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last name & social security number to get started.
What are Warrants?
Warrants are legal
authorizations for officers or other government bodies to strip
someone of his or her individual rights without the risk of facing
legal damages. These are usually issued by a judge to force an
individual to allow a search of his or her property, appear in court
or even be arrested by the serving official. The main types of
warrants include search, arrest, execution and bench warrants.
Types of Warrants
and Their Uses
Search warrants are
generally obtained by investigators when they suspect someone’s
property may contain clues regarding a case, or other illegal
paraphernalia. Bench warrants are served to someone who failed to
appear in court or was held in contempt of court, and calls for
their arrest. Arrest warrants allow an officer to arrest the
subject, usually due to violations of probation, failure to appear
or even escaping from prison or another institution unauthorized.
Execution warrants authorize authorities to carry out a death
sentence on an inmate. Outstanding warrants are those which have yet
to be served or fulfilled.
You may be
interested in searching for warrants to see if there is an
outstanding warrant for your arrest in a particular case.
Frequently, outstanding warrants exist simply because the individual
is not aware of them. For this type of search, you’ll need to
consult your local law enforcement agency’s website.
However, if you
have recently traveled or moved from another location, you’ll need
to search with every location you visited or resided in. To prevent
this time-consuming process, you may want to utilize a private
website which uses multiple private and public databases to search
them all in one attempt.
What are Active Warrants?
Active warrants are
essentially unfulfilled arrest, bench, search or execution warrants.
These may also be referred to as “outstanding warrants.” Warrants,
by definition, are legal writs which allow law enforcement officials
to take an individual into custody or search premises without the
risk of future legal recourse. These warrants may be issued by a
judge or magistrate of the court, and are typically served by the
local police or sheriff.
Types of Warrants
The most common
types of warrants are issued to allow the arrest of an individual
due to failure to appear, violation of parole, or being suspect to a
crime that has been committed. Search warrants allow officials to
search a home or other private property in search of clues or
evidence relevant to an ongoing criminal case.
Each state provides
a database of active warrants gathered from all local government
agencies, and these are typically accessible online through the
state’s Department of Corrections or police website. Searching by
name, city, county and other identifiers will tell you if your
search subject is currently wanted by law enforcement to fulfill an
active warrant. However, these often do not account for aliases used
by many criminals. Active warrants are also not to be carried out by
citizens; you may alert authorities if you know of the whereabouts
of an individual who is currently wanted.
offer the opportunity to search national private and public
databases in search of currently active warrants against someone.
These sites allow you to save time and effort by preventing the need
to search every possible jurisdiction where an active warrant for
you or your person of interest has visited or lived in.
What are Arrest Warrants?
Arrest warrants are
issued by a judge or magistrate, and give law enforcement officials
the ability to arrest a wanted individual without the risk of future
legal recourse from the person. These warrants are frequently issued
because someone has failed to appear in court, violated his or her
parole, or are suspect in an ongoing criminal case. They are
maintained by and searchable through the local law enforcement
agencies, and are considered “active” or “outstanding” until
Bounty Hunters and
citizens mistakenly believe that bounty hunters have the legal power
to carry out an arrest warrant. Bounty hunters are not deemed law
enforcement officials, and may only capture fugitives on the basis
of not honoring a bail bond contract. However, a police officer may
arrest a fugitive on the basis of an arrest warrant.
maintains its own laws regarding the powers of bounty hunters. A few
states have outlawed the practice of bounty hunting, but most allow
them to enter a fugitive’s private residence without a warrant and
without permission to apprehend them. They are not required to read
the fugitive his or her Miranda Rights, and may use force when
apprehending the individual if necessary.
If you know you
have missed a court date, you may search your local sheriff or
police website for arrest warrants that have been issued in your
name. Unless you live in a state which has made the practice
illegal, you may risk being captured by a bounty hunter if you are
under contract with a local bail bondsman. Histories of arrest
warrants are contained in criminal records, and may be found using a
private source to search national and local databases
What are Bench Warrants?
Bench warrants are issued by a judge or
magistrate against an individual for contempt of court or failure to
appear. These are a type of arrest warrant, as the law enforcement
officer who serves one is able to bring the subject into custody and
bring him or her before the issuing judge for an appearance.
Contempt of Court
When a judge issues a bench warrant charging a
person with contempt of court, this generally means the person has
in some way disregarded the instructions of the judge. This may
apply in cases where someone fails to appear at his or her court
date, fails to appear when subpoenaed to testify in court, or does
not report for jury duty. Other reasons bench warrants are issued
include failure to pay child support.
Fulfilling a Bench Warrant
One of the main differences between an arrest
and bench warrant is that the subject of a bench warrant may be
determined to be a flight risk and thus denied bail. This is
generally true because the bench warrant originated after the
individual failed to appear in the first place. When someone is
served with an arrest warrant, he or she may generally be granted
bail after an indictment hearing before the court.
Searching for Bench Warrants
If a bench warrant has been issued in your
name, you will either be notified by mail or in person by a law
enforcement officer to fulfill the warrant. You may search for bench
warrants with the local county clerk’s office, or utilize a private
search site if you want to search nationwide for warrants against
you or anyone else of interest.
What are Child Support Warrants?
