In the state of New York, an individual can get information about an arrest warrant by contacting the information line of the criminal court where the warrant arose or the law enforcement office that oversaw the arrest. If an individual goes in person to check on a warrant, they must bring a valid ID.
Law enforcement agencies are typically open Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. If a police department or sheriff’s office turns up a warrant for a person’s arrest, that person may turn themselves in to their local police station.
Warrants Don’t Expire
Arrest warrants and bench warrants do not have expiration dates. A bench warrant is a warrant that a judge issues during a court proceeding, typically for a party’s failure to appear when summoned or to pay a fine. The court will clear a warrant only if the defendant appears before a judge in the court that issued the warrant or if the defendant dies.
In order to clear or vacate a warrant with a judge, the defendant must go to the central clerk’s office in the county where their case is being heard. The defendant must have their full name and date of birth, or the date of arrest or the docket number for their case.
Most Active Warrant Records Are Not Online
An individual cannot do a New York warrant search online. Arrest warrants are not public records in the sense that a person can search for them using their name and date of birth. The exception is some law enforcement offices have websites on which they post a list of featured arrest warrants.
Vacating a New York Arrest Warrant
A defendant may request to voluntarily vacate a warrant by submitting an Application to Vacate District Court Warrant (form DC-320-A). This form is specific to the county in which the defendant was charged, so there will be a different link to the application for each New York county.
The defendant should submit the completed application to the public information window at the clerk’s office. There may be a time requirement, such as a deadline of before 11:00 a.m. on a regular business day. The court typically posts a list, the “warrant vacate” calendar, in the court’s waiting area.
The defendant must appear in the courtroom noted on the list to vacate the warrant. If the warrant was for a fine, the application may ask if the defendant can pay the fine and the amount of the fine.
Warrants for Town Ordinance Violations
If the warrant is for a town ordinance violation, the defendant must go to the courthouse in the appropriate outlying district court courthouse to vacate the warrant. A warrant for a town ordinance violation will be calendared, or scheduled to be heard, in an outlying courthouse. The warrant may be scheduled for county court or for a town or village court in the county.
Bail and Warrant Information
Once a court case is disposed, and the defendant has appeared at all court appearances, bail is exonerated. This means that the defendant’s obligation to pay bail no longer exists. The amount of the bail will be returned to the person who posted it, less a 3 percent fee.
The process usually takes eight weeks after the case is disposed. The county treasurer is the party that returns the bail money. If the defendant did not appear at the court date as directed, and the court issued a warrant, bail was forfeited. The defendant may be able to get the money back if the court orders the bail remitted, or returned to the person who gave it to the court.
The defendant must make a New York Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) 540.30 motion to request a remittance. The court will remit the money if it sees there is a just purpose for doing so.
Requirements for a Warrant
A warrant of arrest should contain:
- Name of the court that issued the warrant.
- Date the warrant was issued.
- Name or title of the offense charged in the warrant.
- Name of the defendant to be arrested.
- Police officer/s to whom the warrant is addressed.
- Direction that the officers arrest the defendant and bring them before the court.
If the name of the defendant is not available, the warrant should provide a description by which the defendant can be identified with reasonable uncertainty. A court may issue multiple copies of a warrant, to one or multiple classifications (types) of police officers or to one or more designated individual police officers.
Where a Warrant Is Executable
A warrant of arrest that is issued by a district court, by the New York City criminal court, by the youth part of a Superior Court or by a Superior Court judge sitting as a local criminal court may be executed anywhere in New York state. Here, the term “executed” means to act upon the warrant and arrest the individual named in it.
A warrant of arrest issued by a city court, a town court or a village court may be executed in the county in which it was issued, any adjoining county, or anywhere else in the state upon the written endorsement (authorization with the signature of the presiding judge) of a local criminal court of the county in which the arrest is to be made.
When the warrant is endorsed in this way, it is deemed to be the process of the endorsing court, the court which authorized the arrest within the county and the issuing court, the court that originally issued the warrant.
Procedure After Arrest
After a law enforcement officer has arrested a defendant, they must bring the defendant without delay before the local criminal court or youth part of the Superior Court. If the officer arrests the defendant for an offense other than a felony, they must inform the defendant that they have a right to appear before a local criminal court of the county of arrest to ask to be released on their own recognizance (ROR) or to have bail set.
If the defendant is in default of bail, meaning that they have failed to pay their bail or abide by the bail conditions set, they must appear before the judge. This typically occurs when a law enforcement officer arrests the defendant and brings them to court for a bail hearing.
Before bringing a defendant to the court, the police officer must perform all fingerprinting as required in the particular case.
Procedure for Juvenile Offenders
If an officer arrests a juvenile or an adolescent offender, the officer is required to immediately notify their parent or other person legally responsible for the minor’s care. Alternatively, the officer may notify the person with whom the minor is domiciled.
The officer must tell the parent, legal guardian or person with whom the minor is domiciled that the juvenile offender has been arrested and the location of the facility where the minor is being detained.
Access to Legal Counsel
For adult offenders, the police officer shall, upon the defendant’s request, permit the defendant to communicate by telephone provided by the law enforcement facility to a phone number located anywhere in the U.S. or Puerto Rico for the purposes of obtaining legal counsel and informing a relative or friend that they have been arrested.
The exception is if the call will compromise an ongoing investigation or the defendant’s prosecution.
- New York City: Arrest Warrant
- 10th Jurisdiction Suffolk County District Court: Criminal Court FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- NYCourts.gov: New York City Criminal Court, Frequently Asked Questions
- Erie County Sheriff's Office: Warrants
- NYCourts.gov: Criminal Records Basics
- Suffolk County District Court: Application to Vacate District Court Warrant
- New York State Senate: Criminal Procedure, Section 120.10 Warrant of Arrest; Definition, Function, Form and Content
- New York State Senate: Criminal Procedure, Section 120.70 Warrant of Arrest; Where Executable
- New York State Senate: Criminal Procedure, Section 120.90, Warrant of Arrest; Procedure After Arrest
- It is usually better to obtain this information from the police department, as it is free and more likely accurate.
- The police department will also provide information about how to clear an outstanding warrant.
- Warrants can result from anything, whether it is an unpaid traffic ticket, an ignored citation or an unexpectedly suspended driver's license.
- Lack of foreknowledge of a warrant will not protect you from arrest.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.