There may come a time in your life where you think there might be a warrant out for your arrest. Maybe there was a domestic dispute, in which the police decided to establish probable cause for an arrest and issue an arrest warrant. Or maybe, you were called by a Government investigator that's fishing around for information in the hopes to gain enough evidence to justify a warrant.
Regardless of why you suspect there is an active warrant for your arrest, there are a few ways you can confirm whether your suspicions are true or not. Before we jump into the different tools and resources available to help, it's important to fully understand what a warrant is and the different types of warrants that exist.
Top Sites To Check Your Warrant Status:
Related Read: Best Background Check Sites & Services
What Are The Different Types of Warrants?
Every warrant will require probable cause and judge approval. Depending on the type of warrant filed with the court, law enforcement will then have the authority to follow through with the intent of the document.
The list below outlines the different types of warrants and what they mean.
An arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement officials to arrest and detain an individual. It must be signed by a judge who has determined there is probable cause for the arrest. Probable cause usually comes from evidence in the form of sworn testimony or a written statement that's under oath. The arrest warrant needs to list - the person's first and last name, date of birth, the criminal offense they are accused of, the probable cause used to obtain the warrant, and a signature from the judge.
Arrest warrants aren't necessarily required to make an arrest, but if the police officer personally witnessed the crime or has evidence that the individual has committed the said crime, they can request an arrest warrant from a judge. Once the warrant is approved, the police officer can carry out the arrest and detainment of the suspect in question.
A bench warrant, also referred to as a judge or court warrant is issued against an individual who has - a missed court date, is held in contempt of court, fails to follow court orders, or has failed to pay a ticket or fine. A judge will do this when they believe the person has intentionally avoided the court, i.e. a missed court date or court appearance. This type of warrant is not based on a suspected crime, but it still authorizes law enforcement to arrest if necessary.
Child Support Warrant
An individual with a child support warrant has not committed a crime, but rather, missed a court appearance in a child support hearing. Still, this type of warrant authorizes the police to arrest or detain the suspect.
This type of warrant is issued to an individual who has failed to appear as a witness under subpoena. A subpoena, also known as a witness summons, is a written document issued by a government agency, usually a court, to compel testimony from a witness. It authorizes an arrest and a penalty for failure to comply.
A surety warrant is a type of arrest warrant that's issued when a surety cancels the individual's bail. A surety is a person that assumes the responsibility of paying the bail amount or debt owed to the courthouse. The surety can cancel the bail payment at any time they please. If so, it gives the police the power to make an arrest.
A search warrant is a court-issued document authorizing law enforcement to search a specific place for evidence without the occupant's consent. The details of a search warrant will vary depending on the state where it's enforced. Law enforcement must present the court with evidence that a search is justified. Then, the court determines whether probable cause exists for the warrant search. This type of warrant typically has an expiration date and can only be carried out during certain hours of the day.
Does an active warrant come up on a background check?
Background checks are mainly used by the police, government agencies, private companies, or for personal reasons. Mainly for the intention of finding personal information on the individual. If a warrant has been issued, you may be wondering whether or not it shows up on a background check. Unfortunately, the answer isn't so black and white. It all depends on the type of search conducted, how thorough it is, and the level of access the person performing the search has. Keep in mind - warrants usually show up in criminal records and court documents, which are usually given in a background check report.
Here's some more information on the topic:
How to find out if you have an active arrest warrant
If you are trying to check whether there is an active warrant out for your arrest, there are a number of ways to find out.
Step #1: Check Government Websites
Most of the time, government websites will have this kind of information on public record. Try looking for the official websites, ending in .gov, and use the search function to access the list of active warrants in the area. Most of the information issued by local and state governments is pretty much up-to-date, accurate, and free. If nothing turns up, check the sheriff's office website in the county where the warrant was issued. If there's any information regarding a warrant, it should be made available on sites like these.
Unfortunately, some counties don't have everything posted online. For cases like that, you could try calling the local county clerk to see if there is a warrant out under a specific name or address. This approach is best if you're questioning a warrant for someone else and not yourself. Calling the source directly could reveal your identity. If the potential warrant is for you, consider having a family member, friend, or lawyer call on your behalf.