Family courts across the country handle
enforcement and regulation of child support payments within their
jurisdictions. Child support warrants are frequently issued by the
presiding judges in these courts in order to attempt to collect
arrears in owed support payments. These warrants allow garnishment
of paychecks and arrest of the individual named, and are a type of
Reasons Child Support Warrants Are Issued
Child support warrants may be issued if someone
misses a court date regarding support payments, has missed child
support payments and failed to contact the court, or was once having
payments deducted from paychecks and has left that job for some
reason. These warrants may also involve payments due for spousal
support when payments are ordered simultaneously from the courts.
Local Laws Regarding Child Support Warrants
jurisdiction concerned with child support payments, be it city,
county or state, maintains its own laws and rules of court. These
are frequently found through the local court or child support
program website. However,
there are many laws which are the same or similar regardless of
where the child support warrant exists.
Enforcement of Child Support Warrants
Often, child support warrants call for an
individual to be brought before a judge to address the current
situation. This may be that s/he has fallen behind on payments or
lost his or her job. They are often arrested due to the warrant and
must see the judge before being released. The judge may then suspend
or order immediate payment, attach a collection on his or her credit
report, or order garnishment of paychecks or withholding of state
income tax returns. Records of current warrants are available
through private search engines, which have the advantage of access
to multiple databases across the country.
What are County Warrants?
County warrants are issued by county judges or
magistrates serving in the court which is petitioned or concerned
with the capture of an individual. Types of county warrants include
arrest, bench and search warrants, and these are frequently issued
because someone is either considered a suspect, has violated court
instructions or may have information regarding a case.
Storage of County Warrants
Each county sheriff’s office maintains and
serves county warrants. Official local websites often offer either a
daily listing of recently issued county warrants, or allow a public
search for warrants in someone’s name. The amount of information
provided for these searches and lists in public view vary according
to local and state laws regarding the matter.
Warrants are considered active until they are
fulfilled. For example, an arrest warrant becomes an arrest record
when the law enforcement officer finds the subject, serves the
warrant and arrests him or her. If you do not find active warrants
on the list with the local sheriff, you may still check for past
arrests held with the Department of Corrections of local county
Transfer of County Warrants
County warrants are not searchable through other county or state
databases to the public. Though law enforcement officers across the
country can access these records, you cannot. This means that you
will need to search every state or county that someone has lived in
to determine if there are any county warrants in his or her name.
Private websites offer a much more user-friendly way to search, as
multiple databases will return county warrant results from all over
the country with one search.
What are Court Warrants?
Municipal and other local government courts
often issue court warrants in order to allow for someone’s arrest or
appearance in court. The main types of court warrants include Notice
to Appear, Uniform Criminal Complaint, Court Bench Warrant, Citation
Warrant and Probation Violation.
Differences in Court Warrants
Notice to Appear Warrants may be served to an
individual, but do not require them to be taken into custody and
booked at the local jail. These are essentially a subpoena usually
issued in the name of a witness.
Uniform Criminal Complaint Warrants require the
person to be arrested and booked, and must either appear before the
judge and/or be granted bail in order to be released.
A Court Bench Warrant is normally issued by a
judge when someone is found to be in contempt of court or failed to
appear at a court date. These bench warrants allow the serving
officer to arrest the individual and take him or her into custody.
Citation warrants are non-criminal warrants
that are frequently issued due to traffic infractions. Depending
upon the offense and jurisdiction, these are the same as traffic
tickets and may be fulfilled by paying a fine or appearing in
traffic court to dispute them.
Probation Violation Warrants are issued when
someone violates their probation by perhaps leaving the state
without permission, committing repeat offenses or missing meetings
with probation officers. These warrants often require a court
appearance by the offender.
Finding Court Warrants
These warrants vary in type and name depending
upon the jurisdiction issuing them. Your city or state may have
different warrants that are outlined on the corresponding official
websites. Private search engines allow you to simultaneously search
multiple jurisdictions at once if you need to find court warrants in
your name or someone else’s.
What are Criminal Warrants?
Criminal warrants are issued according to
orders by a judge. These warrants are more commonly known as “arrest
warrants,” and allow law enforcement officials to take the subject
into custody without risking future legal recourse from them. They
are issued because the subject has committed a crime worthy of being
arrested, and may be petitioned by police or even local citizens.
Judges may also issue criminal warrants if someone misses a court
date or violates his or her parole.
Reasons for Searching for Criminal Warrants
If you are an employer or landlord, you most
likely want to conduct a background check on potential tenants and
employees. Another reason to check for criminal warrants in
someone’s name is if you meet someone who acts suspiciously or start
dating an otherwise complete stranger.
Finding Criminal Warrants and Submitting Tips
A criminal warrant search may be conducted
through the local sheriff’s or police department’s website for your
state or county. If you find that you have a criminal warrant in
your name, perhaps turning yourself in or contacting an attorney is
the best course of action. If you discover that someone else you
know or have met has an outstanding and active warrant in his or her
name, you can often submit a tip online to help the authorities find
the individual and serve the warrant.
Unfortunately, public sources of criminal
warrant information do not cross state lines, so you must conduct a
warrant search in every county or state where the person has lived
in the past. Private search services offer the ability to search
multiple databases at once, saving you time and effort in the
What are Federal Warrants?
