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Do Warrants Show Up On Background Checks?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in LawJanuary 14, 2021

Everyone has heard the word warrant, and most of us understand what an arrest warrant is, but did you know that there are other types too, and some can show up in a background check?

Different Types of Warrants

The criminal justice system uses a few different types of warrants with offenders. They are as follows:

  • Search Warrant - These types of warrants are issued by a judge or magistrate, and they allow law enforcement to search a person, place, or thing. The item(s) to be searched must be clearly spelled out in the warrant. Law enforcement may not search for anything that is not included in the warrant. When law enforcement has probable cause to believe they will find evidence, they must supply a judge with a sworn affidavit, and if the judge approves it, they get their warrant.
  • Arrest Warrant - If law enforcement has enough evidence that someone committed a crime, they can request an arrest warrant from the judge. They must follow the same rules as with a search warrant and provide probable cause and a signed affidavit. The person and the suspected crime must be named in the arrest warrant. If law enforcement witnesses someone committing a crime, they do not need to get a warrant before arresting them. 
  • Bench Warrant - When an offender fails to appear in court, a judge may order a bench warrant which is a type of arrest warrant. 
  • Failure to Appear - If someone is court-ordered to appear for a hearing in court and they fail to show up, a judge may issue a failure to appear arrest warrant. Not showing up in court is a misdemeanor in some areas.
  • Failure to Pay - If a person fails to pay a court-ordered fine, fee, assessment, or restitution for damages they caused, a judge may issue a failure to pay warrant for their arrest.
  • Child Support Arrest Warrant - If a parent does not show up in court for a child support hearing or fails to pay, a judge can order a child support arrest warrant and keep them in custody until they appear in court or pay the fees.
  • Capias Warrant - Whenever an offender fails to complete some court-ordered program or term, a judge may issue a capias warrant for their arrest.
  • Civil Warrant - This type of warrant is used to force an offender to do something like complete a court-ordered program or pay a fine.

Does a Background Check Shows Warrants? What about Bench, Arrest, Capias, and Civil Warrants?

Depending on the type of warrant, many of them will show up in a standard background check or criminal background check. If you have agreed to an employment background check or one for licensing, and you are worried about what might show up, you can order a background check report on yourself to find out before anyone else does.

background check report

To answer the question, "do warrants show up on background checks?" Typically, warrants issued by a court or judge will show up in a background check. That is because they are public records. However, if a local law enforcement agency (police or Sheriff's) or federal law enforcement agency (FBI, CIA, etc.) issues one, the records may not show up in a full background check.

In cases where local law enforcement issues an arrest warrant (even though a judge signs it), it is not initiated by the courts, and therefore it would not be on a background check.

Do bench warrants appear on a background check? Bench warrants are always issued by the court and will be on a background check. A Capias warrant will also show up on a background check because they are initiated by the courts and subject to public records.

Civil warrants begin at the court level and thus will be on a background check that someone pulls in your name.

Do background checks show warrants from other states? Some do, and some do not; it depends on who performs the background check.

What Information Shows Up On a Background Check

Along with warrants, a background check will also show:

  • Criminal records
  • Court records
  • Court orders
  • Criminal convictions
  • DUIs
  • Outstanding warrants
  • Arrest records
  • Criminal warrants
  • Civil court cases
  • Criminal offenses
  • Open warrants
  • Warrant information
  • Criminal cases

If you have your records expunged, they shouldn't show up. However, some offenders have had their criminal history show up on a background check even after expungement. If you have issues with this, you can always consult your criminal defense attorney for legal advice on how to completely remove the offenses from background check companies' data.

An FBI background check is extensive, and you may be asked to submit to a level 2 background check if you apply for any government jobs. Before hiring you, they want to know if you have any criminal activity in your history.

Although FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) laws protect you against employers and others from running a record check on you without your permission or using the background screening for illegal purposes, the government may have legal rights to pull up your criminal history check without your consent.

How to Check If You Can Pass a Background Check With a Warrant?

Before giving the go-ahead for someone to run a background check on you, it's always a good idea to run one yourself first. If your next job depends on it, you need to know how to run a background check on yourself.

You can do this in a couple of different ways.

First, you could visit various public records offices and contact the DMV, courts, local law enforcement, and town offices to get everything you need. This may take time, and the cost could add up. Often you must pay a nominal fee for copies of records.

Another option is to use a third-party service like Infotracer where you can enter your name and click a button and get not only a complete background check report but also a ton of extras like birth records, assets, property, marriages, and divorces, liens, mugshots, driving records, social media accounts, emails, relatives, past addresses, and more. In terms of ease and efficiency, this is the preferred way to go.

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