A warrant for arrest is a document that gives authorization to an agent of the city, county or state to secure an individual and commit him under custody. In some cases, the warrant might be for search or seizure of a possession or property. In any case, a warrant is usually delivered to the sheriff in a certain jurisdiction, and this gives him permission to detain an individual pending further due process. Oftentimes, a warrant is issued by a judge if there is reason to believe that a person has been involved in a crime, although this does not prove one is guilty.
Some counties or cities have online look-up services in which you can search pending warrants. This lets you access information quickly and discreetly. However, in most cases, you will have to do this by coordinating with the agencies involved.
- First, determine the source of the warrant. Who issued the warrant? Where was it issued?
- Find the number of the local jail where the warrant is to be served. Alternatively, you can call the sheriff directly.
- When you call, state your purpose. Tell the sheriff or the county jail the name of the person you are cross-checking. Be sure to have on hand the person’s full name, known aliases, and social security number, if available. If the case number is available, you can also give this information to the sheriff.
- Ask about warrants that are still “pending,” to differentiate your request from those warrants that have already been executed. In the case of executed warrants, the person in question has already been arrested and placed under custody.
- Before asking these questions, you can also check with your local authorities if they have an online search facility. This lets you do your search more discreetly.
Checking for pending warrants is useful in a variety of circumstances. For example, you are a landlord and you are considering applicants for an apartment, you can do a background check on prospective lessees. This can also be used if you are hiring people for your company, or looking to partner with fellow entrepreneurs. Even if checking for an arrest warrant might be extreme, it’s a good safeguard against any potential dangers.
If you discover that someone you know has a pending warrant for arrest, it’s best to talk to the person first, if he is already a personal acquaintance or friend. Ask him about the circumstances of the warrant. Offer help, if you can. Your friend is presumed innocent until found guilty, and there are a lot of cases where people are suspected of crimes because of circumstance and misunderstandings. The best recourse here is to seek legal help and advice, so that your friend knows his options.
If the person is someone you do not know—such as an applicant for a lease, or a prospective employee—you might be better off contacting the authorities, especially if the pending warrant is for a crime or activity that is violent in nature. You are just protecting your interests. Telling the person that you have done research and found out about a pending warrant might provoke aggression on his part.