The U.S. Marshals fulfilled nearly 40,000
federal warrants in the year 2008, and help state and local agencies
to apprehend 73,000 felony fugitives. U.S. Marshals are federal
agents which are charged with serving federal warrants and arresting
fugitives, conducting federal drug investigations, finding parole
and probation violators, and assisting state and local authorities
in finding their fugitives and Most Wanted persons.
Federal Most Wanted Fugitives
Marshals maintain a list of the top 15 Most Wanted federal fugitives
considered to be a threat to society. These are most often career
and/or violent criminals who have either escaped from prison, missed
a court date or violated their probation and now have a federal
warrant in their name.
Regional Task Force Services
Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000, the U.S. Marshals
Service does much more than investigate and capture subjects of
federal warrants. Several task forces established throughout the
country aim to combine federal, state and local resources and
investigators to help solve the most challenging cases and find
fugitives throughout the country.
Issuance of Federal Warrants
Federal warrants are issued by federal judges
in either one of the 94 federal district courts or the Supreme
Court. They are frequently petitioned by the U.S. Marshals Service
when a prisoner escapes from a federal penitentiary, or someone is a
suspect in a federal case and will not voluntarily present himself
to authorities for questioning.
Storing Federal Warrants
Crime Information Center (NCIC) maintains federal warrants
electronically for state, federal and local agencies to access.
What are Outstanding Warrants?
Outstanding warrants may be warrants of any
type and issuance that have not been served to the subject. Arrest
and bench warrants are the most common types to be outstanding, and
remain so until the person named in them appears before the issuing
judge or is arrested and makes bail.
Reasons for Outstanding Warrants
Most likely, warrants are either outstanding
because the person doesn’t know of their existence or they are
purposely evading law enforcement. It is quite common for police to
check a person’s driver’s license number during routine traffic
stops for outstanding warrants. If there is a warrant in their name,
the police may then detain and bring in the individual to fulfill
Outstanding warrants not only risk sending the
subject to jail during inopportune times, but also can prevent them
from renewing licenses or applying for government identification.
Employers may also run a warrant check on an individual before
hiring him or her.
Finding Outstanding Warrants
Outstanding warrants are often found through
the local Department of Corrections’ or state police website. The
local county clerk may also retain records of currently outstanding
When searching for these warrants, you need to
check with every jurisdiction that the person has traveled to or
lived in for the past several years. This can take significant time
and effort, and many jurisdictions may not even allow electronic
searches to be performed by the public. However, private sources of
information allow you to cross-check multiple government databases
at once to provide you with more complete results in this process.
What are Police Warrants?
Police warrants are generally considered the
legal writs of action either requested by or served by the local
state police department. Police warrants may include search
warrants, bench warrants or citation warrants. You may usually find
these warrants on file with the local police department or county
Types of Police Warrants
Bench warrants are ordered by a judge when
someone fails to appear or is otherwise found to be held in contempt
of court. The law enforcement officers may use this warrant to
arrest the subject. When a bench warrant is issued, a letter
notifying the subject is sent to his or her address, and they may
turn themselves in at that time. If they don’t, the warrant remains
outstanding and active indefinitely.
Search warrants are also frequently served by
the local police, and allow them to search someone’s personal
property or residence without his or her consent. In order to obtain
this type of warrant from the judge, the police need to show
probable cause for suspecting the property may contain evidence or
information related to an investigation. If the owner of the
property consents to a search, such as in a routine traffic stop, a
search warrant is not needed.
Citation warrants are issued by the police
department in regard to traffic infractions. These may be given to
the driver in person or mailed to his or her home. The driver may
then either pay the citation or go to traffic court.
Finding Police Warrants
Most local police departments will offer the
ability to search for warrants in an individual’s name through their
official website. However, a more thorough search through
departments across the country may be performed with a private
service, saving time and allowing you to simultaneously find
warrants existing in multiple databases.
What are State Warrants?
State warrants are essentially government
“IOUs” that are given to citizens when the funds are not available
to pay them directly. This may be the case when there are income tax
refunds or refunds of overpayment of property tax due to an
individual. There are also two types of state warrants – regular and
Regular vs. Registered Warrants
regular and registered state warrants are guaranteed by a financial
institution which has agreed to honor the IOU amounts given to state
citizens. The main difference is that registered warrants pay
interest during the time you must wait for your money from the
government; regular warrants do not pay interest, but are redeemable
at the time they are received. California is one such state that
uses registered state warrants.
Finding Records of State Warrants
Most states offer an “unclaimed property” link
through their official government website that will provide
information about outstanding regular or registered state warrants
issued in someone’s name. You may be entitled to one of these if the
state government owed you payment for any reason, and it was perhaps
mailed to the wrong address or never deposited in the past.
Other Types of State Warrants
In addition to IOUs from the government, state
warrants may include arrest, bench, execution and search warrants
that are generally available through the state’s police department
website. If you want to search several different state governments
at a time or are conducting a background check on an individual,
using a private search engine will save considerable time and effort
by utilizing multiple databases at once.
About City Warrants
City warrants are defined
as such because of where they originate—in the city. In many
ways they are very similar to a county warrant or other warrant.
They are also different in some ways.
This article will provide
you with a brief overview of what a city warrant is and why it
would be issued. It will also direct you to resources where you
can find lists of active warrants in your city.
