Search Arrest Warrants


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What are arrest warrants?

There are actually several different types of arrest warrants that will be issued by the courts under different circumstances. The most common, and the one that most people will have heard of and will probably be interested in searching for, are felony warrants. This type of arrest warrant would be issued in a case when the local police force had enough evidence to convince a judge that the person named in the document had committed a criminal offence or been involved in the committing of a criminal offence and might have more information about the incident. These arrest warrants remain active until the person has been arrested for the offence named in the document. Civil warrants are very similar, but they are issued in civil cases, not criminal ones. For example, if someone was suing you then a civil warrant would be issued requiring you to appear in the claims court on a certain date at a certain time. However, these are not arrest warrants in the sense that a police officer handing one over will be taking you away to jail! If you fail to show up at court, however, that could be a different matter...

In terms of people failing to appear in court when required to by law, there are other types of arrest warrants that can be issued by the courts in the US. These include bench warrants, superior warrants and alias warrants. Bench warrants are issued if someone fails to appear at a scheduled court date while a superior warrant is similar, but is often used to ensure a defendant or witness makes an appearance in court when ordered to do so. In this latter case, police officers may serve the warrant on the day of the hearing or trial and escort the person named in the arrest warrant straight to the relevant courthouse. An alias warrant is issued if the defendant fails to make an appearance at their first court hearing, so no plea has been admitted on their behalf. If you agree to appear in court in a certain date, whether as defendant or witness, it is important that you take this seriously, as failure to appear counts as a criminal offence – and you could end up with another warrant against your name!

Warrants will contain personal details such as the name, address and date of birth of the person the arrest warrant has been issued for, along with details of the crime they are alleged to have committed and a physical description. This last part is very important, as often police officers and other legal professionals will be using warrants from other parts of the US to identify suspects they have in custody to determine if they have any outstanding warrants against them. Of course, just because an arrest warrant has been issued against a person or they have outstanding warrants in the system does not necessarily mean they are guilty of the crimes detailed within the documents. After all, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. An arrest warrant simply means that local law enforcement officers believe they have gathered enough information to either charge that person with a criminal offence or to question them further.

Why search for arrest warrants?

There are various reasons why members of the public and law enforcement officers might need to search for outstanding warrants. In the case of the latter group, the reasons are pretty obvious. After all, there are thousands of people walking around the US who have arrest warrants issued against them, either for crimes they have not yet been arrested for or for failing to turn up at court. It would be impossible for police officers in different states to know that this was the case without a national database which allowed them to search on the details contained within arrest warrants. Often, someone will be arrested for one crime in one area and after the arresting officer carries out warrants checks they will then be arrested on a long list of other felonies.

The public does not have access to the kind of national systems used by law enforcement officers when searching for outstanding warrants, which means that you need to know where the active warrants would have been issued in the first place. People might be searching for the names of a prospective or current employee that they suspect has lied to them about their past or they might be checking up on a potential new partner to see that they are who they say they are. If a woman is considering moving a new boyfriend into the family home, then it is understandable that she would want to know more about his past, in particular if he has any outstanding warrants for crimes against children. Parents may also want to carry out an arrest warrant check on a new babysitter or charities on a new volunteer. Perhaps you even have some suspicions that someone you know or in your neighbourhood has something in their past that they are trying to keep hidden. A simple and free warrant search can either put your mind at rest or help you identify someone who should be arrested by the police.

How to search on arrest warrants

Before beginning to carry out your own search on outstanding warrants or active warrants you will need to have some basic information at your fingertips. Personal details such as name, address and date of birth will be very useful, not only for narrowing down the search parameters but also for ensuring that the results you get are accurate and belong to the right person. It is also very useful to know where the arrest warrant, if one exists, was issued. This way you can approach the local law enforcement bodies to find out more details about the individual and the crime they are wanted for. There is a nationwide search site called V.I.N.E or Victim Information and Notification Everyday which will list arrest warrants once the bond has been set in a case. You can even register for updates on a particular individual if there is a specific case you are interested in.

This isn't a very useful site for searching for outstanding warrants which never made it to court because police officers didn't track down the person named in the warrant, for example. In these cases, it is best to look up arrest warrants either on the local county or state websites, if you have this information, or to use one of the many online search sites that will carry out this kind of work on your behalf, for a fee. There are some sites that will allow you to search for free, but they usually only provide very basic information, such as confirming that someone has an outstanding warrant issued against them, when the person searching may be more interested to know exactly what that arrest warrant is for. You will probably be expected to pay a fee to get this extra data.

Common problems

Understanding the complicated warrants system can be the first problem for people to overcome when they are searching for this type of legal document. If you are unsure what kind of warrant the person has against them, you should check with a legal professional rather than assuming they have committed a criminal offence. Any kind of legal search can also be more complicated if you don't have much information about the person involved or if they gave police officers an alias. This is quite common, as often if someone is caught for a relatively minor offence, and they know they have outstanding warrants for a more serious offence, they may try to pretend they are someone else before skipping town, leaving both arrest warrants behind! If there is no active warrant in the system for the person whose details you are searching on, it is possible that they are still in the system, but under another name or in another state. This is where your search can start to become a lengthy and perhaps even expensive pursuit. Not everyone has the time to carry out these kinds of searches themselves, or the money to pay for someone else to carry them out on their behalf. But if you are a parent, prospective employer or work with children you cannot afford to take any chances that the person you are letting into your home or your workplace is anything other than who they say they are.