A pocket warrant is similar to a regular arrest warrant, but worse. A regular arrest warrant is public information, allowing you to trace and track it. It is not uncommon for an arrest warrant to be public information prior to execution. A pocket warrant, however, is hidden, secret, and sealed in nature. While a pocket warrant is nonetheless for your arrest, as is an arrest warrant, a pocket warrant is worse because you’d never know it was coming; it’s a lot like getting sucker punched by a guy who you might not have known was hostile towards you. There you are, minding your own business, thinking nothing of it, and BOOM . . . you’re arrested, sucker punched / pocket warrant style.
Texas pocket warrants can result in your being arrested without warning
Because of a pocket warrant’s secret nature, you might want to consider contacting a trustworthy and competent Houston criminal defense lawyer in order to plan out parts of your future; maybe what to do with your children if things go south, or who to call and their phone numbers if you end up not having access to your cell phone. Hopefully your lawyer will talk you through the possibilities—such as whether to get involved in conversations with the prosecution before they decide to file charges, whether to agree to cooperate with the investigation, give a voluntary statement or consent to a search, or whether to leave the police and prosecution to themselves—and the consequences thereof.
The point is this: if you’ve caught wind that the authorities might be looking for you and yet you can’t find a paper trial, you might want to consider contacting a trustworthy and competent lawyer in order to learn of the possible outcomes based on what you already know. While critiquing the police investigation or negotiating with the prosecution is severely limited in comparison to post-arrest challenges and defenses, making informed strategic decisions are worth piece of mind.
With that aside, let’s discuss pocket warrants, and then the issues I have with them.
A pocket warrant is a secret / hidden / sealed arrest warrant provided for the purpose of further investigation and issued without filing charges. They are said to issue when the police or prosecution do not want you to become aware of the warrant. The secret nature of the warrant is said to prevent tampering with or destruction of evidence, suspects jumping town, and harming of victims of the crime accused. These types of secret warrants are often prepared in high profile or special crimes cases.
In Harris County, the District Attorney’s Office issues pocket warrants through only the Special Crimes Bureau and one other bureau that you most likely don’t need to concern yourself over (the Governmental Affairs Bureau).
Because pocket warrants are issued without filing charges and for further investigation, I am of the opinion that they are shady tools used to harass people. It is my humble opinion that officers use pocket warrants for the purpose arresting and essentially intimidating people into incriminating themselves. Why do I think this? The answer comes from asking several questions.
For example, why is a secret arrest warrant issued for further investigation when an officer can simply investigate a suspect? When an officer arrests a suspect, bringing them in for interrogation, the officer “possesses all the advantages. The atmosphere suggests the invincibility of the forces of the law.” Such interrogation environments are “created for no purpose other than to subjugate the individual to the will of his examiner.” If further investigation is needed, an officer could simply investigate your case. Additionally, the officer could obtain a search warrant. The officer could search practically any person or property as long as he has satisfied the proper judge that probable cause exists. The officer could even get a search / arrest warrant to stop, search, question and then arrest someone. Put differently, why hide the ball, especially in weak cases, when the law is already given adequate avenues to investigate cases?
Another query could be why are charges not filed? Could it be because they have very little evidence, so little that they don’t feel confident a grand jury would indict you? Could it be because they want the case to fall off of their desk without any backlash for failing to pin the crime on you? Could it be because they simply don’t want a paper trail of all the questionable things they are doing?
A third query could be, where in Chapter 15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure does it say pocket, sealed, secret, or hidden as it relates to issuing / obtaining a warrant? Where in the Code of Criminal Procedure does it state an individual may be arrested under warrant without first charging someone with an offense against the State of Texas?
A fourth and maybe the most important query could be does Article 15.26 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure affect pocket warrants and, if so, to what extent? Article 15.26 of the CCP is titled “Authority to Arrest Must be Made Known.” While the first half of Article 15.26 focuses more or less on “notice” to the defendant, the second half focuses on the public nature of arrest warrants and their supporting documents. “The arrest warrant, and any affidavit presented to the magistrate in support of the issuance of the warrant, is public information, and beginning immediately when the warrant is executed the magistrate’s clerk shall make a copy of the warrant and the affidavit available for public inspection in the clerk’s office during normal business hours. A person may request the clerk to provide copies of the warrant and affidavit on payment of the cost of providing the copies.”
Let’s put it this way, typically an officer is supposed to go through certain steps before he can arrest someone with a warrant. These steps are crucial in maintaining a balance in the criminal justice system; they are checks on the police and prosecution, ensuring that a person’s rights aren’t violated.
Texas pocket warrants are secret in nature
Nonetheless, a pocket warrant is a secret / hidden / sealed arrest warrant provided for the purpose of further investigation. It is secret because the arrest warrant is issued without charges also being filed. They are said to issue when the police or prosecution do not want suspects to become aware of the warrant and pending investigation. The secret nature of the warrant is said to prevent tampering with or destruction of evidence, suspects jumping town, and harming of victims. It is said that pocket warrants are often prepared in high profile or special crimes cases. A pocket warrant remains hidden or a secret until it is executed and filed with the return on the warrant. After the district clerk files the return on the warrant, the information becomes public record, and challenges and defenses can be made.