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How Do You Know If You Have an Arrest Warrant?


Getting arrested can be a scary thing, or if you think you could be arrested, it is unsettling. If you believe you may have issues with the law that would generate an arrest warrant, it is recommended to perform an arrest warrant search and address the issues before that happens. For the purpose of this article and before we answer the question “How do you know if you have an arrest warrant?”, let’s define what is an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant intends to authorize any law enforcement permission and right to arrest and detain the individual named in the warrant. There are three categories of arrest warrants:
  • Criminal bench warrants – a person that has been accused of committing a crime
  • Non-support warrants – family court
  • Miscellaneous warrants – magistrates’ warrants or warrants outside the jurisdiction

Any person that has an outstanding warrant can be arrested and taken into custody at any time by any law enforcement agent. An arrest warrant is only issued after law enforcement has proven to a magistrate there is probable cause found by evidence that implicates the person named in the arrest warrant request. 

Any person that believes they may have a warrant issued in their name can do an arrest warrant search and handle the manner before they are confronted and arrested by law enforcement. We’ll get more details on this topic as we go along in the article. 

What is the difference between warrant of arrest and search warrant?

A warrant is issued and signed by a judge, giving law enforcement written orders that authorize them to make an arrest, seize evidence, or perform a search. A search warrant is issued by a judge when they have been given evidence that shows there is probable cause evidence related to a crime that may be discovered during the search. An arrest warrant is issued when there is reasonable belief the person named is involved or has been involved with criminal activity.

The main differences between Arrest warrant search and meaning and search warrants include: 

  • A search warrant is issued prior to charges being filed or an arrest being made. 
  • An arrest warrant is issued later in the process of a criminal case


Typically, in a criminal case, a trial starts after an indictment has been handed down. A search warrant is issued before an official case has been established and opened. An arrest warrant can be issued after an indictment has been handed down while a search warrant must have probable cause proven. A search warrant usually has a set time frame to be followed through, meaning it is valid for only the dates stated in the warrant. An arrest warrant has a time frame as well but is usually longer than a search warrant because of the possibility the person named has gone into hiding. 

How many types of warrants are there?

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are six different arrest warrant types. If you fall into any of these categories, you can perform an arrest warrant search before and handle the manner before law enforcement finds you. The general description of these six different types of warrants are as follows: 

  • Arrest Warrant: Issued by a magistrate or judge that has had probable cause shown to them that the person’s name has allegedly committed a crime. This type of warrant may be driven by a police investigation, a witness testimony, or a grand jury indictment. 
  • Bench Warrant: Issue by a magistrate or judge when the person’s name has violated the rules of that judge’s court and maybe from a civil or criminal case. Possible reasons for a bench warrant are failure to appear in court; incomplete court-ordered class; unpaid court-ordered fees and fines. 
  • Search Warrant: Issued by a magistrate or judge that gives law enforcement authority to search a person, place, or other location when probable has been established based upon the affirmed or sworn facts, usually concerning a case. 
  • Civil Warrant: Issued in civil cases, typically a monetary issue for a debt, often results in wage garnishments. If a civil case is over the property, it is referred to as a warrant in detinue.
  • Eviction Warrant: Issued when an individual is behind on rent or defaulted on a mortgage. 
  • Traffic Warrant: Issued for a person that has failed to pay parking fines or traffic tickets. 

Do warrants show up in a background check?

It can, any type of warrant is traceable, so, depending on thorough somebody is when they do a background check will depend on whether it shows up or not. If you have any concern that there is any warrant in your name, then expect it to show up in a background check. You can conduct an arrest warrant search for yourself before agreeing to a background check. Then you’ll know if you’re transparent or not. However, that doesn’t mean that between the time you conduct your own background check or do an arrest warrant search and when the other party (like a prospective employer) does the background check, one could show up as databases are updated at different times. 


Like most other states, Pennsylvania has a website where anyone can do an arrest warrant search as well as a bench warrant, eviction warrant, or traffic warranty. To Find arrest warrants in the state of Pennsylvania, to the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System Web portal and scroll down to the “Public Web Docket Sheets” section. For search type, enter “Participant Name,” which will take you another page where you enter the person’s name and the county. The suspected arrest warrant may be issued and follow any further instructions on How to arrest warrant search. You can also call or go in person to the law enforcement office in the city, county, state, or any jurisdiction where you may have a warrant in your name and inquire. Call (412) 368-5188 today for help with your warrant!