How to Find out if You Have a Warrant Out for Your Arrest
Having a warrant out for your arrest is a serious problem that can result from a range of situations, from missed court dates to criminal offenses. In some cases, you may not even know there is a warrant for your arrest, which means you could be taken into custody at a routine traffic stop, the office, or your own home. Dealing with your arrest warrant is crucial to avoid accumulating fines and further complications. There are several ways to find out if there is a warrant for your arrest, and understanding your options helps you best resolve the issue.
Searching for a Warrant
Search official government websites.If you have access to the Internet, then you can quickly find out whether or not there is a local warrant out for your arrest. Go to the city, county, state or federal website where you think you might have a warrant for arrest. Government websites are kept up-to-date, which makes them a reliable way to get information.
- All federal government websites end in .gov, while those for states can end in either .gov or .us.
- Look for the "Legal" or "Health and Safety" sections to see if they offer a warrant search.
- Alternatively, try entering a phrase such as "arrest warrant" in the search bar on the website's home page.
- Some counties do not offer online warrant searches. In that case, look at the local sheriff or police department site for contact information.
Call the court clerk.If you would like to speak to someone, you can call the court directly. You can call any court in the state that you believe the warrant may be in, because states maintain a warrant database that can be accessed from any state court. Do not identify yourself; instead, simply ask if there is an outstanding warrant for "Person X" (using your name here) in a criminal or civil case. Have the following information ready: the case number (if you know it), name, birth date, and Social Security number.
- The court clerk of one circuit may not be able to give you information if you have an arrest warrant from a different circuit court.
- Keep in mind that for some cases such as family and juvenile delinquency cases, and domestic violence cases involving protective, peace, or restraining orders, you may not be able to find information through the court clerk. However, the clerk should still be able to tell you about an arrest warrant, even if he or she cannot give your specific information on the case itself.
- Criminal cases are mostly public record, so you should not have an issue getting information on these. However, some types of civil cases are not public record, such as family and juvenile delinquency cases, and domestic violence cases involving protective, peace, or restraining orders. For these types of cases, consider consulting a bail bondsman or attorney.
- You can also call the county, state, or federal clerk's office.
- Note that if you call from your own phone, the police may be able to locate and arrest you. They can trace the phone number to an address, or to any billing information associated with that phone number. If you are nervous about calling yourself, ask a close friend or family member to call for you.
Check the public records at a county courthouse.You can use the computers at your county court to search warrants. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself, ask someone to do it for you (a friend, family member, attorney, or bail bondsman).
- Most minor offenses will not lead to an immediate arrest. You may be able to pay a fine and settle the matter quickly.
- Be warned, however, that if there is warrant issued for you, you risk being taken into custody.
Use an online third-party service.There are a number of websites that can perform a warrant search for you. Some are free, and others charge a fee.
- These services are quick and easy, but may not give you all of the information you're looking for. For example, they may provide vital statistics and property ownership, but not information about arrest warrants. For this reason, these services should be a last resort.
Learning the Details
Find out when the warrant was issued.Sometimes people can be completely unaware that they have a warrant out for their arrest. Knowing when the warrant was issued could shed light on some important details.
- There may be fines associated with your charge that have been accumulating since the warrant was issued. These will be listed among the warrant information. If the warrant was issued a long time ago, you’ll want to get the matter settled quickly before incurring any further penalties.
- Additionally, in some case, if the warrant was issued long ago, a person cannot be prosecuted for the crime. It is not that the warrant has expired, but some crimes have a limited statute of limitations (period in which the suspect can be prosecuted). Therefore, if you believe that you may have a warrant out for your arrest for an underlying incident that occurred over 2 years ago, look up the charge that would appear on the warrant (or something similar) to see if there is a limit on the time that the warrant would be valid.
Inquire about the charges.If you know what you’re being charged with, you can more adequately prepare your response. Vital information includes the date of offense, the details of the charges, and the case type (e.g., felony, misdemeanor, traffic ticket, etc.).
- You may be able to avoid being arrested by paying a fine.
- The severity of your charge may influence your choice of legal representation.
- Also note any date of conviction, sentencing, disposition, and probation, if they apply to your case.
Note the bail amount.If you’re concerned that you will go to jail, knowing the predetermined bail amount for your charge could help you raise the funds to avoid jail time while awaiting your trial.
Responding to a Warrant
Deal with the warrant as soon as possible.Regardless of the charge, the best thing you can do for yourself is to respond quickly. Being proactive about your warrant helps you avoid being arrested publicly and at inopportune times. Moreover, it limits any accruing fees.
Contact an attorney.In the event that a warrant has been issued for a major offense, you will most likely want to contact a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your warrant and will make suggestions as to possible next steps. In addition, an attorney can accompany you to the local court to inquire about your warrant. Bring the warrant number and all relevant information you have so far.