What are City
City warrants are
comparable to other warrants. Their main purpose is to authorize
law enforcement to search for and arrest the individual named in
These warrants must be
authorized by the court. They are started by a prosecuting
attorney filling out a complaint that contains information on
the name of the individual or his or her description, the nature
of the crime, and specifics that require the apprehension of the
Often these specifics
draw a parallel between the individual named in the warrant and
the crime. The person named in the warrant is not necessarily
the perpetrator of the crime.
A city warrant is
essentially a warrant issued at the municipal level or city
level. This means that the city courthouse issued the warrant in
request of the apprehension of the individual named.
For more information on
how warrants are issued you may visit your local courthouse
website, or the Michigan courthouse website at
Why Are City Warrants
City warrants may be
issued for many reasons. One common reason for issuing a city
warrant is to apprehend a person accused of a crime. The
defendant is then brought before the court.
There are also city
warrants issued to search a location and seize information or
objects related to the crime or incident. These are known as
“search” warrants and are executed by law enforcement personnel.
City warrants may also be
issued if an individual does not respect the court. If they
attend court and are extremely disrespectful, or they do not
comply with court-ordered instructions then they will be issued
a “bench” city warrant, which comes directly from the court.
Witnesses to disputes may also be acquired using a city warrant.
This is usually to ensure that the witnesses are in attendance
on the court days in question. This type of city warrant is
often used in civil cases.
Where Can I Find
Active City Warrant Lists?
If your city courthouse
maintains a website, which most do, they will most likely have a
list of active and outstanding warrants issued.
You may be able to find
the list directly on their website, such as at the Amarillo,
Texas website at
http://police.amarillo.gov/warrants.html, or find
information on contacting your city’s warrant office.
If your city has a
warrant office you may call them by phone to see if there are
outstanding warrants. Some offices will not provide information
on city warrants over the phone due to privacy issues.
If you are not able to
get information on city warrants on the Internet or over the
phone, you may wish to go directly to the courthouse and ask if
there are outstanding warrants. If you or someone you know is
named in an active warrant you should immediately take action to
If you are named in a
warrant you may wish to turn yourself in immediately to avoid an
unexpected arrest, or contact a lawyer to assist in setting up a
If you know the
whereabouts of someone named in city warrant you should not
attempt to apprehend them. Instead, contact your city police
station or courthouse and provide them with information on your
Free Warrant Search
If you believe you or
someone you know has a warrant issued against them it is
important to conduct a quick and efficient search of warrants
issued in your area. There are several ways to search for issued
This article will provide
you with resources to search for warrants issued in your county
or town. It will also provide a description of the different
kinds of warrants that may be issued and what you can do if you
or someone else is named in a warrant.
Where Can I Conduct A
Free Warrant Search?
In some cases, you may
wish to make use of a commercial site in order to conduct a
warrant search. Though some sites exist that will provide you
with information on issued warrants, you should first avail
yourself of resources available in your county.
You will first want to
visit your county’s website. Many county court websites contain
pages that list those named in active warrants. For example, the
Lancaster County, Nebraska website, at
lists warrants issued in alphabetical order of the accused on
Your county court website
may also provide a search engine by which you can search for the
last name of the individual named on the warrant.
If you believe you or
someone you know has a warrant issued for their arrest, you can
use these sites to check. They will also provide you with
information on the crimes committed, and possibly the person's
last known location.
What Kinds of Warrants
The type of warrant
issued will vary with the complaint against the accused. Two
main types of warrants issued are arrest warrants and bench
warrants. There are also warrants that can be issued in
different types, such as warrants of arrest in rem.
Arrest warrants are
issued based on a complaint filed by the prosecuting attorney.
These warrants make it possible for a law enforcement officer to
arrest the individual named at any time. These warrants are
issued based on probable cause that the accused individual named
committed the crime indicated.
A bench warrant is issued
directly by the court. These are issued when the individual
fails to comply with court orders. They may be issued if the
individual does not pay fines, appear on court ordered court
dates, or otherwise does not comply with court orders.
A warrant of arrest
in rem is simply a warrant for a crime committed against a
piece of property. These may be issued by a private party or
federal agency, and are executed by U.S. Marshals or Deputy
What Do I Do if I Know
Someone Named in a Warrant?
If you are the person
named in the warrant you have several ways of attempting to
clear the warrant. If you wish you may turn yourself in to the
local police. Please do not attempt to go directly to jail, as
jail personnel are not authorized to make arrests.
You may also visit the
courthouse that issued the warrant and ask for a court hearing.
Other options include contacting an attorney or bail bond
company and requesting their assistance in setting a court date
or paying bail.
If you know someone who
has a warrant issued for them you should NOT attempt to
apprehend them. Instead, contact your county courthouse and
report their whereabouts. Once again, do not attempt to
apprehend the individuals yourself.
Using a Warrant List
If you believe you have
been named in an issued warrant, or know someone else who may
be, it is important to access lists of warrants issued in your
area. There are several options available when accessing warrant
Once you have confirmed
that a warrant has been issued you will need to assess what type
of warrant it is and what you should do about it. This article
will help you to find a warrant list, help you assess what
warrant was issued, and describe steps you can take to clear the
Where Can I Find
It is best to go directly
to your county courthouse for information on issued warrants.
Many county courthouses have websites that list the outstanding
warrants they currently have issued.
For example, the city of
Mankato, Minnesota updates their warrant list weekly. Their list
can be found at
For a warrant list in
your own city or county, please visit its webpage and search for
“active arrest warrants” or perhaps “most wanted” in your area.
