The Warrant Worry: A Guide to Discovering and Addressing Outstanding Warrants

If you’re concerned that the authorities have issued a warrant for your arrest, you can find out by searching the local records website for your county court or sheriff’s department. However, depending on resources and budget, not all locations maintain an up-to-date online database. If you’re investigating whether or not you have an outstanding federal warrant, contact your district’s federal court.

Another easy option is to use a background checks search site. These combine public records, social media, and other freely available information to compile easy-to-read background checks, including criminal history.

If you want to be certain, hire an attorney. Lawyers have access to databases outside the reach of the average citizen. They can find any outstanding warrants, help you navigate the legal system afterward, and even remove it from your record.

What Type of Warrants Are There?

Although there are many types of warrants, most people are only concerned with two: arrest warrants and bench warrants. The others, such as search warrants, execution warrants, and possessory warrants, apply in different legal scenarios.

Arrest Warrants

A judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant after criminal activity has occurred. Once it’s issued, the police can look for and arrest you. If you suspect that there’s a warrant out for your arrest, contact an attorney to review your legal options. A lawyer can help you request bail, turn yourself in safely, and negotiate deals that reduce your time in police custody.

Arrest warrants do not give the police the legal right to search your home or belongings. For the police to do so, a judge must grant them a search warrant specifying what they’re searching for and where.

Bench Warrants

A judge may issue a bench warrant for infractions such as failing to appear in court, paying child support, or other similar violations. Although the police will not come after you for bench warrants, they may take you to jail if they have to pull you over and find something on your record.

It is very common for people to be unaware that bench warrants are issued for them.

Do Warrants Appear on Background Checks?

Background checks contain your criminal history, including felonies and misdemeanors in other states. However, standard background checks don’t typically show open bench or arrest warrants.

Once an arrest warrant has been executed and you’ve been taken into police custody, it may appear on your background check. The best way to know if this applies is to run your check on yourself.

Responding to a Warrant That Appears On Your Background Check

Once you discover an outstanding warrant, it’s important to confront it and prevent the situation from escalating.

  • Do not ignore the warrant. Arrest warrants do not expire.
  • Do not run away. Travel hubs have lists of people with active warrants against them.
  • Do not go to the police station. Hire a lawyer to understand your options.

Above all, do not assume the worst. Although it can be stressful and frightening to discover that the police have an arrest warrant against you, you may be able to avoid jail time and pay a fine instead.

An attorney can help you minimize your penalties, negotiate your surrender and bail amount, and may even be able to arrange for a quick arraignment instead of entering police custody.

Removing a Warrant That Appears On Your Background Check

You can easily remove a bench warrant by appearing in court, sending an attorney, or paying the associated fine. Bench warrants do not expire until they’re cleared or until you die. Although you may prefer to choose to ignore it, police can arrest you at any time for a bench warrant, even across state lines.

An arrest warrant works differently. Some arrest warrants are issued for outstanding payments; these can be cleared by paying a fine. However, it cannot be cleared if an arrest warrant was issued concerning an ongoing criminal investigation.

Finding Out If There’s a Warrant On Your Record

Warrants do not go away on their own. The best way to handle them is to address them directly, handle the consequences, and work with a lawyer to remove them from your record if possible. In this case, the more information you have, the better.

Start by running a background check on yourself to find out what appears to employers, then contact your local sheriff’s department or county clerk to ensure no arrest or bench warrants are hidden in your profile.