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How to Check for an Outstanding Arrest Warrant on Federal Charges- Federal Warrant Search

How to Check for an Outstanding Arrest Warrant on Federal Charges | Federal Warrant Search

Hey there! If you’re worried that you might have an outstanding arrest warrant for federal charges, I totally get it. That can be a scary situation. But don’t panic! In this article, I’ll walk you through some steps you can take to find out if there’s a warrant out for your arrest.
First off, what exactly is a federal arrest warrant? Basically, it’s an order issued by a federal judge or magistrate authorizing law enforcement to arrest someone and bring them before the court. Federal warrants are issued for things like federal crimes, probation violations, failure to appear in court, etc.
So how do you check for federal warrants? Here are some options:

Check Online Court Records

Many federal district courts have online public access systems where you can search for cases and warrants. You’ll want to check the U.S. District Court records for wherever you think the warrant might be.
For example, if you lived in Dallas a few years ago and think maybe something happened there, you could search the Northern District of Texas court records online. Try searching your name, birthdate, social security number – anything that could pull up a case with your name on it.
If you find a case with an outstanding warrant, it’ll likely say something like “Arrest Warrant Issued” or “Bench Warrant.” Make note of the case number and warrant details.

Call the U.S. Marshals Service

The U.S. Marshals Service is the federal agency responsible for serving arrest warrants. You can call their headquarters at (202) 307-9100 and ask if there are any outstanding federal warrants for you.
Make sure to have your personal info like full legal name, birthdate, social security number available. They should be able to search their National Warrant Database and let you know if anything comes up.
You can also contact the specific U.S. Marshals district office for the area where you think the warrant might be. For example, the Southern District of Florida office is (305) 960-5700. They may have more info on local warrants.

Contact the Clerk of Court

If you know the specific federal court that might have issued a warrant, you can call the Clerk of Court’s office directly. Explain you want to find out if there are any outstanding warrants in your name.
They can search the court’s records and let you know if anything comes up. Having details like your case number, judge’s name, etc can help them look it up faster.

Submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request

FOIA allows you to request access to federal agency records on yourself. You can submit FOIA requests to the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, and other agencies asking for any warrants, investigations, or records with your name on them.
The agency will search their records and send you any relevant documents (though some info may be redacted). This costs no money, but can take weeks or months to get a response.

Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense attorney can help investigate if you have any outstanding warrants. They have resources like access to law enforcement databases, relationships with court clerks, etc. They can also advise you on the best way to handle the situation.
Many lawyers offer free consultations, so it doesn’t hurt to discuss your case. If you confirm there is a warrant, you’ll definitely want legal representation.

Turn Yourself In

If you do find out there’s a federal warrant out for your arrest, you may want to consider turning yourself in. This shows good faith and that you’re taking responsibility. It also allows you to get booked and released rather than be arrested unexpectedly later.
Be sure to consult your attorney first about the best way to go about this. You’ll want legal counsel for your first court appearance.
The good news is federal warrants don’t last forever. The statute of limitations is usually 5 years for most federal crimes. Warrants can expire and fall off your record eventually.

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Possible Defenses If There Is a Warrant

If you discover there is indeed a federal warrant out for your arrest, don’t panic! There may still be defenses your attorney can use to get the warrant dismissed or recalled:
Mistaken identity – If your name is common, they may have the wrong person. Your lawyer can present evidence it’s a case of mistaken ID.
Alibi – If you have proof you were elsewhere at the time of the alleged crime, that’s a solid defense.
Statute of Limitations Expired – If it’s been over 5 years since the crime, the warrant may no longer be valid.
Lack of notice – If you never received proper notice to appear in court, that could invalidate the warrant.
Emergency – If you missed court for an emergency like a health crisis, that’s a defense.
Bottom line – don’t ignore a federal warrant, but also don’t panic. With the right legal strategy, your attorney may get it dismissed. The sooner you take action, the better.
I know dealing with warrants can be scary and stressful. But knowledge is power, so hopefully this gives you a place to start in figuring out if you have one and taking steps to handle it. Let me know if you have any other questions!

How Federal Arrest Warrants Work

If you’re unclear on how federal warrants even work in the first place, let’s break it down:

Why Are Federal Warrants Issued?

Judges issue federal arrest warrants when a person has been charged with a federal crime but not yet arrested. Some common reasons include:
The person was indicted on federal charges but not yet located to be arrested.
Someone failed to appear in federal court after being released pre-trial.
A defendant violated probation terms or conditions of supervised release.
The court wants to hold someone in custody pending further legal proceedings.
A material witness needed for a federal case can’t be located/won’t cooperate.
So in general, the warrant allows law enforcement to arrest and detain the person to get them into court.

What’s Included in a Federal Warrant?

