There are many different reasons why performing a free federal arrest warrant search might be beneficial.
And fortunately, there are both federal and local government databases that can be accessed quickly and easily to find arrest warrants.
Most importantly, these tools are free to use to search for information about anyone, especially anyone that you suspect may be a fugitive from justice.
Check this database in order to find more information about active warrants for free, and follow this comprehensive guide to perform a federal arrest warrant search in any state.
Keep in mind, warrants are not posted in these databases until the charges are filed.
How To Check for Arrest Warrants (How To Find Out if You Have a Warrant)
How to check for warrants and how to find out if you have a warrant out against you will depend on the type of warrant that has been issued. Unfortunately, some arrest warrants are not made public as this would essentially warn the suspect that they have an impending arrest and may cause them to flee. This can make it fairly difficult to find warrant information.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department (and most sheriff’s websites) offer an online warrant search tool that can be accessed by anyone.
There are still some steps that can be taken, but first individuals need to determine who would have issued the warrant. Some warrants will be issued by local or state police, whereas others may be issued by the U.S. Marshals or the FBI.1,2 Regardless, the process of performing a federal arrest warrant search or a local arrest warrant search is fairly similar.
Currently, there is no reliable way of performing an arrest warrant search on another individual. Arrest warrants can be confidential until the arrest is made and therefore, some won’t be visible until the charges are filed. However, individuals who believe there is an active warrant for their own arrest will have options available.
If this is the case the best thing to do is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Not only will the attorney be able to guide individuals through the legal process, but they will also be able to handle a situation in which an individual has an active warrant. Most likely, the attorney will contact the law enforcement agency that has possibly issued the warrant and arrange for the individual to surrender themselves to law enforcement.
Although getting arrested may not be the most appealing, voluntarily surrendering to law enforcement is always the best long-term option when it comes to getting the minimum sentencing for the crime.
What Is a Federal Warrant Search?
A federal warrant search is a tool used by law enforcement to determine if an individual has any active warrants anywhere in the United States. The database is maintained by the U.S. Marshals and can be used by numerous law enforcement agencies.
The system is known as the Warrant information system (WIN)3 and will have information regarding the reason for the arrest warrant if the individual is expected to be dangerous as well as a description of the individual and any identifying features to make identify the individual as easy as possible for law enforcement.
Warrant information issued by the US Marshals Service outlines how federal fugitives are tracked and catalogued.
The U.S. Marshall WIN is a private system and is not accessible to the public for any reason. Even law enforcement will need a specific reason to access information in the WIN system.
Who Can Use the Federal Arrest Warrant Search? (Federal Arrest Warrants Search)
The WIN system is only available to authorized law enforcement for official use. This means that a law enforcement officer will need a specific reason to perform a search of the WIN system and will need to get this reason approved by the U.S. marshal service in order to access the database.
The U.S. Marshal service limits the database only to law enforcement officers working on assigned tasks.
Active Warrant Search
As mentioned, there is currently no federal arrest warrant search system available to the public. Warrants are kept confidential as a matter of public safety. Individuals who know they are about to be arrested may take drastic measures to avoid arrest which may put individuals in harm’s way.
Keeping this information confidential will allow law enforcement to make an arrest with minimal risk to the public.
Search for active warrants in Alaska by using the state troopers public safety website.
Individuals who believe they have an active warrant should contact an attorney who will be able to check if there is an active warrant and make the necessary arrangements.
How To Check Federal Arrests
The best way to check information about arrests made by federal law enforcement officers such as the FBI is to use the PACER system.4 Similar to the searchable court databases maintained at the state level, the PACER system works as a searchable criminal court database for all federal cases.
Keep in mind that certain information may be restricted if the investigation is ongoing but other than this or other unique circumstances all the information is covered under the freedom of information act and will be available.5
U.S. Marshals Warrant List
The U.S. marshals are a federal law enforcement agency whose jurisdiction is related specifically to the federal courts. Many individuals may be confused about the difference between the FBI and U.S. marshals.
The main difference is that US marshals perform duties related to the courts such as transporting federal prisoners and providing security to members of the courts. Whereas the FBI operates more like the police for the federal government, preventing federal crimes and arresting those that committed them.
The community information center in Alabama allows members of the public to enter and search information about criminal sex offenders, missing persons and fugitives.
The aforementioned WIN system is the US. marshal warrant list. It can only be accessed by authorized law enforcement personnel.
How To Find Out if Someone Has a Warrant Online for Free
There is currently no reliable way to find out if someone has a warrant online at any cost. Since this information is confidential it is kept secret from everyone but select law enforcement personnel that will be involved in the investigation and eventual arrest.
Although warrant information is confidential, not all federal criminal information is considered confidential and there is plenty of information that can be learned from the PACER system.
PACER Court Records
The PACER court record system is an online database of federal court records. Individuals can use this system to find information on arrests, charges, and convictions for federal criminals.
Keep in mind that since the PACER system is maintained by the federal courts, only federal cases will be available. State court cases will only be available through state or county court databases.
Related Reading: How to Find Out What Someone Was Arrested For (View Their Crimes)
Free PACER Search
The PACER system can be used for free in a limited capacity. Although there will be associated fees with performing searches and requesting documents, these charges only apply after accruing $30 worth of fees.6 Furthermore at the end of the quarter, this $30 limit will reset and allow for more free searches until the threshold is met again.
This makes it a great option for individuals who are curious about a specific case or about a specific individual.
Criminal Court Case Lookup
The PACER system can also be used to perform court case lookups. The process is fairly simple and only requires that individuals create a free account in order to access court records. With the account created, individuals can use the PACER search system to perform searches based on where the case was filed, the names of the individual, etc.
Federal Charges Lookup by Name
Most individuals using the PACER system will want to find information on a specific individual. This is extremely easy as the PACER system allows individuals to perform searches by name. When the search is complete individuals will be able to see all relevant information that matches the name that was entered including charges, arrest information, and conviction information.
U.S. Marshals Wanted List
The U.S. Marshal has a list of individuals who are wanted for questioning as well as a list of individuals that they are seeking information on such as missing persons. These lists are held by the various field offices that the U.S marshals have across the country.
In addition to the wanted lists maintained by the U.S Marshals, there are also state police wanted lists maintained by various state agencies that commonly overlap with the U.S. marshals.
Use the list below to find out about wanted individuals in each state.
Not knowing if you have an active warrant can be a scary situation for many people. Individuals can perform a federal arrest warrant search (and most of the time its free), after charges have been filed and also use the options available to learn about active warrants or other federal criminal information.
Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Arrest Warrant Search