Outstanding warrants how do I find out if I have any?
Recently on our legal site a user asked, “I think I might have an outstanding warrant for my arrest. I am wondering how I can find out for sure without getting hauled off to jail? Who should I call to?”
What is an arrest warrant?
If there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest this means that a judge has signed an official document, referred to as an arrest warrant, for your arrest. The outstanding warrant could have been obtained after a police officer submitted a request to the judge establishing probable cause that you committed a crime. An outstanding warrant, referred to as a bench warrant, could also have been issued by a judge if you were supposed to appear in court for a previous charge and you failed to appear.
Who should you call to find out information about your outstanding warrant?
To determine whether or not you have an outstanding warrant you can take several steps:
- Call the court clerk in the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued. Although they may not be willing to give this information to you over the phone, they may. Be ready to provide your name, birthdate, case number, and your Social Security Number. Keep in mind, depending on the crime committed and your age, the case may not be public record and the information will not be provided over the phone.
- Determine whether the court has a public electronic system to access the records. Although not all courts or cases will be available via an electronic system, some bench warrant information may be available.
- Conduct an outstanding warrant search through a third party website. If your county does not provide a free online warrant search another option is to pay for a third party warrant search. To perform this search you will have to provide certain types of personal data including your full name, city, state, and your approximate age.
- Talk to the police department in your jurisdiction. Another way to determine whether you have an outstanding warrant is to call the police department. Unfortunately, many police departments will not give you the information over the phone and will require you to come in. If you decide to go to the police and there is a warrant, however, you should expect to be taken into custody.
- Call a criminal defense lawyer. Finally, if you believe there definitely is a warrant for your arrest it is probably best to simply call a criminal defense lawyer. Not only can a criminal defense lawyer contact the police and find out the information about your bail or bond, they can also help negotiate a surrender and construct the best defense possible.
Keep in mind, in some of these situations it might be best to have another party conduct the search for you, especially if your goal is to avoid an immediate arrest.
What if I did not commit the crime but there is an outstanding warrant?
Your question is a common one. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for someone who is not guilty to be arrested and charged with a crime. With this in mind, it’s very important to understand your rights. Specifically, that you are innocent until proven guilty, you have the right to remain silent, you have a right to stand trial before a jury of your peers, and you have the right to hire a criminal defense lawyer (or have one appointed to you).
There are several methods that can be used to find out information about an outstanding warrant that will not involve walking straight into a police department and running the risk that you might be immediately arrested for a crime.
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