You will be able to find lists of active arrest warrants for the
city or county in question.
Your county may also
provide a search engine by which you can input the name of the
individual in question. If they are named in the warrant you
will receive a hit. The website may also list their age, date of
birth, sex, race, and other details about the supposed crime.
Arrests should not be
made solely based on the information available on your county’s
website. In many cases the information may be outdated, or may
be related to another person with a similar name.
What Types of Warrants
The two main types of
warrants issued are arrest warrants and bench warrants. Both can
result in the arrest of the individual.
Arrest warrants listed
are issued based on a complaint filed by the prosecuting
attorney. This complaint contains the name or description of the
accused, information related to the alleged crime, and an order
by the court for law enforcement to apprehend the defendant.
When an arrest warrant is executed the individual named is
arrested by law enforcement personnel.
A bench warrant is issued
directly by the court due to the defendant's noncompliance with
court orders. This may include actions such as not paying court
ordered fines, not appearing on court ordered court dates, and
not completing court ordered rehabilitation or classes.
These bench warrants give
law enforcement officers permission to immediately arrest the
How Can I Clear the
A warrant can be cleared
in several ways. If you do not wish to be arrested unexpectedly
you will need to take other actions to clear the warrant.
Warrants do not expire, except upon the death of the individual
named in them.
When clearing a warrant
your first task is to appear before the court that issued the
warrant. You will speak to a judge, who will decide what happens
Some major cities, such
as New York, New York, have a Warrant Squad which may assist you
in clearing the warrant. For the New York City Police
Administration frequently asked questions page, and more
information on this, please visit
If you plan to clear a
warrant by appearing before a judge you must report in person,
preferably with photo identification, to turn yourself in. Do
not go directly to jail, but instead to your local police
department or the department where the warrant was issued.
You may wish to contact a
lawyer or bail bondsman to ask for assistance in your court
hearing or posting bail.
and Utilizing Warrant Records
Warrant records are
kept by the court that issued them. These records are
created to assist in apprehending the individuals named in
court issued warrants. If you believe you or someone you
know has been named in a warrant you may wish to locate
warrant records to confirm or deny this.
If you are searching
for warrant records you will have to know several things
about them. You will need to know what a warrant record is,
when they are issued, and how to locate warrant records of
your local area.
What Is a Warrant?
A warrant is a court
order. This order authorizes law enforcement personnel to
actively search for and arrest the individual named in the
warrant. A warrant may be issued for a variety of reasons.
A warrant may be
issued by a prosecuting attorney to apprehend a person
accused of committing a certain crime. These warrants start
with a complaint written by the prosecuting attorney.
These complaints must
describe the nature of the incident including dates and
times, the name of the person accused or his or her
description, and must be approved by the court.
A bench warrant may
also be issued. A bench warrant is issued directly by the
court and authorizes the immediate arrest of the individual
named. These warrants apply in cases where the individual
fails to comply with court orders.
When Are Warrants
A warrant may be
issued any time the individual named is not in compliance
with the court. This non-compliance can range from
disrespect and not paying fines, to refusing to take court
ordered classes or attend court on specified dates.
A warrant may also be
issued to search and seize evidence related to the crime.
These are search warrants and are executed against property,
such as searching a home or place of business, or
Another reason for
issuing a warrant may be in civil cases where a witness saw
the dispute. These warrants are to ensure that the
individual who gave witness to the events appears in court
and provides testimony.
These warrants may be
issued at any time the individual named is accused of
failing to comply with the court, or is accused of breaking
a law or committing a crime.
Warrants must go
through several steps, and are not instantaneous. Because of
this the individual named may not be aware they have an
outstanding warrant. It is therefore important to keep up to
date with warrant issuances in your area whenever you think
you may have been named in a warrant.
How Do I Locate
Warrant Records in My Area?
There are two ways to
check if you have an active warrant against you. The first
way is to see if your county or city court house maintains a
website, such as the one at the City of San Antonio website,
If your court does
maintain a website they will most likely have a list of
active warrants that is updated on a regular basis. You may
search for “warrants list” or “most wanted” in your area.
If you cannot find a
warrants list then please call your local courthouse or
appear in person to check warrant listings. Some information
cannot be given out over the phone due to privacy concerns.
Different Types of Issued Warrants
A court may have many
reasons for issuing a warrant. If a legal complaint is made
against an individual he or she may be named in an arrest
warrant, and when the warrant is issued he or she may be
arrested by law enforcement personnel.
There several things
you will need to know about issued warrants, including how
they are issued, why they are issued, and where you can
locate lists of issued warrants. This article will provide
you with answers to these questions.
How Are Warrants
Before a warrant can
be issued a complaint must be filed. This complaint, when
accepted by the court, formally charges the defendant. The
complaint is usually filed by the prosecuting attorney.
describes the nature of the accusation against the person
being accused. The complaint will also contain information
on the accused, including his or her name or description if
the identity is unknown.
A warrant will then
be issued by order of the court to arrest the accused. When
the accused is arrested or otherwise clears the warrant he
or she will appear before the court.
For more on the
specifics of issuing warrants, you may visit the Michigan
Courts website at
Why Are Warrants
A warrant may be
issued for many reasons. If the warrant is an arrest
warrant, then the court must have reasonable suspicion that
the individual named in the warrant perpetrated the crime.
