Updated on
Jul, 04 2024
Anatoliy Yarovyi
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How to Check if You Have a Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to take a person into custody. If you’re concerned that a warrant may have been issued for your arrest, it’s natural to feel anxious and uncertain. However, you don’t have to remain in the dark about your legal status. There are several ways to check if you have a warrant, allowing you to address the situation proactively rather than being caught off guard.

What is an Arrest Warrant?

Warrant for Arrest

An arrest warrant is a formal legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement to detain an individual suspected of committing a crime. The issuance of an arrest warrant requires probable cause, meaning there must be sufficient evidence to believe that the person named in the warrant has engaged in unlawful activity.

Sometimes an arrest warrant may be referred to as an outstanding warrant. Outstanding warrant is a legal order that has been issued by a judge but has not yet been executed by law enforcement. This means that the individual named in the warrant has not been apprehended or has failed to comply with the conditions set forth in the warrant. 

Risks of Arrest Warrant

Neglecting an arrest warrant can lead to severe and far-reaching consequences:

  • immigration issues: an outstanding warrant can significantly hinder visa applications, residency status, and other immigration processes. It may result in detention or deportation;
  • employment barriers: many employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring process; 
  • arrest and legal repercussions: ignoring an arrest warrant increases the risk of being arrested at any time, which can occur during routine traffic stops or other encounters with law enforcement. 

How to Check if I Have a Warrant for my Arrest?

Discovering that you may have an outstanding warrant for your arrest can be an unsettling experience. Whether it’s due to a missed court date, unpaid fines, or it was issued mistakenly, an arrest warrant is a serious legal matter that requires prompt attention. So, how to check for an arrest warrant? Fortunately, there are several methods available to make a warrant check:

Check on websites

Some countries and jurisdictions (like the US) publish warrant information on official websites, so they should be checked as a first step. Here are some options:

  • Local court websites: many counties and states in the U.S. have searchable databases.
  • State-level judicial websites: some states maintain centralized warrant databases.
  • Federal court system: the PACER system allows searches for federal warrants.

If official sources don’t provide the information, you can try third-party services:

  1. LexisNexis: offers comprehensive background checks, including warrant information.
  2. World Check: provides global risk intelligence, including criminal record checks.
  3. Interpol: maintains a database of Red Notices for internationally wanted persons.
  4. BeenVerified: offers background checks that may include warrant information.
  5. TruthFinder: provides criminal record searches that can reveal warrants.

Make Police Inquiry

One way to check for an outstanding warrant is to contact your local police department directly. Visit the police station in person, as this information is typically not provided over the phone. Bring valid photo identification, as you’ll need to confirm your identity. Be aware that if a warrant exists, you may be arrested on the spot. The police can provide details about any warrants, including the reason for issuance and bail amount. However, this approach carries risks, so proceed with caution.

Call to the Court Clerk

Another option is to contact the clerk’s office at your local courthouse. While they may not give warrant information over the phone, you can visit in person with photo identification. The court clerk can search their records for any outstanding warrants in your name. They may charge a small fee for this service. If a warrant is found, the clerk will likely notify law enforcement, which could lead to your immediate arrest. 

Arrest Warrant

Hire a Lawyer

Engaging a criminal defense attorney is often the safest and most effective way to make the warrant check. A lawyer can discreetly inquire about your status without putting you at immediate risk of arrest. If a warrant exists, your attorney can negotiate the terms of your surrender, potentially arranging for a voluntary appearance in court rather than an arrest. They can also begin preparing your defense, negotiate with prosecutors to minimize the impact on your life. 

How do I check if there is an arrest warrant in the UK?

Some people may ask how to check for a warrant in the UK. In the United Kingdom, information about arrest warrants is generally not publicly accessible. Unlike some other countries, the UK does not maintain public databases or websites where individuals can freely check their warrant status. This approach is rooted in privacy considerations and the principle that such information should be handled with discretion by law enforcement agencies.

Given the private nature of this information, there are limited options for checking if you have an outstanding warrant in the UK:

  1. If you are not sure how to check for an arrest warrant – the most advisable course of action is to consult with a criminal defense solicitor. Legal professionals have the expertise and proper channels to discreetly inquire about potential warrants on your behalf. They can:Make appropriate inquiries with relevant authorities
  2. You can also make the police inquiry. While it’s possible to contact the police directly, this approach carries risks. If you visit a police station to inquire about a warrant, you may be arrested on the spot if one exists. Therefore, this method is not recommended without legal representation.

What Should I Do if I Have an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant should not be ignored, as it will not disappear on its own. If you discover that there is a warrant out for your arrest, the best course of action is to address it promptly and strategically.

  1. Hire a Lawyer: the first and most important step is to hire an experienced attorney. A lawyer can provide you with legal advice, explain your rights, and help you understand the charges against you. They will draw up a plan of action tailored to your specific situation.
  2. Plan of Action: your attorney will work with you to develop a strategy for addressing the warrant. This may include negotiating terms of surrender, arranging for bail, and preparing your defense. 
  3. Turn Yourself In: with your lawyer’s guidance, arrange to turn yourself in to the police. This step is crucial because it demonstrates your willingness to comply with the legal process. Voluntarily surrendering can also improve your standing with the court, potentially leading to more favorable conditions during your legal proceedings.
  4. Prepare for Court: after turning yourself in, you will likely need to attend a court hearing. Your lawyer will help you prepare for this, ensuring that you understand the process and what to expect. They will also represent you in court, advocating on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

Ignoring an arrest warrant can lead to severe consequences, including unexpected arrest and additional legal complications. By taking proactive steps with the help of a legal professional, you can address the warrant more effectively.

Other Types of Warrants

A search warrant grants police the authority to search a specific location for evidence related to a crime. This type of warrant must be issued by a judge or magistrate and must specify the place to be searched and the items to be seized. The purpose of a search warrant is to ensure that law enforcement conducts searches in a legal and controlled manner, protecting individuals’ rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Without a search warrant, any evidence obtained may be considered inadmissible in court.

A bench warrant is issued by a judge when an individual fails to appear in court as required. This type of warrant authorizes law enforcement to immediately arrest the individual. Bench warrants are typically issued in cases of contempt of court, failure to comply with court orders, or missing a scheduled court appearance. 

It’s time to call a lawyer

Our clients always ask “How to check if I have a warrant”. So, if you have concerns about an arrest warrant — whether you want to check if one exists or you are certain that it has been issued — our Interpol Law Firm can assist you. Our experienced legal team specializes in handling matters like warrant check and can provide the guidance and support you need. We check for any outstanding warrants on your behalf, ensuring your privacy and minimizing the risk of immediate arrest. If a warrant is found, our lawyer can organize your surrender in a controlled manner and negotiate the terms of your case, potentially reducing the severity of the consequences.

Don’t navigate this complex legal issue alone. Email us to resolve your concerns and protect your rights. Our team is here to help you through every step of the process.

Anatoly Yarovyi
Anatoly Yarovyi
Anatoly Yarovyi is a seasoned and accomplished lawyer with 20 years of professional experience. He now specializes in Interpol and extradition cases, as well as consulting high-profile individuals on matters related to personal and business security, data protection, and freedom of movement.
He has a strong academic background, including a Master of Law from Lviv University (2004) and an LLM from Stanford University (2013).
He successfully represents clients in the European Court of Human Rights and was one of 15 candidates for the position of Judge at the ECHR in 2021.
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