What are reasonable reasons for an arrest

Is there an arrest warrant? What to do if the police are arrested?

1. What is an arrest warrant?

The aim of the arrest warrant is to bring you into pre-trial detention and thus to support an ongoing investigation against you by the public prosecutor. It is issued by the judge at the request of the public prosecutor's office.

This is not a prison sentence!

So pre-trial detention alone does not say anything about your guilt or innocence. It is solely intended to serve you in particular

  • do not commit the or a similar act again during the investigation,
  • Influence witnesses or other parties to the proceedings or
  • flee.

So you can leave the detention center as soon as possible

  • none of these circumstances is to be feared anymore,
  • the proceedings are discontinued,
  • You acquitted or
  • were convicted. Only if you are actually sentenced to imprisonment will you remain in custody after the trial.

Another distinction must be made between the arrest warrant and Demonstration order. In the case of a production order, the police will not bring you into custody, but only pick you up to ensure that you are present before a judge or the public prosecutor's office. In principle, there is no longer incarceration here.

2. When is an arrest warrant issued?

Arresting a person is a serious violation of their rights. For this reason, the public prosecutor does not issue an arrest warrant for every investigation.

So just because you are under investigation does not mean that you will definitely be arrested. On the contrary: the arrest warrant is the exception.

Before issuing an arrest warrant, the judge checks whether the following conditions are met:

  1. Urgent suspicion
  2. Reason for detention
  3. Proportionality of incarceration

In the following we explain the individual requirements in more detail. Please note, however, that every judicial decision is based on complex considerations. Therefore, if you fear that an arrest warrant might be issued against you, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Urgent suspicion

An arrest warrant will only be issued if you are strongly suspected of the crime. For that, you must have committed the act with a high degree of probability. The public prosecutor's office must have already presented the judge with credible evidence. A mere initial suspicion - i.e. a vague assumption - is not enough to bring you into custody.

Most applications for arrest warrants fail because of this requirement.

Reason for detention

Even if you are strongly suspected of the act, you will only be detained if there is a reason for detention. The law recognizes various reasons for detention (Sections 112, 112a StPO):

  1. Escape or danger of escape (is often assumed if the accused has good connections abroad).
  2. The risk that you will influence evidence or witnesses ("risk of blackout").
  3. The risk of repetition in the case of certain offenses, especially bodily harm, theft and fraud (112a StPO).
  4. Serious crime, e.g. murder and serious bodily harm (112 para. 3 StPO).

If none of these reasons for detention exist, no arrest warrant will be issued against you. This applies even if the judge is convinced that you are guilty.


Even if you are strongly suspected of the act and there is a reason for arrest, an arrest warrant will not necessarily be issued. After all, arrest is a serious restriction of freedom. The detention must therefore not be disproportionate to the gravity of the crime.

example: You have run into the black once. This act is punishable under Section 265a of the Criminal Code. The judge is sure of your guilt. Will he issue an arrest warrant?

No, even assuming a reason for detention is only a minor offense. At most, a fine could be considered. Arrest would in most cases be disproportionate. The judge will therefore generally not issue an arrest warrant.

3. How do I find out whether I have an arrest warrant against me?

As a rule, the arrest is said to be a surprise. If there is a risk of flight, arrest would often be made impossible if the suspect could easily find out about an arrest warrant. They should not be given the opportunity to prepare for the arrival of the police or to evade arrest. As a rule, you will therefore not find out before the arrest that an arrest warrant has been issued against you.

A criminal defense attorney can request access to the files. This is a very good way of assessing whether there is a risk of an arrest warrant.

This should be done as early as possible in the preliminary investigation. Once the arrest warrant has been issued, the lawyer can no longer request inspection of the files until the person concerned is arrested or the order is revoked.

4. The suspended sentence has been revoked - is the arrest warrant coming?

Probation is meant to give you a chance to rehabilitate yourself. You may not violate your probation requirements and orders, nor commit a criminal offense. If you fail to do this, your parole can be revoked. In this case, there is a risk of arrest and imprisonment.

As a rule, however, you do not have to expect that the police will be at the door with an arrest warrant immediately after a violation. First of all, the revocation procedure must take place. Only after the deadline has expired will you begin custody - if your defense has not been successful.

You only have to fear an arrest warrant - that is, temporary detention from one day to the next - if

  • There is a risk of fleeing or you are already on the run or
  • there is a suspicion that you are about to commit serious criminal offenses.