- Find an attorney that specializes in your type of case (you should know the case type from the warrant information – see Part 2, Step 2).
- Avoid picking the first name you see in the phonebook or any other advertisement. Instead, get a referral from someone who's been in a similar situation, or someone knows a good attorney.
- You can also find attorneys by looking at your state bar association website. (A directory of state bar associations can be found at .)
- Meet with the attorney first to make sure that they're someone you're comfortable with and can trust.
- If you're unable to pay for a lawyer, contact the public defender's office of the county where your warrant was issued. Ask to speak with the duty attorney and explain you'd like to clear your warrant.
Turn yourself in.Turning yourself in can help make the process smoother, reducing the risk of more severe punishment and fines, and, in some cases, the creation of a criminal record.
- Start by turning yourself in to the courthouse clerk. Ask for information about what steps to take next, but make sure you have the right clerk. For county and state warrants, talk to the county clerk; for federal warrants, talk to the clerk of the U.S. District Court.
- Bring an attorney or legal representative with you for advice. Some misdemeanor and minor charges may be taken care of without a hearing.
- If you turn yourself in to a police station, you may end up being put directly in jail until your appointed time in court.
- A court-appointed attorney will be provided for you if you turn yourself in.
Do not ignore the warrant.This will only catch up to you. The next time you get pulled over for speeding, or even go the county clerk’s office for routine matters, you could be arrested on the spot.
QuestionCan police force their way into my home if a warrant is issued for not appearing in court as a witness?
AttorneyAttorneyExpert AnswerPolice can force their way into your home if the warrant is issued for you and they have reason to believe you are in the home. If the warrant is issued for a third party who does not reside in the home with you, then they cannot enter the home without consent or exigent circumstances.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the name of the website to find out whether there is a warrant out for someone's arrest?
AttorneyAttorneyExpert AnswerThere are many third party websites that provide background checks, but there is usually a fee. The best way to find out if you have a warrant is to conduct a search on your county's official website. Many county run websites provide access to judicial records including arrest warrant.Thanks!
QuestionI have a bench warrant. Can I go to Riker's Island to visit my boyfriend?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could. However, you would likely be arrested on the outstanding warrant before you got to see him and, depending on the type of warrant, have to resolve it before regaining your own freedom. Therefore, you should have it vacated/resolved prior to going to the jail to see your boyfriend.Thanks!
QuestionI missed a court date for a probation violation because I was in the hospital all day. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPromptly call your attorney (hopefully before the bench warrant issues) and set-up a new court date to appear on the case. You can also do this by showing up at the courthouse, but if you do this, go first thing in the morning so as to get on the docket for the day. That way you can (if the court allows) most likely see a judge on the probation violation warrant and either have it dismissed and a new date set and/or post bail thereon.Thanks!
QuestionWill I be contacted if I have a warrant?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, they will find you.Thanks!
QuestionCan I send a relative to the clerk's office to inquire and pay the fines so that the judge can vacate the warrant?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on the type of warrant. If it is just for outstanding fines and the warrant is not a "no bail" warrant, the answer is most likely yes. Some states allow you to do so while other jurisdictions don't. Call the clerk's office, a bail bondsman, or your attorney or public defender to find out for sure.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my probation is revoked?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCall the court clerk in your county of residence and ask. Some states, such as Washington, require warrant searches to be processed via WSP (Washington State Patrol). You can also just check with your local probation department or probation officer.Thanks!
QuestionWill a cop stop me if I have a warrant if they drive by?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, the police will only search your name in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database if they have stopped you for another matter. Furthermore, they cannot arrest you unless they get confirmation from the issuing agency that the warrant is still active. Thus, the police do not conduct random searches on people driving by.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find my name if I think I have a warrant?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust call the local police department, ask if (your name) has any outstanding warrants! You don't have to tell them who you are, you could say you're looking into a neighbor.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find out if there is a warrant out for my daughter's arrest today, free?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can call the county clerk or check if your county shows warrants online. Note that in some cases, there may be a delay in adding warrants into the system.Thanks!
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- Find out when the judge will see people from your county and turn yourself in the day before. Then you will be seen the next day.
- Even if you are experiencing identity theft, try to deal with the warrant over the phone. While you may not have committed the crime, the warrant is still legally out inyourname.
- If you think you have a warrant out for your arrest and are prepared to turn yourself in, you can simply ask a police officer. Police officers have access to special databases and can tell you if you have an outstanding warrant. While this method is quick, it will certainly lead to your arrest if there is an outstanding warrant.
- If an attempt is made to arrest you, do not resist. Resisting arrest can be considered a felony or misdemeanor.
- If you do get arrested, keep your mouth shut. Don't babble out information that may hurt your case. Do not sign anything that allows the detective to question you without legal council, and do not try to explain yourself to the police, as anything you say to the police could potentially be used as evidence against you.
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