Are Arrest Warrants Public Records?

Arrest warrants are essential to be informed about. If you suspect that you have an arrest warrant or are curious about whether or not someone you know has one, you may wonder if these documents are public record.

Our article answers this question and gives you some easy ways to search for arrest warrants, putting your worries to rest and finding the information you need.

What Is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or a court system that grants law enforcement the right to take an individual suspected of a crime into custody. Without an arrest warrant or law enforcement witnessing a crime, it is against the constitution to take people into custody.

Arrest warrants are issued when a suspect must be detained to further investigate a crime or to proceed through legal prosecution efforts.

Can You Find an Arrest Warrant via Public Record?

Arrest warrants are typically public record, except in certain special circumstances. For instance, if an investigation is ongoing and law enforcement deems it necessary to keep an arrest warrant off the public record, you may not be able to access it by searching, except for attorneys, courts, or law enforcement officials.

There are also specific state regulations about arrest warrants and how the public accesses them. You will need to check with your specific state’s court system about arrest warrants and whether they are public records.

Arrest warrants that have been carried out turn into arrest records, which are generally accessed by viewing someone’s criminal history, a list of convictions, or a background check report. Arrest records may also occur when an individual is caught during a crime or law enforcement officers have probable cause to arrest the person.

Methods for Searching for an Arrest Warrant

You can proceed through the steps below if you want to search for a current or previous arrest warrant. Most states list arrest warrants on public or courthouse databases, but you will need to search your specific state’s regulations for more detailed information.

Online Public Record Search

One of the best and easiest ways to search for an arrest warrant is to search online using a public record search. These tools are designed to locate all mentions of a person on the public record of the state you search in, and because they are online, you can easily search multiple locations. Once you run a search using this tool, review the public record report for any mention of arrest warrants and criminal history.

Utilize County Records Offices

County offices are typically where records of arrest warrants are held. You will likely need to visit your county records office in person to inquire about someone’s arrest warrants, but some records offices will have an online search portal to use. Again, you will need to check with your county’s records office or courthouse website for more information on this.

It’s important to note that to ensure the best search results, you should have the complete legal name of the person you are searching for. You should also be prepared to pay a fee, as many county records offices require this to search and obtain copies of public record items.

Contact a Bail Bondsman

Bail bondsmen work with individuals who have been arrested and those wanting to bail them out. They provide money for those who cannot pay the full bail to release a person from their arrest with the condition that they will return to appear in court. More information about this process can be found here.

Bail bondsmen are a good place to check for arrest warrants. They often have access to databases that law enforcement officials and private investigators use, detailing which individuals have arrest warrants issued in their name. You can also call or go to a bail bond agent’s office to speak with them about your concerns.

Speak With an Attorney

Speaking with an attorney is a safe first step in investigating an arrest warrant, especially if you are trying to find out if one has been issued in your name. A criminal defense attorney is a good choice, and they will be able to reach out to court systems and law enforcement on your behalf, figuring out if you have an arrest warrant issued and what to do next.

Attorneys may not be able to help you find out if an arrest warrant is issued in someone else’s name unless you have the power of attorney or other guardianship powers over the individual in question. Verifying this is important by researching your state’s laws and consulting with a legal professional.

Reach Out to Law Enforcement

Reaching out to law enforcement is a good way to find out if you have an arrest warrant, but if you do, you might also be arrested on the spot. Depending on state laws and specific investigations, some law enforcement officials may be able to tell you if another individual you are concerned about has an arrest warrant in their name.

The easiest way to contact law enforcement is by calling the non-emergency police line or visiting your local police precinct in person.

What Do I Do if There Is an Arrest Warrant Issued for Me?

If an arrest warrant has been issued for you, you should first seek legal counsel. A criminal defense attorney practicing in your state will be able to advise you of your next steps, when and how to report to a police station, and guide you through the process of criminal proceedings if they are necessary.

Finding Important Arrest Warrant Information

If you suspect an arrest warrant has been issued for you or another person in your life, you may be wondering how to track down this information. Fortunately, there are plenty of search methods for you to review public records and discover if arrest warrants have been issued. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney or law enforcement official for further guidance in discovering information about arrest warrants.