A warrant for an arrest is an order from a judge that authorizes law enforcement to arrest a specific individual for a crime that they have been accused of committing.

Before the judge signs the order, law enforcement must present certain information such as the fact that they have sufficient probable cause to arrest the suspect and that the suspect is the person responsible for the crime provided in the warrant.

The document that the judge signs then becomes the arrest warrant, which must include the name and location of the person to be arrested, along with some other detailed information.

This warrant permits law enforcement to arrest the suspect at any location or time that they find the person, unless there are some exceptions or restrictions listed in the warrant.

What is an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

An outstanding warrant, however, is a valid arrest warrant that was originally issued months or even years ago, but has not been fulfilled.

Outstanding warrants are still considered to be valid warrants because it simply means that the person who was named in the original arrest warrant, has not yet been arrested.

Additionally, “outstanding” also means that the warrant is still active. Thus, it can be used to arrest that person at any time or place in which they are then found. For example, if someone is pulled over for a traffic violation then the police will check if there are any outstanding warrants. If there are, then the individual can be taken into custody even if their traffic violation is not enough to arrest them.

How Can a Warrant be Outstanding?

There are many reasons as to why a warrant might be outstanding. Some of these reasons might include:

  • That the individual does not know about the initial warrant against them;
  • The person could be evading law enforcement and being arrested; or
  • The law enforcement agency that is responsible for serving the warrant has not done so yet.

Regardless of the reason that it is outstanding, the warrant will still be valid (assuming it was valid to begin with), which means that the police have a right to arrest that person at any time or in any location.

The only exceptions being if they have the wrong individual, the original warrant was invalid, or if they have already served the warrant, but for some reason a clerical error was made within the law enforcement system.

Are There Consequences to Having an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

The greatest consequence for having an outstanding warrant against an individual is that they can be arrested at any time. This means that the arrest can occur while the person is out running errands or at work.

Another major legal repercussion is that they can be tried on the original criminal offense for which the warrant was issued, regardless of whether it was initially a felony or misdemeanor offense. This is especially true if the individual was intentionally evading law enforcement.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Criminal Charges?

There is a statute of limitations for certain criminal charges. Other crimes, such as murder or homicide, will never expire.

When it comes to the statute of limitations for outstanding arrest warrants, however, the original charge will never expire until that person is arrested because they are currently considered a fugitive (i.e., on the run from the law).

Are There Any Defenses Available Against Outstanding Arrest Warrants?

A person who has an outstanding warrant against them may have a number of legal defenses to use, which may enable them to eliminate the warrant.

For example, if they have a reasonable and adequate excuse for missing their court date due to an emergency, then they may be able to cite this reason as a defense.

Regardless of what their excuse is, it is best to consult an attorney about the reason being provided before heading to court or giving themselves up to the authorities to be arrested again.

How Can I Find Out If I Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?

There are several methods that a person can use to check for an outstanding warrant. Some of these ways may also depend on the jurisdiction in which the warrant was issued.

For example, when an individual is checking to see if they have a local outstanding warrant against them, they can do this in one of two ways:

  • First, they can try to search by visiting the local court’s website. Once there, they can then input the name of the person in the search box located in the public records section.


  • The second way they can check is by directly contacting their local courthouse. They can ask to speak to the court clerk who handles these matters and provide them the name of the individual.

Both methods will require the person to have as much information regarding the identity of the person for whom they are checking for, along with any relevant case numbers connected to the warrant (if there are any).

As for federal search warrants, this is also best accomplished by calling the federal clerk of court’s office line directly. Again, the person will need as much information as possible about the potential warrant and will need to provide the name of the specific individual.

They should also consider visiting the federal court in person to possibly get the information faster and more efficiently.

It is important to keep in mind that if a person has multiple outstanding warrants, then they may have to contact several different federal circuit courts or many different state courthouses to obtain this information.

Should I Discuss My Outstanding Arrest Warrant with a Lawyer?

If you have an outstanding arrest warrant against you, then you should contact a local criminal defense lawyer immediately.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can try to negotiate a reasonable solution to the warrant, check to see if there are any other outstanding warrants against you, and determine what defenses you may be able to use for your original criminal charges.