Arrest warrants are public information. As such, they are always free for review at a local law enforcement agency or courthouse. To locate an arrest warrant, you need to determine the location where a warrant was issued and reach out to local agencies.
If you are looking for a list of individuals with outstanding warrants in your region versus a copy of an individual warrant, start checking local government websites. Your police department, sheriff's office and state police all obtain arrest warrants following investigations. Many departments now publish these lists online to encourage people to turn themselves in or to prompt friends and family members to provide information on their whereabouts. These lists contain basic information regarding the offender, charges and vital statistics, and are available free of charge.
Full Copies of Warrants
To obtain a full copy of a warrant, you must generally request it or visit an office where it can be reviewed, either in person or online. While police departments retain copies of all records related to an arrest, your local county clerk's office will have the most comprehensive selection of warrants on file. This is because most criminal charges from a city move to a district court versus a city court, and all sheriff's office arrests flow through the clerk's office. A clerk can provide you with a copy of the arrest warrant for review at the counter or direct you to a public computer that will provide digital access to documents.
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While actually reviewing a warrant is free, costs can sometimes be incurred on the journey. If you request a copy of the warrant, a public entity reserves the right to assess a reasonable fee for the copying service. Remote online access to a local clerk's office can also be hidden behind a pay wall depending on your home county. If the cost of the service exceeds the value it will provide, consider scheduling an in-person visit to save funds.
Freedom of Information Act Requests
Should your local clerk's office or sheriff's office tell you warrants are not available, file a Freedom of Information Act request for the document. Unless a warrant contains sensitive information regarding an ongoing investigation, relates to a juvenile's arrest or contains information on a confidential informant, it should be available for public review.
Ashley Adams-Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and has covered personal finance, career and small business topics since 2009. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter and holds a BSBA in accounting from Columbia College. Her work has appeared online with USA Today, The Nest, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance.