Movies and TV shows give us the idea that warrants are a tool that benefits law enforcement officers. But in reality, warrants were created to protect citizens and uphold their Fourth Amendment rights.
To further elaborate, if warrants didn’t exist, any police officer could arrest a citizen or search their private property whenever their suspicion is aroused. But thankfully, that’s not the case.
For an officer to receive an arrest warrant, they need to gather solid evidence against you to convince a neutral judge of your guilt. And only then can the judge issue an arrest warrant against you.
However, once the warrant is issued, do you get notified? Or do you suddenly find yourself getting arrested while walking down the street? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.
At a Glance
Most times, when a warrant is issued against someone, law enforcement won’t notify them since that can cause them to feel rattled and flee once they know the police are coming to arrest them.
They might also hide any essential evidence in the case of a search warrant.
Do You Get Informed When You Have a Warrant?
As soon as the judge signs the paperwork and issues a serious warrant like an arrest, bench, or search warrant, the police are notified. Also, your name gets added to the law enforcement’s warrant database.
However, more often than not, the person whom the warrant was issued against doesn’t get notified that they’re wanted.
Why The Police Don’t Inform You of a Warrant
If you look at the situation from the law enforcement’s perspective, you’ll find it easy to understand why they don’t inform people with arrest and search warrants. It’s very likely that if someone were proven guilty of a crime and found out they had an arrest warrant, they’d flee before the police could apprehend them.
On the other hand, if a person involved with drug distribution was notified of their search warrant, they would most likely hide the evidence or get rid of it completely.
So, in general, it’s not in law enforcement’s best interests to notify their suspects once they have warrants on them.
However, let’s talk about bench warrants, which judges issue in cases of failure to appear. So if you had a court date and didn’t attend, it automatically means that a bench warrant will be issued against you, and you’ll get arrested at your next encounter with law enforcement.
How to Find Out You Have a Warrant
If you’re not sure whether you have a warrant or not, we recommend you find out as soon as possible. Finding out about your warrant means you’ll have time to prepare by hiring a lawyer to tell you the best course of action.
You’ll also have the option to turn yourself in while you have the chance since that can lead the judge to be more forgiving towards your case than if the police had to find and arrest you.
And since the police won’t notify you of your warrant, if you don’t take the time and effort to find out whether you have a warrant, you’ll end up getting arrested at an inconvenient time, such as when you’re getting pulled over, or even sitting in your house.
So here are some ways you can find out if you have a warrant.
The easiest and quickest way to find out if you have a warrant is to search online. There are tons of websites out there that contain a warrant database. First, however, you’ll need to find a website with your county’s court database.
Also, there’s the possibility that some of those websites are fake, so try to search your name on two or three different sites to reach credible results.
Contact the Local Police Department
If you want to find out whether you have a warrant in your county, what better place to go to than the police department? They have access to the law enforcement’s warrant database and can tell you whether you’re wanted or not.
The only problem is, if it’s an arrest warrant, they will demand that you turn yourself in right then and there. So that might not be the best option for everyone.
Contact Your United States District Court
If a court of another county issued a warrant against you, and you go to the police department of another county, they might not have the information you desire. Therefore, you’ll have to go to your U.S. district court.
There, they’ll have a larger database. So, therefore, they’ll be more equipped to tell you whether you have a warrant or not.
Hire a Lawyer
If you want to save yourself the hassle of finding out whether or not you have a warrant, you can simply hire a lawyer to do the hard work for you.
Also, having a lawyer do this instead of you eliminates the risk of getting arrested at a police department if you were to walk in and ask them to check your name for an arrest warrant.
Consequences of Ignoring a Warrant
Since you won’t be notified when you get a warrant, you won’t get to address it. And in that case, law enforcement assumes that you’re actively evading the warrant, which could lead to dire consequences.
Getting Arrested at Your Next Encounter With the Police
Instead of turning yourself in on your own accord, you’ll be dealing with more than a ticket the next time you get pulled over for a broken taillight.
Receiving Additional Charges
Evading a warrant could lead to you receiving additional charges to the ones you already have. Also, this highly reduces your chance of negotiating a deal for reduced charges or sentencing. And you’ll be putting yourself in an overall worse position regarding your criminal defense case.
Difficulties in Getting a Job
If you apply to a job that does background checks on their applicants, your warrant will show up in the results, and you’ll likely get disqualified.
Complications With Your Driver’s License
If your driver’s license expires, you’ll have to go to the DMV to renew it. However, as soon as the people at the DMV search your name, your warrant will show up. And they will report it to the police.
You also won’t be able to transfer the lease of your vehicle with a warrant.
Problems With Traveling
Attempting to cross a border will be impossible since law enforcement will check your identity. And if you have a bench or arrest warrant, you’ll be instantly arrested and sent to jail.