Capias Law & Legal Definition


A capias is a warrant or order for arrest of a person, typically issued by the judge or magistrate in a case. A capias may be issued in different forms. A capias is commonly issued for a failure to appear in court. A capias may be based upon an affidavit alleging personal knowledge of the offense. It must state:

1. The name of the accused, if known, and if not known, must give some reasonably definite description of him.

2. It must show that the accused has committed some offense against the laws of the state, either directly or that the affiant has good reason to believe, and does believe, that the accused has committed such offense.

3. It must state the time and place of the commission of the offense, as definitely as can be done by the affiant.

4. It must be signed by the affiant by writing his name or affixing his mark.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with capias:

"The process for arrest on an indictment shall be a capias, which shall be issued immediately on the return of the indictment into court, and made returnable instanter, unless otherwise ordered by the court, and if the capias be not returned executed, the clerk shall issue an alias, returnable to the next term, without an order for that purpose."