An arrest warrant includes:
Name of the person to be arrested
Address, if known
Physical description, like age, height, weight
The specific federal charges
Instructions for arrest procedures
Name of the issuing judge
Court seal certifying its authenticity
Federal warrants list the specific statutory charges so the person knows exactly what they’re accused of.

Who Issues Federal Warrants?

Arrest warrants are signed and approved by federal magistrate judges or district judges. They’re issued out of the U.S. District Court in the region where the crime occurred.
For instance, if you committed bank fraud in Phoenix, the warrant would come from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona and be signed by a judge there.

Who Serves Federal Warrants?

U.S. Marshals are the primary agency responsible for serving federal arrest warrants. Marshals have the authority to pursue fugitives across state lines. Local law enforcement may also assist.
Marshals regularly enter active federal warrants into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which police nationwide can access. So any law enforcement officer could potentially arrest you if they run your name and see an NCIC warrant.

What Happens After Arrest on a Federal Warrant?

Once arrested on a federal warrant, you’ll be booked into the local jail to await your first court appearance, known as an initial appearance.
At your initial appearance, a federal judge will formally notify you of the charges and your rights. You’ll also have a chance to request bail.
If released pre-trial, the warrant will be cleared from your record. But failure to appear again would cause another warrant to be issued.
After the initial appearance, your case proceeds through the federal court process, starting with a preliminary hearing and eventual criminal trial.

How Long Are Federal Warrants Valid?

Federal arrest warrants don’t technically expire. They remain open until the person is arrested or the charges are eventually dropped by the government.
However, the statute of limitations sets limits on how long after a crime they can prosecute you. For most federal crimes it’s 5 years.
So if a warrant is more than 5 years old from the crime date, your lawyer can argue it’s no longer valid and should be vacated. The court can then dismiss the charges and recall the warrant.

Can a Federal Warrant Be Dropped?

Yes, it’s possible to get a federal warrant dismissed. Reasons a warrant can be dropped include:
The prosecutor decides not to pursue the charges.
You successfully argue a defense like mistaken identity, alibi, lack of evidence, etc.
Your lawyer negotiates a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
You comply with the warrant by turning yourself in. This shows good faith.
The court determines the warrant was improperly issued or invalid.
Talk to your criminal defense attorney about strategies to challenge the warrant and try to get it dropped or recalled. Don’t ignore a federal warrant and hope it goes away.

Dealing with Outstanding Warrants

If there is an outstanding federal warrant in your name, I know that’s scary. Here are some tips on handling it:

Don’t Panic

Take a deep breath. Outstanding warrants sound ominous but there are still options. Don’t panic and do anything rash.

Consult a Lawyer

Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. They can investigate the warrant, advise your rights, and start working on legal defenses.

Don’t Try to Run

I know the instinct to flee. But that will only make things exponentially worse. Face the situation head-on.

Consider Turning Yourself In

Surrendering shows good faith and that you’re taking responsibility. It starts the legal process on your terms.

Research Possible Defenses

Start gathering alibis, evidence, witnesses, etc. to defend yourself. An attorney can help build your case.

Weigh Options for Dismissal

Your lawyer may get charges dropped by arguing deficiencies in the warrant or working out a plea deal.

Develop a Long-Term Resolution Plan

Getting the warrant cleared is step one. Then develop a plan with your lawyer to resolve the underlying charges.

Stay Positive

Keep your head up. With the right legal strategy, you can get through this. Take it one step at a time.
Dealing with a federal warrant is daunting. But you have more options than you realize. Don’t go it alone. Lean on your support system and legal counsel. And don’t lose hope. There are always paths forward, even if you can’t see them yet. You got this!

Common Federal Arrest Warrant Scams

While checking for warrants, beware of common federal warrant scams! Here are some tips to avoid getting duped:

Arrest Warrants Are Not Served by Phone

If someone calls claiming there’s a warrant and you must pay fines or fees, hang up. Real warrants are served in person.

Government Will Not Email or Fax Warrants

Warrants are official court documents with original signatures and seals. Any emailed or faxed “warrant” is fake.

Research Suspicious Warrant Numbers

Scammers use fake warrant or case numbers. Google any numbers to see if they come up elsewhere as scams.

Law Enforcement Will Not Demand Money

Real officers will never call demanding payment by wire transfer, gift card, etc. That’s a huge red flag.

Verify Court Documents

Call the clerk of court’s office to confirm any warrants sent to you. Get documentation directly from the source.

Ask for a Callback Number

Insist on a call back number to verify the person’s identity. Look up the number for the agency’s published line.

Consult an Attorney

When in doubt, contact a lawyer. They can verify if a warrant is real and advise you on responding.

Report Any Scams

If targeted by a warrant scam, file complaints with the FTC, FBI, FCC, and U.S.

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