The prosecutor must
be able to show probable or reasonable cause. These are
facts, not conclusions, which are sufficient to cause a
person to believe the accused defendant committed the crime.
A bench warrant may
also be issued. These are warrants issued directly by the
court. These warrants are issued for several different
reasons as well.
If the individual
fails to comply with orders of the court they may be named
in a bench warrant. A police officer will be directed to
immediately arrest the defendant.
There are several
cases where a bench warrant may be issued. If the defendant
fails to pay fines or costs associated with his or her
crime, a bench warrant may be issued.
If the defendant does
not appear for their court date that was ordered by the
court, they may be issued a bench warrant. Any other cases
where the defendant fails to comply with court orders may
require the court to issue a bench warrant.
You can find
information on this at
and contact your local court to understand the specifics of
court non-compliance in your area.
Where Can I Find
Lists of Issued Warrants?
If you or someone you
know has a warrant issued against them it is important to
know where you can find a list of issued warrants.
If your county
courthouse maintains a website you may be able to find a
list of issued warrants there. You can visit your county’s
website and conduct a warrant search.
There are several
different methods of organizing the issued warrants list.
You may find a list of warrants sorted by the accused
person's name. You may also find a search engine to search
by last name of the accused named.
You can also contact
your county courthouse. In some cases, you will have to
appear in person to ensure that confidential data is not
given away over the phone.
Issuing and Clearing a Warrant for Arrest
A warrant for
arrest is a warrant issued by the court authorizing the
arrest of the individual named on the warrant. These
warrants are executed by peace officers, and the
individual may be arrested and brought before the court
for a hearing. The individual named on the warrant may
also turn themselves in, or make other attempts to clear
the arrest warrant.
What Is a
Warrant for Arrest?
An arrest warrant
is one that demands the individual named in the warrant
appear before the court to answer a complaint issued.
The complaint is
issued by the prosecuting attorney. He or she files the
complaint, often in written form, with the judge. The
judge will examine the complaint and decide whether or
not to issue a warrant for arrest.
When the warrant
is issued the individual named in the warrant is ordered
to be arrested and brought before the court.
An arrest warrant
may be issued for an indictment, a complaint, a
violation, a probation violation, by order of the court,
or other reason. The offense will be briefly described,
and upon arrest will be completed with identifying
information related to the defendant.
The warrant for
arrest should also contain the name of the person. If
the name of the accused is not known then a description
of the individual should follow.
The warrant will
also command an officer to arrest the individual accused
and bring them before the court. The warrant is not
valid unless signed by the court.
For an example of
a blank warrant for arrest, you may visit the U.S.
Courts website at
There are also
warrants of arrest in rem. These warrants are
for offenses made against an object instead of a person,
and may be issued by a private party or federal agency.
are executed by authorized police officers or other law
enforcement individuals. In the case of a warrant for
arrest in rem the warrant may be executed by a
U.S. Marshal. A Deputy U.S. Marshal may also execute the
warrant in rem. Upon arrest the police officer
will need to return a copy of the warrant to the
The warrant for
arrest may be cleared by the individual named in several
ways. If the individual named wishes to attempt to clear
the warrant she or he may turn themselves into the
police station. Turning oneself directly into the jail
is not feasible, as they are not authorized to arrest
based on a warrant.
named may also contact the court that issued the
warrant, or contact an attorney or other bail bond
company. They will be able to assist the individual in
appearing in court or paying bail.
information on clearing a warrant in your area you
should head to your county or town courthouse. They may
also provide a website for your convenience.
When Is a
Warrant for Arrest Not Needed?
An arrest may be
made even if a warrant is not issued. For example, if
the individual commits the crime in view of the law
enforcement officer, then the officer has the authority
to make an arrest. The law enforcement also has
authority if they have reasonable suspicion that the
individual committed the crime. They may make an arrest
in this case as well. A warrant is also not required if
the individual is already in custody from an arrest not
based on an arrest warrant.
and Records of Warrants
court approved documents authorizing the arrest of
individuals accused of committing crimes. There are many
different types of warrants that can be issued by the
city, county, state, or federal courts.
describes the three main types of warrants, provides
information on how to clear a warrant and avoid an
unexpected arrest, and information on how to find
warrant lists in your area.
What Are the
Three Main Types of Warrants?
The three main
types of warrants issued are search and seizure
warrants, arrest warrants, and bench warrants.
seizure warrants authorize law enforcement personnel to
search a piece of property and seize information related
to the case or crime at hand.
A search and
seizure warrant is filled out with information on the
property to be searched. It should also contain the name
of the person who owns the property and the address of
If property is to
be seized it must also be described in the warrant.
Property unrelated to the case or crime cannot be
seized. The warrant will have to be approved by the
An arrest warrant
is a warrant for the arrest of an individual accused of
committing a crime. This warrant starts with a complaint
issued by the prosecuting attorney.
The attorney will
spell out the nature of the alleged crime, including the
time, date, and place of the crime, and make reference
to any victims. The name of the accused individual will
be included, and if his or her name in unknown they will
warrant must be approved by the court, and when it is
any authorized law enforcement personnel may actively
search for and arrest the individual named.
