How to Search For Active Arrest Warrants

By KC Hernandez ; Updated April 26, 2017

You can search for outstanding warrants via search tools on government websites or by calling a government office. City, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as courts, maintain up-to-date warrant information that you can search anonymously and for free. If searching for someone else's warrants, or searching for your own but willing to risk arrest, you can call a law enforcement agency or the clerk of court.

Where's the Warrant?

Start in the jurisdiction where the warrant was granted by a judge. States divide their court systems into circuits that are usually numbered. These are where criminal cases are heard. If you have a civil case, the summons you received from the court clerk should indicate which court is handling your case, and any related outstanding warrants would be there.

Searching Warrant Websites

Sheriff's departments, police departments and courts may provide searchable databases on their websites to locate outstanding warrant information. Warrants related to divorce cases, juvenile delinquency and domestic violence – all of which may involve protective or restraining orders – may be restricted from public viewing and, therefore, unavailable online. Consider using a bail bond company or an attorney in such cases.

Law enforcement and court websites typically end in ".gov" and are the most reliable for finding warrants, according to Black's Law Dictionary. Depending on the website, you can generally search a database in one of two ways: by inputting a full name and date of birth or by searching through all the warrants listed by region.

Calling Can Get Tricky

Placing a call to a law enforcement agency or court clerk to inquire about your own outstanding warrants may lead to your arrest. Investigators can trace calls back to residences, places of work and cellphones to identify your whereabouts. In a civil or criminal case, you can ask for warrants for a particular name, without identifying yourself as the person for whom the warrant was issued. Have as much of the following information as possible ready for the officer or clerk:

  • Case number
  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number

Looking Up the Charges

You might have trouble understanding the legalese associated with outstanding warrants once you find them. Government databases typically don't write the information about charges in layperson's terms. To know the meaning of a charge, you may have to perform additional research, such as looking up the name of a charge on the state's legislative website or consulting a professional for legal advice.

About the Author

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.