6-18 Executing Warrants and Subpoenaing Witnesses

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 5/30/2014

Current Revision Approved: 2/20/2020



In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 23.1-815, VCU Police Department (VCUPD) officers are authorized to execute arrest warrants and subpoena witnesses to court. The purpose of this directive is to establish the guidelines for executing arrest warrants and subpoenaing witnesses in General District and Circuit Court cases.


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiate


Execution of Arrest Warrants

  1. When requesting verification of an arrest warrant on file, VCUPD officers must contact Dispatch to verify the information on the warrant. Officers must use all available information to ensure the correct person is being arrested, including the subject’s name, date of birth, social security number, and the description of the wanted subject. The officer must also confirm whether the warrant requires a custodial arrest or if the subject may be released on a summons.
  2. All warrants obtained by VCUPD officers will be logged in with Dispatch and Dispatch will complete a warrant tracking form. The only exception to this will be if the warrant is to be served immediately.
  3. Warrants obtained by VCUPD officers that are not executed by the end of their tour of duty must be returned to Dispatch. Officers are prohibited from taking warrants home or holding them beyond the end of their tour of duty.
  4. Once a warrant is served by a VCUPD officer, the officer must return a copy of the executed warrant to Dispatch. Upon receipt, Dispatch will update the warrant tracking form with all relevant information and retain a copy of the executed warrant.
  5. All releasable warrants and criminal summonses must also be returned to Dispatch and logged by the officer who served the warrant.
  6. When VCUPD officers are executing service for warrants or summonses issued by another jurisdiction within Virginia via facsimile transmission, all of the following procedures apply:
    1. Verify that the warrant or summons is for the person being detained
    2. Execute the warrant as you would any other warrant within the City of Richmond
    3. Make two photocopies of the warrant and distribute as follows:
      1. One copy to the arrestee
      2. The second copy to the Sheriff's Office, with a completed CCRE, and the Sheriff’s Office will then deliver the copy to the magistrate
    4. If the document is a releasable warrant or summons, one copy of the executed warrant or summons must be made and provided to the arrestee
    5. The executed fax copy of the warrant or summons must be returned to Dispatch, where it will be faxed back to the originating jurisdiction
  7. Pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 15.2-1704, VCUPD officers do not have authority in civil matters, except as follows:
    1. To execute and serve temporary detention and emergency custody orders and any other powers granted to law-enforcement officers in § 16.1-340, 16.1-340.1, 37.2-808, or 37.2-809
    2. To serve an order of protection pursuant to §§ 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, and 16.1-279.1
    3. To execute all warrants or summons as may be placed in their hands by any magistrate serving the locality and to make due return thereof
    4. To deliver, serve, execute, and enforce orders of isolation and quarantine issued pursuant to §§ 32.1-48.09, 32.1-48.012, and 32.1-48.014 and to deliver, serve, execute, and enforce an emergency custody order issued pursuant to § 32.1-48.02
    5. Note: For any other civil process, officers will stand by while process is being served in our jurisdiction by duly authorized personnel
  8. When executing service for warrants, subpoenas, or summonses on employees at work, the officer should first contact the employee's immediate supervisor. The service should take place in a private area, if at all possible.
    1. NOTE: For specific arrest procedures for students, faculty and staff, see Written Directive: 1-11 Student, Faculty or Staff Arrest Procedures.

Fugitive Arrests/Fugitive Warrants

  1. Virginia has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (see Va. Code §§ 19.2-85 – 19.2-118).
    1. The statutes provide that where any person is charged in another state with treason, felony, or other crime has fled justice and is found within the Commonwealth, the Governor will have that person arrested and delivered to the executive authority of such other state (Va. Code § 19.2-86).
    2. The demand for extradition will not be recognized unless it is in writing and alleges that the accused was present in the demanding state at the time of the commission of the crime and thereafter fled from that state (Va. Code § 19.2-87). Additionally the demand must be accompanied by one of the following:
      1. A copy of an indictment found
      2. A copy or information supported by affidavit
      3. A copy of the affidavit made before a magistrate, together with a copy of any warrant issued upon such affidavit
      4. A copy of a judgment of conviction or sentence imposed, together with a statement by the executive authority of the demanding state that the person claimed has escaped from confinement or broken the terms of their bail, probation or parole
    3. Alternatively, the Governor of Virginia may also surrender, upon demand, any person in the Commonwealth charged in another state with committing an act within Virginia, or in a third state, intentionally resulting in a crime in the demanding state (Va. Code § 19.2-91).
    4. When an accused has been arrested pursuant to a warrant seeking their extradition, the subject must be brought before a judge of a circuit or general district court, informed of the demand made for their surrender, the crime they are accused of, and their right to legal counsel. The accused may then challenge the legality of their arrest (Va. Code § 19.2-95).
  2. As applicable, officers must first determine whether the suspect is wanted in another state by verification via teletype (NCIC), confirm the charge for which the suspect is wanted in the other jurisdiction, and confirm whether the jurisdiction wishes to extradite.
  3. If applicable, the officer must obtain a “fugitive from justice warrant” by appearing before a magistrate, outlining the reason for arrest, and present available supporting information (i.e., NCIC message, correspondence to the originating jurisdiction, fugitive warrant, etc.). The only time a warrant is not required is when the fugitive has been officially charged with a crime in another state for a crime that’s punishable by death or one or more years of imprisonment. All fugitives will subsequently appear before a judge of a circuit or general district court.
  4. When considering the extradition issues for a subject, the officer must consult with a Commonwealth’s Attorney as follows:
    1. All felony and class 1 misdemeanors prior to issuance
    2. Class 1 misdemeanor warrants will only be entered into VCIN if approval has been granted by an attorney for the Commonwealth
    3. All felony warrants must be entered into VCIN and NCIC within 72 hours of receipt, regardless of the position of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. If the Commonwealth’s Attorney decides not to authorize extradition, the code EXL/4 must be used.
    4. All officers must use the VCUPD-35 Wanted Person: Request for VCIN/NCIC Entry form


