How to Check for a Felony Warrant

By Colleen Collins - Updated March 27, 2017
...

behind bars image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com

In criminal law, a felony is the most serious category of crime. Generally speaking, the punishment for a felony crime is incarceration in prison for more than one year or death. A court issues a felony warrant after a law enforcement officer presents the court with a sworn affidavit alleging that the defendant named in the warrant committed a felony crime. A felony warrant stays active until the defendant is apprehended. Because felony warrants are public documents, any one can look up and view information in the warrant, unless it is sealed.

Contact the sheriff's office

Some sheriff's offices provide online look-ups of active felony warrants through their websites. Others might release information about an active warrant over the phone. Others might require the request to be in person. Be prepared to provide the defendant's full name and date of birth.

Look it up in court records.

As in Step 1, you need to know in which county the criminal case took place. For example, if you know the crime took place in Los Angeles, go to the Los Angeles county court. Ask the court clerk to perform a search for active cases involving that person, cases in which the person also has a warrant. There will be a search fee, as well as copying fees. Some county courts also provide online searches for such information.

Hire a private investigator.

If you're having trouble identifying the county of the crime, or the correct spelling of the defendant's name, consider hiring a private investigator who specializes in criminal cases and court record retrieval. To find an experienced investigator, contact your state professional private investigator association.

Tip

Law enforcement officers might request the court to seal a felony warrant if it wishes, for example, to conceal information from the press or to protect sensitive information. Although you can ask a police officer if a person has an outstanding felony warrant, the police might not have the time to respond to your inquiry, whereas the sheriff's office would make time because, by law, sheriffs are responsible for caretaking people in custody or sought by warrants.

About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article