Depending on the warrant type and the jurisdiction, you can generally see if someone has a warrant by conducting a free search on a court or law enforcement agency's official website. Should the jurisdiction not offer an online database for searching warrants, you may be able to call the court clerk or law enforcement agency, or you could pay a third-party commercial website to run a search.
Online Lookup at Local and State Levels
City, county and state law enforcement agencies and courts update their online databases frequently, making these government websites an effective and accurate way to find out if someone you know has a warrant. You may have to search multiple agency and court websites to find the information you want. You can begin with local law enforcement, such as sheriff and police department websites, in the jurisdiction where the subject of your search currently resides. You might also check law enforcement and court websites where the person previously lived, if known. Work your way up to state and federal levels for a more comprehensive search.
Searching at the state level can be more difficult than finding warrants at the local level. The state department of justice, state attorney or other statewide public safety entity may offer online lookup tools, but the agency might also restrict its data, making criminal history data, including warrants, available only to law enforcement officials. The agency might restrict access to third parties altogether or require you to obtain a signed waiver from the subject of your search to access warrant records.
For example, the California Department of Justice allows you to order a record of your own criminal background, but not another individual's record, online. In Florida, you can see if someone you know has an arrest warrant, free of charge, on the Department of Corrections website. In Iowa, you must pay $15 and obtain a waiver to get someone's warrant history from the state's Department of Public Safety. Results vary by state, type of warrant and offense, as some records, such as those involving restraining orders, are heavily restricted.
Inquiring Over the Phone
Law enforcement agencies and courts vary in how they communicate warrant information to the public via telephone. According to Black's Law Dictionary, you should be able to call local law enforcement and ask. You can also call the court clerk and provide a name and date of birth to obtain information on warrants issued for criminal cases.
Searching Through Third-Party Websites
Commercial or free websites from third-party vendors and organizations can provide information for free or for a fee. For example, TruthFinder, a subscription-based company, provides a warrant lookup tool that covers all states via DMV.org. GovernmentRegistry.org, a website not affiliated with the U.S. government, provides a free search of federal warrants and also sells memberships for multiple levels of access to criminal history checks.
- The Law Dictionary: Best Way to Run a Free Arrest Warrant Check
- USA Today: For a Million Fugitives, Freedom Starts at County Line
- State of California Department of Justice: Online Request Form
- Iowa Department of Public Safety: Iowa Criminal History Record Checks
- FreeAdvice Legal: How Do I Find Out if I Have an Outstanding Warrant?