Even though you may think that people know when they have warrants out for their arrest, this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of situations where people are oblivious to it. Fortunately, if you’ve ever wondered “do I have a warrant for my arrest,” you have several options available to look it up and check.
If it’s not you that you’re interested in running the arrest warrant check on but another person, the same methods can also help you find out if someone has a warrant. Here’s how to check for warrants depending on how much information you have.
If You Know the Person’s Location
Good news if you know which area the person lives – this will make searching for any warrants easier and give you more options. Whether it’s a bench warrant or another type of warrant, arrest warrants are typically public records, which means you can track them down by searching the records of the area where the warrant would be issued.
Keep in mind that although you can look up warrants at the state, county and local levels, you can’t look up federal warrants this way. If you suspect the warrant may be related to a federal crime, then you will need to contact the federal court clerk.
Here are a few ways to look up warrants when you know the person’s location.
- Government Sites
Just about every state, county and major city has a crime database online that you can use to search for warrants and other information in the public record. The simplest way to find this will typically be to search for the name of the area and the words “arrest warrants” or “wanted persons.”
Since every government site will have its own format, it’s impossible to explain how to use all of them, but fortunately, they’re all straightforward enough and easy to figure out. They usually allow searches using first and last names. They will also usually provide optional fields where you can enter more information about the person you’re trying to look up, such as:
• Date of birth
This can be helpful if the person has a very common first and last name that would otherwise return far too many results.
Since these search methods are the quickest and easiest, you may want to try searching the sites for multiple areas around where the person you’re looking up lives. It’s usually tough to be sure if a person has a warrant issued by the county or their local police department, unless you’re familiar with the circumstances of the case.
What if an area doesn’t have an online warrant search? In that case, you’ll need to get in touch with the police department.
- Calling the Court Clerk
If you have an idea of what court is handling the case, you can call the court clerk for warrant information. Look up the court online to get its phone number and normal operating hours.
This is what you would need to do with federal offenses, but you can also try it for other types of offenses. You’ll need to give the court clerk the name of the person you’re looking up and potentially their date of birth. The case number also helps, should you have that.
There are a few situations where the court clerk probably can’t provide much case information, including cases involving:
• Domestic violence
The court attempts to protect people’s privacy in certain situations, but you can usually still at least get information on outstanding warrants.
If You Don’t Know the Person’s Location
It’s a bit trickier if you don’t know where you’re looking for the arrest warrant, but you still have options available. Here are two to try.
- The National Crime Information Center
Since the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has a massive database of criminal justice information and records at every level, it’s an excellent resource when looking for arrest warrants, even if all you have is a name.
You can reach the operator by dialing the NCIC’s number, which is 304-625-2000, between its phone hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Provide the operator with the name of the person you want to perform a warrant search for and they’ll see if they can find anything.
- Third-Party Arrest Warrant Check Websites
With a quick search, you can find plenty of third-party sites that can perform arrest warrant searches for you. Some of these require a location, but others do not. Although it’s common for these sites to charge fees, there are also free options out there.
These types of sites can be hit or miss, and you typically won’t get as much information as you would have if you looked up an arrest warrant through a government website. However, some of these third-party sites work very well, and even if the information is limited, you may be able to use them to figure out what court issued a person’s arrest warrant. After that, you can go to the crime database for that area to pull up more information on the person’s case.
Using the Information You Find
There will typically be information accompanying a warrant when you pull it up online, such as:
• What the person was charged with
• Whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor
• The date the warrant was issued
• If bail is allowed
• How much bail is set at
If you performed an arrest warrant search on yourself to see if you had any outstanding warrants, the details can give you more information about your situation. If you searched for another person that you wanted more information on, the details of the warrant can shed light on what that person is accused of.
Either way, running a search for warrants can reveal useful information, and it’s good to know how to look up warrants when necessary.