5. What do the police do with an arrest warrant?

It is the job of the police to track you down and take you into custody. How often when she rings the doorbell at your front door, there is no general answer. It is not uncommon for the police to visit you at your workplace or ask people about your whereabouts. As well on weekend is to be expected. If you cannot be found, the arrest warrant is still in the world. At the latest, if you accidentally or deliberately get into a police check, you must expect to be arrested.

If that happens, the police will give you a copy of the arrest warrant. If you do not speak German or only speak very little German, you must receive a translation into a language that you understand. If necessary, the police will first inform you verbally about the arrest warrant and submit the translation later (Section 114a StPO). Now the police will teach you about your rights. You can read the exact content of the instruction in § 114b StPO. We will inform you about your most important rights in the next section.

The police will then take you into custody and take you to the appropriate prison. Next - but no later than the next day - you will be brought before the judge. They will listen to you and give you the opportunity to rebut the allegations. On the basis of your testimony and the evidence presented, he will decide whether the detention is to be maintained.

The judge now has different options:

  • He can overturn the warrant.
  • He can confirm it.
  • He will also examine whether less harsh measures are possible in your case and whether the arrest warrant can be suspended. Instead of imprisonment, for example, your passport could be withdrawn or you could not have contact with witnesses.
Danger: Even if the arrest warrant is overturned or suspended, that does not mean that you have endured everything. The prosecution will continue to investigate you. You will only be spared pre-trial detention for the time being.

6. The police are at the door with an arrest warrant - what to do?

Now it is important to keep calm. Even rudeness towards the police will not get you anywhere. Do not respond to provocations. Instead, make it clear to yourself that you as the accused are by no means without rights and that the last word has not yet been spoken. You also do not need to have an in-depth knowledge of your rights to assert them. The police will instruct you as explained above.

The top rights that you should hear about are:

  • You can call in a lawyer.
  • You don't have to testify.
  • If you wish, you can contact a relative or another person you trust (114c StPO).
  • You have the right to request exculpatory evidence. These can be, for example, witnesses who confirm your alibi.
  • They must be brought before the judge the next day at the latest.
  • If you do not speak German, you can call in an interpreter free of charge.

It is important that you make use of your rights. There is no place for restraint here. Prosecutors and the police may be able to give you to understand that it will be worthwhile to confess later. At this point, however, you should not comment on the matter or sign anything. You have no obligation to cooperate.

The right to use a lawyer as a defense attorney and to speak to him / her is particularly important.

With the help of a lawyer, you can proceed against the arrest warrant or apply for a detention review, as well as inspect the investigation files. In many cases, the appointment of a defense attorney is even required (§ 140 StPO).

At the latest when you stand before the judge after your arrest, you should have called in a defense attorney.

Remember: an arrest warrant may only be issued if there is an urgent suspicion. So you don't have to convince the judge of your innocence. It is enough if the judge at least seriously doubts your guilt. In this interrogation there is therefore a realistic chance of having your detention lifted. However, you will rarely achieve this on your own; in the worst case scenario, you will talk about it all.

7. Can I be arrested without an arrest warrant?

An arrest without a warrant is made temporary arrest and is only possible in special cases. To do this, the police must "catch you in the act". In addition, the following requirements must be met:

  • Your identity cannot be established. This is not to be assumed, for example, if you have ID with you OR
  • There is a risk of escape. If you cooperate with the officials from the start, you will hardly assume that.


  • The requirements for an arrest warrant are met (see above).

A judge must decide on your detention as soon as possible. This must happen no later than the day after your arrest.

8. Conclusion

  • An arrest warrant will order the police to arrest you.
  • An arrest warrant may only be issued if
    • You are highly suspicious of the fact,
    • there is a reason for detention and
    • the detention is not disproportionate to the gravity of the crime.

So there is not an arrest warrant after every crime.

  • In most cases the arrest will come as a surprise. You therefore usually have a bad chance of finding out about an arrest warrant in advance.
  • If your parole is revoked, an arrest warrant is not always to be expected.
  • When you are arrested, the police will give you a copy of the arrest warrant and inform you of your rights. You will then be taken to prison and brought before the judge within one day at the latest.
  • The judge will decide whether they should remain in custody.
  • If you are arrested, stay calm, make no point, and contact a criminal law attorney.