timely apply for appointed counsel or hire counsel.