Butte County D.A.’s Office Digitizes Warrants with DocuSign eSignature

  • Time required to process a warrant, down to minutes from hours

With 33 years in office, Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey is the longest serving elected District Attorney in California. His mission is simple: “to do justice, as no one is above the law, nor beneath its protection.” 

One way his office works to fulfill this mission is by modernizing the warrant process for the police department. Issuing a warrant in Butte County used to be a long, manual task requiring in-person signatures from judges for approval. Ramsay knew the process needed to be digitized to reduce the time police officers spent on administrative tasks, giving them more time to fulfill their most important role: law enforcement.

The D.A.’s office accelerated warrant processing by implementing DocuSign eSignature and equipping the county’s judges with iPads so they could easily review and sign warrants from anywhere. By successfully decreasing the time to issue a warrant from hours to minutes, law enforcement sped up investigations and increased the availability of officers to report to a crime scene. 

Better, safer law enforcement with electronic signatures

Prior to DocuSign eSignature, Butte County police officers would fill out a search warrant, have a judge read and sign it in person at the courthouse, and then return to the crime scene. Because crimes happen at all hours of the day, sometimes officers would have to wake a judge with a phone call and drive to their home for review and signature. 

It often took hours for officers to get a single search warrant processed. “Given the sheer geographical expanse of our county, our officers often had to drive miles and miles from a crime scene just to get to a judge for a signature,” says Albert Tong, Information Systems Analyst for the Butte County District Attorney’s Office. 

Especially in heated crime scene situations, it’s crucial that all officers remain at the scene working toward a resolution. “Leaving a crime scene to get a judge’s signature can create a manpower deficit that puts officers and bystanders at risk,” says Tong.

“Using DocuSign and iPads, officers never have to leave a crime scene to drive to the courthouse or a judge’s home in order to get signatures—that creates a much safer, more stable situation.”
Albert Tong
Informations Systems Analyst
Butte County D.A.

Electronic signature and digital warrants are a critical law enforcement tool 

DocuSign has even played a key role in a high-profile SWAT operation in Butte County, enabling officers to quickly obtain a signed search warrant from a judge during a heated standoff with a heavily armed suspect. “Being able to reduce the team’s wait time, which would have been an hour and a half without DocuSign, to just minutes using the iPad, helped our officers move forward quickly, and reduce the risk of harm to innocent bystanders,” said Tong. 

DocuSign eSignature adds credibility in the courtroom. “Sometimes, defense attorneys question the validity of warrant signatures in court,” said Tong. “With the secure online solution from DocuSign, we are easily able to provide an audit trail that confirms that the signature is valid.”