What is a Capias Warrant?

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You must have heard “warrant for your arrest” thrown around many times in movies. And you know what follows after that.

The recipient gets arrested right after they’ve been instructed to raise their hands and turn around. But get this; the “warrant for arrest” isn’t the only type of warrant that exists.

There’s the Capias warrant too. Here, we’ll answer the question “what is a capias warrant” in detail. Let’s dig in.

What Does Capias Warrant Mean?

If you thought the word “capias” sounded weird, that’s because it is a word of Latin origin. When translated to English, it means “for the taking of.” That gives an idea of this warrant.

Basically, it is an order that requests for the arrest and detaining of an individual so they would appear before a judge at the scheduled court date.

A dozen reasons could lead law enforcement officials to execute a capias that’s been issued to you. But the major reason is usually linked to your failure to appear in court - especially if it concerns a criminal charge.

To this effect, the court of law might issue a capias for your arrest to force you to appear in court during a case. Generally, a capias warrant is a bench warrant at the base.

What Occasion Demands It?

Different situations could move a court of law to issue a capias to an individual. Of course, when you fail to appear in court, that’s a major reason for a court to issue you a capias. But there’s more. Here are some of the major reasons:

Probation Violation

A probation violation is the first instance that could lead a court to issue you a capias warrant. Now, after you’ve appeared before a court, your sentence could be probation, jail, or prison time.

Sometimes, your sentence could be a combination of probation and jail or prison time. As long as you get probation as your sentence, there’s the possibility of violation.

You can violate your probation sentence by not duly fulfilling all the terms and conditions of the probation. When that happens, the court will issue you a capias warrant through law enforcement officials. Either that or it could be much worse, depending on the gravity.


A capias warrant is also helpful in the case of extradition. Extradition occurs when an individual is being extracted from a country, state, or jurisdiction into another country, state, or jurisdiction for justice.

Usually, not all countries can extradite criminals or potential criminals to the USA. However, if you flee to a country that has an extradition treaty with the USA, the country is under the obligation to release you to the US authorities for justice.

It is worse when there’s a capias for your arrest. That way, you will be taken into custody until your hearing in court.


Beyond misdemeanor, people charged with Felony can also get a capias warrant issued to them by law enforcement. Again, this happens when the criminal in question fails to show up in court.

In this respect, the court can issue a capias for the criminal’s immediate arrest. Then, they’ll be detained until their court hearing.

Ignoring the Scheduled Court Date

You would be issued a capias when you ignore a scheduled court date. It doesn’t matter if you forgot about the scheduled date or deliberately ignored it.

As long as you do not appear before the judge when you’re supposed to, it would be interpreted as “ignoring the court date,” regardless of how genuine your reason is.

So, you might want to reach out to a defense attorney to know what to do next - at least before you get a capias warrant.

Capias Pro Fine

Another reason for a capias warrant could be a capias pro fine. For instance, if you refuse to pay a fine or restitute a sum of money to another person as ordered by the court, you could get a capias warrant.

But in this case, you won’t be detained. Instead, you’ll be arrested and brought before a judge to give a reasonable explanation for refusing to pay the fine.

Capias Warrant vs Arrest Warrant: Similar or Different?

Although they are both types of warrants, they operate in different circumstances. Usually, a judge issues an arrest warrant to an individual suspected of a crime.

This arrest warrant only comes into existence when there is reasonable proof beyond doubt that the individual is the criminal in the case. Conversely, a capias warrant is issued to the guilty party in a case.

The reason is that the guilty party has refused to perform an action instructed by the court. The slated action ranges from paying a certain fine or fulfilling the terms of probation and more.

Steps to Take When You Get Issued a Capias Warrant

When you get a Capias warrant, you’re expected not to make matters worse. So, the best thing to do is to comply.

Here are some actions to take when you get a capias warrant.

  • Corporate with the law enforcement officials when they come for you.
  • Do not flee to another country or state or hide.
  • Turn yourself in before law officials come for you.
  • You may want to keep your friends and family out of it - for the time being.
  • Consult a trusted and reliable defense attorney to consider your options to successfully break you free from the situation.

The Question, “What Is a Capias Warrant?” Has Been Answered

Has the question “what is a capias warrant” been stuck in your head since you got one? Well, now you know what it is and that it is not ideal to attempt to flee.

If you’re in no position to fulfill the court’s request, get yourself a criminal defense attorney or an attorney - depending on the severity of the case. That way, you can deeply consider your options, and your legal counsel can find a way to bring your case before the judge for another court hearing. Hopefully, the court may revise your sentence.


Reference Legal Explanations

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  • " What is a Capias Warrant?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on May 29, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-capias-warrant/.

  • " What is a Capias Warrant?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-capias-warrant/. Accessed 29 May, 2024

  • What is a Capias Warrant?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-capias-warrant/.