A bench warrant
is issued directly by the court. This type of warrant is
issued when the individual named is not complying with
This type of
non-compliance could be failure to pay fines, failure to
appear on court ordered court dates, failure to attend
court ordered classes or other rehabilitation, or other
non-compliance with the court.
This type of
warrant is issued by the judge and gives authorized law
enforcement personnel the ability to arrest the
How Can I
Clear a Warrant?
In order to clear
a warrant you must contact the court that issued it. You
may do this in one of several ways.
You may go in
person, with photo identification, to the courthouse or
police station. You cannot go directly to jail, as the
jail personnel do not possess the authority to arrest a
person based on an arrest warrant.
You may also
contact a lawyer or bail bondsman and ask them to assist
you in setting a court date or paying bail.
person is usually the only way to clear a warrant. This
cannot be done over the phone or email.
How Can I Find
Warrant Lists in My Area?
If your city or
municipal court house maintains a website you should
check there first. You may search for “warrants” or
perhaps “most wanted.” Most courthouses will provide
lists of active warrants.
If you cannot
find your local courthouse website then you should
contact them. You may be able to call and confirm the
state of the warrant in question, but in many cases you
will have to go in personally.
warrants may not be given out over phone due to privacy
concerns and the possibility of a false identification
and false arrest.
Understanding Bench Warrants
warrants are orders issued by a judge authorizing
law enforcement officials to arrest an individual
for failing to appear in court or otherwise being
held in contempt. These warrants are a type of
arrest warrant and allow the subject to be arrested
without the arresting officer to be held legally
liable. Upon their arrest, they are typically held
in the local jail while awaiting an appearance
before the issuing judge.
for Bench Warrants
before the judge, the defendant will now need to
answer to both the original charges he or she was
scheduled to remedy in court in addition to the
failure to appear accusations. The penalties for
failing to appear often include fines or perhaps
even community service or a short time in jail, but
the local and state laws will determine this
failure to appear at a scheduled court appearance is
usually the cause for issuing a bench warrant, but
there are other cases where failure to appear can
result in different outcomes. Traffic court, for
instance, does not usually require the driver to
appear unless he/she wants to argue the ticket or
other infraction. When the driver fails to appear,
it is generally assumed he/she is pleading guilty to
the charges and thus they are entered on their
permanent driving record and a fine is typically
cases, often those of a civil matter, if you fail to
appear the court may assume that you are
surrendering your case. This means if you are the
plaintiff bringing the case to court, the charges
against the defendant are dropped. If you are the
defendant, you may automatically be found guilty and
ordered to pay a fine or fulfill a judgment without
being able to plead your case.
In order to
ensure there are not any bench warrants issued in
your name, you will need to appear promptly to any
and all court times that you are responsible for.
Often, if you are ever arrested or accused of a
crime your best bet is to retain the proper legal
counsel to oversee your court dates and times for
you. There may be several court dates that your
attorney can appear at for you, and can inform you
about the dates and times you must show up well
ahead of time.
What to Do
About a Bench Warrant in Your Name
If you should
ever find that there has been a bench warrant issued
in your name, the best way to deal with it is to
contact the issuing court immediately to reschedule
your court appearance. You may also need to
surrender at the local law enforcement agency to
remedy the situation. Although this may mean that
you must remain at the local jail while awaiting a
new court appearance, this is usually a far better
option than risking being taken by surprise and
arrested during a routine traffic stop or visit to
Understanding County Warrants
issues its own warrants against the accused. If you
suspect the county you reside in, or another county
you do not reside in, has issued a warrant for your
arrest there are some ways for you check for this.
This article will describe what a warrant is, what
it means for you, and how to see if a warrant has
been issued naming you as the accused.
What Is a
issued by the county may take several different
forms. An arrest warrant or bench warrant may have
been issued. A private party or federal agency may
also issue a warrant in rem.
warrant is just that, a warrant for the arrest of
the individual named. The arrest warrant is started
by the prosecution filing a complaint. The complaint
is then reviewed by a judge.
will contain the name of the accused. If the name is
unknown then identifying information will be
included. A description of the crime perpetrated,
the dates and times in question, and other key
information will all be included.
If the court
signs off on the county warrant then a law
enforcement officer may arrest the individual named
warrant is issued by a judge. If the defendant does
not comply with a direct court order this type of
warrant may be issued. This cannot be used if the
defendant has not already appeared in court for the
complaint originally issued.
This type of
warrant may be issued if the defendant did not pay
the fines he or she was issued. It may also be
issued by a judge if the defendant did not appear in
court on the ordered date, or if he or she did not
complete classes or rehabilitation ordered.
what occurs in the issuance of a bench or arrest
warrant can be found on the Michigan Courts website,
in rem is issued for crimes against property,
and is usually executed by a U.S. Marshall or Deputy
a Warrant Mean for Me?
most likely means you will be arrested at some
point. If a warrant has been issued naming you as
the accused in the complaint, then any authorized
law enforcement officer maintains the right to
arrest you at any time.
several options you have to attempt to clear the
warrant before a sudden arrest. If you know you have
a warrant issued against you, then you may wish to
turn yourself in.
Go to your
local police station, or the station in the county
where the warrant was issued, and turn yourself in.
It is not possible to bypass this step and go
directly to the jail, as jail personnel are not
authorized to make arrests based on county issued
You may also
contact a bail bond company, attorney, or the court
in question and arrange a court date or pay bail.