Subpoenaing Witnesses

  1. All VCUPD officers shall complete a VCUPD-5 Witness Subpoena Form, to include their full legal name and the location of their current duty assignment in every case in which they are involved and their appearance is necessary in court as either the arresting officer or a witness.
  2. General District Misdemeanor Criminal Cases:
    1. Per the Code of Virginia § 19.2-267.1, a summons may be issued by a law-enforcement officer during the course of their immediate investigation of an alleged misdemeanor for which an arrest warrant is not required pursuant to § 19.2-81 (i.e., warrantless arrest) to any person they reasonably believe was a witness to the offense. The summons shall command the person to appear and testify at the trial of any criminal charge brought against any person as the result of the offense.
    2. Officers may use the Virginia Uniform Summons to subpoena witnesses. Officers must write the word "WITNESS" in the space marked "Describe Charge," along with the suspect/defendant's name and offense.
    3. The witness shall be asked to sign the summons. If the witness refuses, the officer shall note this fact in the space provided for the witness' signature. The summons shall still be executed.
    4. Whenever a suspect/defendant is released on a summons for court and the officer issues a subpoena using the Virginia Uniform Summons for a victim/witness, the officer shall:
      1. Write the word "Witness" in the space marked "Describe Charge," along with the suspect/defendant's name and offense on the witness’ summons.
      2. Attach the victim/witness summons to the suspect/defendant's Virginia Uniform Summons and CCRE, and forward all of the related court papers to the court with jurisdiction.
    5. The officer may request that the trial court issue a subpoena by completing a DC-325 Request for Witness Subpoena or a VCUPD-5 Witness Subpoena Form.
  3. General District Misdemeanor Traffic Cases:
    1. Pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 46.2-939, VCUPD officers, in the course of their duties in the investigation of any accident involving a motor vehicle or vehicles, may, at the scene of any such accident, issue a subpoena to any witness to appear in court and testify with respect to any criminal charge brought against any person as a result of such accident. A subpoena so issued shall have the same force and effect as if it was issued by the court.
    2. State police officers, additionally, may issue such subpoenas at any other location within seventy-two hours of the time of such accident, with the return of service thereof made to the appropriate court clerk within forty-eight hours after such service. A subpoena so issued shall have the same force and effect as if issued by the court.
    3. Officers shall use the Virginia Uniform Summons to subpoena witnesses. In the space marked "Describe Charge,” the issuing officer must write the word "Witness," along with the name of suspect/defendant and the offense.
    4. The witness shall be asked to sign the summons. If the witness refuses, the officer shall note this fact in the space provided for the witness' signature. The summons must still be executed.
  4. Circuit Court Cases:
    1. All requests for summoning witnesses to the Circuit Court shall be made directly to the Commonwealth Attorney's Office. Officers shall complete a VCUPD-37 Court Conflict Dates and Witness List form to indicate any conflict dates (i.e., days off, vacation, etc.) and forward it to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office immediately after the case is certified in General District Court.
  5. Executing Service for Court Witness Subpoenas:
    1. A court witness subpoena commands a police officer to locate and serve the subpoena on the named individual for appearance in a designated court at a specified date and time
    2. Court witness subpoenas that are served by VCUPD officers will only be done through personal service
    3. To authenticate a court witness subpoena for service, the officer shall insert the date, month, year of service, and sign their name and unit number in the spaces provided
    4. The individual, upon whom a court witness subpoena is served, shall be provided with their copy of the subpoena
    5. The top copy of the subpoena shall be returned to the issuing court


Related Documents and Forms

  1. VCUPD-5 Witness Subpoena Form
  2. VCUPD-35 Wanted Person: Request for VCIN/NCIC Entry Form
  3. VCUPD-37 Court Conflict Dates & Witness List
  4. DC-325 Request for Witness Subpoena
  5. Written Directive: 1-5 Arrest and Legal Authority
  6. Written Directive: 1-11 Student, Faculty or Staff Arrest Procedures


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

5/30/2014 - 6-18 Executing Warrants and Subpoenaing Witnesses