Sometimes, it’s easy to tell if law enforcement has a warrant for a person's arrest. The proper authorities find and arrest the individual. In other, rarer cases, the court may send a letter to the person in question or an appropriate attorney instead. However, finding out if a warrant is out for someone's arrest is not always so simple.
Anyone who believes that law enforcement may suspect them of a crime should conduct a federal warrant search. These searches allow people to determine whether a judge has issued a warrant for arrest. It’s important to search the appropriate court documents and approach a federal warrant lookup with care.
What Is a Federal Warrant?
When law enforcement officers can prove that a crime was committed in their jurisdiction and they have probable cause that a particular person committed the crime, they can ask an appropriate judge for a warrant. If the judge grants the warrant, the law enforcement agency has legal permission to arrest the subject of the warrant.
Federal arrest warrants allow law enforcement to arrest someone for a federal crime. These are crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the United States government, rather than the state or local authorities. Examples of federal crimes include:
- Any crime in which a federal officer is a victim or perpetrator.
- Crimes involving customs, including international drug trafficking.
- Any crime that is committed on federal land, such as a national park or military base.
- Any crime in which the perpetrator of a criminal act crossed from one state into another.
- Immigration violations.
- Crimes involving federal tax codes.
Many violent crimes fall under state jurisdiction, including murder and robbery. Anyone who believes they have committed a state crime should check for warrants in those jurisdictions as well.
Conducting a Federal Warrant Search
The most direct way to do a federal warrant search is to contact the federal court that issued the warrant. First, the person conducting the search must determine which of the federal government’s district courts may have handled the case. District courts are divided based on location, and people can search these courts on the United States Courts website.
Once someone finds the appropriate federal district court, they should visit the court’s website. Some courts have online search functions, while others give warrant information over the phone. Some district courts only discuss outstanding warrants in person. Anyone conducting a federal warrant lookup should follow the specific court’s preferred method of contact.
Read More: Legal Definition of a Stale Search Warrant
Search Through a Third Party
Sometimes it’s not clear which federal court has handled a specific case, or it may be difficult to find information through a particular court. Instead, someone who is conducting a federal warrant search can use a third-party search website such as GovernmentRegistry.org. This nonprofit searches many government databases.
People can also contact additional resources that are not available to the general public. For example, a local bail bond agent or attorney often can see records that others are not allowed to access. An attorney also can provide legal advice if something comes up during the search.
What to Do If There Is a Warrant
Sometimes, people conduct a federal warrant search and find that law enforcement is looking for them. In this case, it’s important to act immediately. The wanted person should surrender to the proper authorities as soon as possible. The proper authority is the agency that has jurisdiction over the crime and should be listed on the warrant.
Before surrendering, the wanted person may consider contacting an attorney. A lawyer can help people charged with a crime navigate the surrender process and fight the charges. The defense may be against the way the warrant was issued or regarding the crime itself.
- Criminal Defense Lawyer: State Crimes vs. Federal Crimes
- Wallin and Klarich: What is a Federal Warrant and How Does It Work?
- Us Courts: Court Website Links
- The Law Dictionary: Best Way to Run a Free Arrest Warrant Check
- How Stuff Works: How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant
- Hamilton Grant: Federal Arrest Warrants
- If you have an active federal warrant, immediately turn yourself in by visiting the courthouse or a local police station.
- Do not allow a friend or relative to impersonate you when checking on a federal warrant, as this may result in the wrong person being apprehended and possible legal ramifications.
Mackenzie Maxwell has always been interested in law, working with legal issues since 2010. She served in Congress for some time, as part of the communications team for Silvestre Reyes and helped constituents understand the laws on the House floor. She stayed active in local politics to understand the laws that govern her area. As a writer, Mackenzie has worked with several lawyers to create thoughtful, helpful content.