When calling the clerk of the court will likely ask for the following:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Court case number
If you're running into roadblocks on the county level, you can reach out to state officials or check the superior court records in your state. For this route, you will likely need to provide the full name, birthdate, state ID number, and court case number. However, if the warrant is issued for a federal case, your search options will be quite limited. Generally, this type of warrant information is taken much more seriously, and therefore will not be available online or via a public record database.
Step #2: Search Engine Check
You could also try to search online for outstanding warrants, but much of what's found could be pretty surface-level. Unless you're willing to put in some serious hours of extensive research, you might be circling the internet aimlessly. Plus, you may not have full access to certain sites like law enforcement agencies and professional background check companies do.
Step #3: Use a Professional Background Check Website
One of the easiest and fastest ways to determine if you have an arrest warrant is through a third-party background check site. A professional website like this will use public records to compile a report on the searched individual, including any outstanding warrant information along with other personal details.
If that information hasn't been made public, the website will have some difficulty finding the arrest warrant. For the most part, however, this type of info will show up on a background check.
Here are some of the best background check sites for an arrest warrant search:
Instant CheckMate is a well-trusted and commonly-used background check site. You can use this website to check for warrants - including arrest warrants, bench warrants, search warrants, and more. You will also get exclusive access to the extensive information found in public records and online. This level of detail will help you find warrant information on yourself or someone else.
If you're just at the starting line of your arrest warrant search, try specifying the first and last name, local state, and local county or city. Instant CheckMate will then begin to search and sort through various public record resources - such as court records, financial records, criminal records, and more.
If there's an outstanding arrest warrant in these records, Instant CheckMate will find it and include that information in your report. The best area to search for arrest warrants is in the criminal record section of the site that looks for certain criminal and court details.Pros:
- Easy-to-navigate user interface
- Thorough arrest warrant search
- Slow loading times
Next up we have Intelius, another helpful tool to try for your arrest warrant search. This site can reveal valuable criminal record information, including an outstanding warrant of any kind. You can search for potential arrest warrants through their background check feature.
In addition to many other personal details, this background check site will inform you of any warrants issued for your arrest. You can start your search with just the name and location. Based on those details, Intelius will sort through public records and develop an extensive report containing all significant information found.Pros:
- Affordable subscriptions
- Reports include warrant records
- Some negative customer reviews on report accuracy
Truthfinder is another great service to find out if your active arrest warrant. It’s one of the most accurate and useful background check services available online. The site can conduct a comprehensive background check with only basic information provided, like the full name or phone number. However, it's important to note that the more info is given, the more extensive the report will be.
This site offers a wide variety of search parameters. You can either get a general report or you can use the criminal record feature to get a report that focuses on criminal and court records specifically. Both will look for warrant information and if there's anything issued for your arrest.Pros:
- Mobile app available for iOs and Android devices
- Extensive search filters
- Accurate and detailed information included in each report
- No free membership or trial period offered
- Cannot purchase individual reports
- Gimmicky headlines
Outstanding Warrant Versus Active Warrant
An outstanding warrant is a legally valid arrest warrant that was created months or even years ago. Even though it has not yet been fulfilled, outstanding warrants are considered to be active and can still be used to make an arrest.
A warrant may be outstanding because:
- The person is unaware of the initial arrest warrant
- The individual may be avoiding an arrest
- The warrant has not been served by law enforcement yet
An arrest warrant remains active until the arrest is made. Unlike search warrants, arrest warrants do not expire and will continue to be valid even if a significant amount of time has passed since it was first issued. That's why it's important to find out whether you have an outstanding warrant and to take care of it immediately.
Any kind of arrest warrant search is bound to be stressful, especially if it's for yourself or a loved one. You can begin by researching on various search engines, like Google or Bing. If nothing comes up, head over to the local state or county websites. Most will have the option to search through court records for any past crimes or court cases. For something more comprehensive that takes all online public records into account, try a background check site. Most require a payment, but the information provided could be well worth the fee.
If any arrest warrants are confirmed, it's best to seek professional legal advice from a lawyer or attorney. Lawyers can assess the situation better than anyone else and properly guide you through the process.