For a typical arrest warrant, the police officer or other police agency involved must submit a report to the district attorney. If the district attorney finds there is enough evidence to file a case, he or she can issue an arrest warrant and file the case.
However, a Ramey warrant follows a different process. Ramey warrants, established by People v. Raney (1976), involve the officer bringing the information directly to a judge (often after regular business hours). The law enforcement agency must submit a declaration and a report to the judge that outlines the reasons for requesting a warrant; if the judge determines there is sufficient evidence that this person committed a crime and there is probable cause, he or she will issue a Ramey warrant.
Speed is the number one advantage of a Ramey warrant. In some cases, the police officer may not want to wait for the paperwork to make its way through the district attorney’s office. In other cases, it may be a crime that needs immediate attention but there is no district attorney available to handle it.
However, while Ramey warrants are certainly legal, they are not always completely “above board.” A police officer may choose to pursue a Ramey warrant because he or she does not believe there is enough evidence for the district attorney to file charges. Therefore, instead of running the report through the district attorney, the officer may take his or her chances with a judge instead. If the judge chooses to issue the warrant (despite shaky or altogether insufficient evidence), the officer can bring in the suspect and question him or her in hopes of obtaining sufficient evidence; once the proper evidence has been obtained, the officer can get the district attorney to officially file the case. An officer may also pursue a Ramey warrant if he or she has tried to file multiple cases against the suspect in question, but the district attorney keeps rejecting the cases for lack of evidence; therefore, the officer may decide it is best to arrest the person and obtain evidence later on through questioning, lineups, searches, and other methods.
While this strategy is frustrating (and likely not in the best interest of the public), it is important to note that obtaining a Ramey warrant will not always work in the officer’s favor. If someone is arrested via a Ramey warrant and refuses to talk or provide the officer with any additional information, the officer will have to either file the case as is (if possible, given the evidence) or release the suspect from custody.
Overall, the main difference between a typical arrest warrant and a Ramey warrant is that a Ramey warrant is issued before the case has been filed. For a typical arrest warrant, the warrant is issued at the same time the case is filed (by the district attorney), but this is not the case for a Ramey warrant, which is issued directly by a judge.