How Do I
Check If a County Warrant Has Been Issued for My
will provide a list of active warrants. If you
believe you or someone you know has a warrant out
for their arrest you may check their website.
list the name of the accused, crime they are accused
of, and the warrant issued date. Ulster County, New
York is an example at
websites provide search engines where you can search
for the name of the individual in question and
observe any warrants they may have been named in.
Dakota County, Minnesota provides an example of this
type of search engine at
on warrants is not available over the telephone. In
order to talk about a warrant issued you must appear
Understanding Federal Warrants
warrants are warrants issued by federal courts
or the federal government to permit law
enforcement to apprehend the individual named in
the warrant. Federal warrants are in many ways
very similar to a warrant issued at the city or
article describes what a federal warrant is and
why they are issued. It will also describe the
different types of warrants that can be issued.
Is a Federal Warrant?
warrant is a warrant issued at the federal
level. Like warrants issued at the city level,
these authorize law enforcement to actively
search for and arrest the individual named.
warrants are usually given for more serious
crimes. On the city or county level, the courts
take care of misdemeanor crimes. A felony may
require a federal warrant.
crime crosses state lines a federal warrant may
also be required. These warrants may put the
individual named on the FBI’s list of
outstanding warrants, or in serious cases on the
FBI’s most wanted list. You can access the FBI’s
most wanted fugitive list at
Types of Warrants Can Be Issued?
warrants come in several types. The most
commonly thought of type of federal warrant is
the arrest warrant.
warrants are warrants for the arrest of the
individual named. They must contain the name of
the defendant and a description of the crime
they are accused of committing.
warrant commands any authorized law enforcement
officer to arrest the individual named if they
are found. This officer must then return the
warrant and provide information on the
individual that is personal and is to remain
type of warrant is a search and seizure warrant.
These warrants contain information on the
property to be searched and should identify the
owner or address of the property.
also contain information on the type of property
that can be seized. These warrants must be
executed within fourteen days of authorization.
They may be executed by any law enforcement
officer that is authorized.
also warrants issued for witnesses. These
warrants are known as subpoenas to testify. They
are directed at the person being subpoenaed and
provide her or him with information on the
place, date, and time they will be required to
appear. The person may also be asked to bring
with them certain documents pertaining to the
of these and other warrants, as well as other
legal documents, can be found in pdf form on the
U.S. Courts website at
Are Warrants Issued?
are issued for a variety of reasons as stated
above. Generally, however, a warrant will be
issued if the individual named is accused of
committing a crime they have not already been
individual is already arrested on another charge
a warrant for their arrest may not be required.
If they are already in custody from a
warrant-less arrest a warrant is not required.
may be issued when the individual is not
complying with court orders. If the individual
fails to pay his or her fines, attend court
ordered classes, or appear on court ordered
court dates then he or she may be issued a bench
may also be issued in civil cases to ensure that
a witness to the dispute is present at the
What a Criminal Warrant Means to
Criminal warrants are warrants for the
arrest of the person named in the warrant.
There are many things you may be unaware of
in regard to these warrants. This article
will explain how a warrant is issued and
what it means for the individual named in
the warrant. It will also describe some
options the individual named has to attempt
to clear a warrant.
How Is a Criminal Warrant Issued?
criminal warrant, or arrest warrant, is
issued by a judge. A formal charge is filed
by the prosecuting attorney, and he or she
will go to the judge and request a warrant.
If the judge agrees that the complaint is
justified he or she will issue a warrant.
The issuance of this warrant allows police
officers to arrest the person named in the
are some instances where an arrest warrant
will not be required for the arrest of the
individual. If a serious crime, usually a
felony, is committed with the officer
present, he or she may arrest the
individual. Likewise, if the officer has
reasonable belief that the crime was
perpetrated by the individual he or she may
arrest the supposed perpetrator.
warrant is also not required when the
individual is already arrested without a
the warrant has been executed and the
individual arrested, they may face hearings,
court, possibly a grand jury and even jail
time. For an example of what the individual
named in the warrant may face after his or
her arrest, please visit the Missouri
Attorney General’s website at
What Does a Criminal Warrant Mean for the
you are the individual named in the criminal
or arrest warrant you are accused of
committing the crime in question. This means
many different things to you.
person authorized by law will be required to
arrest you. This is known as executing the
may be held in jail until you are able to
see a judge and appear before the court. It
may take some time to see a judge, but you
should check in your state for the legal
maximum amount of time you are allowed to be
held without seeing a judge.
will stay in jail until you have posted
bail, or someone has posted it for you, or
until you are released by the court.
you cannot afford a private lawyer you may
be afforded a public defender. These
defenders are employed by the state and work
to represent you in your case.
What Can Be Done to Clear a Criminal
you know you have been named in a warrant
and you wish to clear the warrant you have
three main options available to you.
may turn yourself in. You will have to go
directly to a police station, as only an
arrest by a police officer is possible. You
cannot simply go directly to jail, as the
persons in charge of the jail are not able
to make arrests from a warrant.
may also call the court that issued the
warrant. You can schedule a court date
through them. The warrant will most likely
remain active until you have posted bail,
been arrest, or had it cleared by the court.
third option is to find a lawyer or bail
bond company. They will assist you in making
arrangements to post bail or appear in
can find out more information on the
Internet by visiting your town’s sheriff or