What is a Blue Warrant?

Someone arrested on a blue warrant is unlikely to be granted bail.
People who are on parole and fail a drug test are typically subject to arrest on a blue warrant.
Warrants may be executed by a sheriff.
Someone who violates his parole conditions can be arrested under a blue warrant.
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  • Written By: Vickie Christensen
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 03 July 2015
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A parole revocation warrant is also known colloquially in the United States as a blue warrant. A blue warrant is issued when a person who is on parole violates one or more conditions of his parole. When a prisoner is released from jail on parole, the judge places conditions on the prisoner's release. If these guidelines are not met, the former prisoner is subject to arrest. Blue warrants might also be issued for inmates who were paroled when actually they were ineligible for release.

States have clear procedural guidelines for blue warrants. A typical procedure would be for the parole officer in charge of supervising the former prisoner to report a violation. Example of violations would include failure to report or failure to submit to a drug test. This is a critical report because it determines if a warrant will be issued. Individuals in a state’s parole department review this report and determine if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of parole conditions occurred.

When a state parole board determines that there is probable cause, a warrant is issued to detain the former prisoner pending a formal hearing. The warrant is typically published in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and/or the specific state's warrant database. Once an offender is detained, the state's parole department determines whether to place the case into the hearing process.


In cases where a parole violation is alleged, the alleged violator may be granted a preliminary hearing in which a judge will decide if there is probable cause to believe the parolee has violated his parole. If cause is found, a revocation hearing is held; in some cases, a parolee will go straight to the revocation hearing. At the revocation hearing, a parole board will evaluate the evidence presented and order an action to be taken, which can include revoking the parole.

Both types of hearings occur in two phases. In the first part, evidence is presented about the alleged parole violations to see if it meets a certain level of proof. If there is enough proof the second part, called the adjustment phase, is held. In this phase, the board considers the evidence plus other factors, such as work history or compliance with drug treatment. This second hearing is also known as a mitigation hearing.

If a sheriff or other official has an individual in custody, he is required to notify the parole department when either a criminal charge has been dismissed or a sentence has been imposed. A person who violates his parole conditions and is arrested on a blue warrant does not qualify to be released from jail on bail. Because bail is not available on a blue warrant, the parolee will remain locked up pending his hearing.

The National Institute of Corrections recommended in 1997 that blue warrant processing be accelerated. This was due to a serious backlog in county jails. Guidelines are that the revocation hearing must be held in a timely manner, unless the person is subject to criminal charges or is being held in a correctional facility at the federal level or in a different state.


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Discuss this Article

Post 5

What is a timely manner? My boyfriend has been waiting 72 days.

Post 4

How long is considered a timely manner? My fiancee has been waiting two months for his hearing.

Post 3

I want to know how long it takes for the warrant to go through.

Post 2

Sometimes other warrants can also turn into the equivalent of blue warrants if people do things like try to run from the police or lie about who they are. I find this sadly hilarious, because it seems like if there is a warrant for your arrest, you know better than to try to trick the police of all people; going with the flow until you can get a lawyer would be the best plan, I think.

Post 1

A warrant arrest sounds like such a scary thing, and I can imagine it would be even worse if you knew you could not get out on bail. Part of me feels bad for people who mess up parole, they just don't seem to get it when it comes to thinking about the outcome of your actions.

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