Getting arrested for an unknown reason probably ranks among one of the top annoying experiences ever or at least an embarrassing one. There are many reasons why you should know if there is an outstanding warrant out for your arrest. An unpaid ticket or other infraction could land you in jail, and you might need to contact a lawyer to avoid this.
How Would I Have a Warrant Without Knowing?
There could be a bench warrant or arrest warrant issued for you if you have an unpaid ticket or missed court date. A notice sent to you by a court could have gotten lost in the mail. Administrative mistakes do happen and can cause confusion, reasons ranging from clerical errors to someone stealing your license plate and getting cited.
Do I Have a Warrant?
An accurate way to answer this question is to check an official government website. The Freedom of Information Act gives every US citizen the right to search police records for warrant information. Searching a government website is quick, easy, and it’s free. An official government site is designated by “.gov” at the end of its website URL.
Searching a Government Website
Most city, county, and state government websites have a search function to help people find out if they have outstanding warrants. You would use these search functions by just typing in your name to see if a warrant comes up. Some sites will have a link that will pull up a list of everyone with an outstanding warrant in the area searched. Rural areas and small towns might not have this available through their local government website.
Call or Visit an Office
Another free way to check to see if there is a warrant for your arrest is to call the government office in your area, or any other city, county, or government office. Simply ask them if there is a warrant out for your arrest. Keep in mind that police departments have the ability to locate you if you are calling from your own phone. You can always have someone else call for you.
Police and other law enforcement officers have instant access to check on any existing arrest warrants. You can approach an officer and ask them to check for you. You should obviously only do this if you are willing to turn yourself in.
Run a Background Check
Court records are shown on background checks, so you can find out if a warrant is issued by running one on yourself, or anyone else in question. An online background check service like CheckThem can be used to find information on a person by searching the first and last name. A background check service searches millions of county, state, and federal government records in seconds.
You can narrow the search by providing more detailed information, and you will find records including court, criminal, business, marital, and family information related to the person. There’s usually a charge to run a background check, though some services offer free trials. Criminal warrants in some cases might not show up on a background check because states vary on who they allow access to criminal records.
Keep in mind, there are three types of warrants. A bench warrant is issued by the court and authorizes police to arrest someone. It’s usually issued when someone doesn’t appear in court in a criminal or a civil court case. Since they’re court records, they will always show up in a background check.
A criminal warrant is issued by police when they believe there is enough evidence to suggest someone has committed a crime. Civil warrants are issued when someone fails to follow up on a court order. In a failure to pay child support, for example, a judge will issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.
Contact the Court to Find Arrest Warrants
You can contact a court if you suspect there might be a warrant out for your arrest. You would call the clerk in the court of the jurisdiction you believe it was issued, then provide your name, date of birth, and current address. They will search the database of the National Crime Information Center.
What If There Is a Warrant for My Arrest?
If you find out there is a warrant for your arrest, the best thing to do is go to the courthouse and turn yourself in, or call a lawyer. At the courthouse, you will most likely be arrested, arraigned, and they will either set a bail amount to be paid or release you on your own recognizance. If you have a record of Failure to Appear violations, you will most likely be held for bail or a court hearing, which could be weeks or months later.
Hiring an attorney can cost you anywhere from $150 to well over $1,000 per hour. You can check with the public defender’s office to see if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney. They would usually set up an appointment to interview you.
How to Find Arrest Warrants for Someone Else
Everyone has their own reasons why they want to check to see if there is an arrest warrant for someone else. You could be dating the person in question and you’re noticing some shady activity. Maybe you’re screening someone for babysitting or you’re hiring a person under the table for something else.
You can use an online background check service to find a warrant for someone else, or you can call a courthouse. Again, the court can provide this information by name, birth date, and address. Be aware that the court might only have warrant information issued out of that local jurisdiction, or the state.
To find out if the person has a federal warrant or one issued out of another state, you might need to contact the court in that state or a federal courthouse. Attempting to do this could be pretty time-consuming. You might want to try a law enforcement agency in that state, like a county sheriff’s department.
If you’re trying to find out if you or another person has an arrest warrant out for you, CheckThem has the resources and technology to help you with your search.