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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.

Finding Warrants

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.

Searching for Active Warrants

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.

Private websites 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 fulfilled.

Bounty Hunters and Arrest Warrants

Frequently, 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.

Each state 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.

Searching for Arrest Warrants

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 simultaneously.

 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 bench warrant.

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

Each 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 clerk’s office.

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 to Authorities

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 process.

 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

The U.S. 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

Under the 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

The National 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 the warrant.

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 warrants.

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 clerk’s office.

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 registered.

Regular vs. Registered Warrants

Both 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 Warrants?

City warrants are comparable to other warrants. Their main purpose is to authorize law enforcement to search for and arrest the individual named in the warrant.

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 individual.

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 http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/resources/publications/manuals/magis/mag_sec3.pdfas an example.

Why Are City Warrants Issued?

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 clear it.

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 court date.

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 acquaintance.

Conducting A 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 warrants.

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 http://lancaster.ne.gov/city/police/stats/warrant1.htm, lists warrants issued in alphabetical order of the accused on the warrant.

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 Are Issued?

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 Marshals.

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.

Finding and 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 listings.

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 warrant.

Where Can I Find Warrant Lists?

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 www.mankato-mn.gov/upload/contents/436/active%20warrant%20list.pdf. 

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 are Issued?

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 individual named.

How Can I Clear the Warrant?

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 next.

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 www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/faq/faq_police.shtml.

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. 

Finding 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 Issued?

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 confiscating clothing.

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, www.sanantonio.gov/court/.

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.

Finding 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 Issued?

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.

The complaint 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 http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/resources/publications/manuals/magis/ mag_sec3.pdf.

Why Are Warrants Issued?

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 http://www.dickinson-tx.gov/municipal_court_warrants.htm, 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 www.uscourts.gov/forms/AO442.pdf.

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.

Who Executes Arrest Warrants?

Arrest warrants 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 courthouse.

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.

The individual 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.

For more 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.

Types and Records of Warrants

Warrants are 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.

This article 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.

Search and 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 the property.

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 court.

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 be described.

This arrest 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 court orders.

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 individual immediately.

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.

Appearing in 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.

Information on 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

Bench 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.

Appearing for Bench Warrants

When brought 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 punishment.

Failure to Appear

As stated, 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 required.

In other 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.

Avoiding Bench Warrants

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 your residence.

Understanding County Warrants

Each county 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 County Warrant?

A warrant 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.

An arrest 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.

The complaint 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 whenever possible.

A bench 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.

Examples of what occurs in the issuance of a bench or arrest warrant can be found on the Michigan Courts website, at http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/resources/publications/manuals/magis/mag_sec3.pdf.

A warrant in rem is issued for crimes against property, and is usually executed by a U.S. Marshall or Deputy U.S. Marshall.

What Does a Warrant Mean for Me?

A warrant 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.

There are 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 warrants.

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 Arrest?

Most counties 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.

Some counties list the name of the accused, crime they are accused of, and the warrant issued date. Ulster County, New York is an example at www.ulstercountyny.gov/sheriff/warrants/warrants.html.

Other county 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 http://services.co.dakota.mn.us/Warrants/.

Information on warrants is not available over the telephone. In order to talk about a warrant issued you must appear in person.

Understanding Federal Warrants

Federal 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 municipal level.

This 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.

What Is a Federal Warrant?

A federal 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.

Federal 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.

If the 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 www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm.

What Types of Warrants Can Be Issued?

Federal warrants come in several types. The most commonly thought of type of federal warrant is the arrest warrant.

Arrest 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.

An arrest 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 classified.

Another 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.

They may 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.  

There are 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 case. 

Examples of these and other warrants, as well as other legal documents, can be found in pdf form on the U.S. Courts website at www.uscourts.gov/FormsAndFees/Forms/CourtForms.aspx.

Why Are Warrants Issued?

Warrants 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 arrested for.

If the 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.

A warrant 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 warrant.

Warrants may also be issued in civil cases to ensure that a witness to the dispute is present at the trial.

What a Criminal Warrant Means to You

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?

A 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 warrant.

There 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.

A warrant is also not required when the individual is already arrested without a warrant.

After 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 http://ago.mo.gov/publications/courtprocess.pdf.

What Does a Criminal Warrant Mean for the Individual Named?

If 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.

A person authorized by law will be required to arrest you. This is known as executing the arrest warrant.

You 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.

You will stay in jail until you have posted bail, or someone has posted it for you, or until you are released by the court.

If 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 Warrant?

If you know you have been named in a warrant and you wish to clear the warrant you have three main options available to you.

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.

You 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.

A third option is to find a lawyer or bail bond company. They will assist you in making arrangements to post bail or appear in court.

You can find out more information on the Internet by visiting your town’s sheriff or court website.

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