The state of Nevada, particularly Las Vegas, is all about fun and entertainment 24/7. What’s not fun is getting arrested for an outstanding warrant you never knew about. Imagine for a moment that you’re out with your loved ones when the cops take you away. The experience will be not only inconvenient but also traumatic for you and your family. Getting picked up and hauled into jail can change your life.
What’s more troubling is that the arrest can happen anywhere, anytime. The moment the police stop you for even a routine check, the officers will run your ID. They will see if you have any outstanding warrants, even those from another state and ones you never knew existed. A routine traffic stop, job application, or courthouse visit can turn into a nightmare.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you think you have a phantom warrant lurking in your record, read on to find out how to deal with it.
Understanding How Warrants Work
Let’s take a closer look at what a warrant is, how they work, and what to do if you have one.
What is a Warrant?
A warrant is a court order that directs law enforcement to apprehend the warranted subject and take him/her before the judge. The court will issue an order if you fail to show up for a scheduled court date or if you don’t follow conditions set by the court. Only a judge or magistrate can issue a warrant.
How Can I have a Warrant I know Nothing About?
The subject doesn’t usually know that there’s a warrant out for his/her arrest. There are many loopholes in the justice system, and that’s the way it works. A warrant is valid as long as there is a physical description of the subject and probable cause to merit one.
The reason the lack of notification could be due to a change in your address. In most cases, an unknown warrant is because the jurisdiction is too overwhelmed to serve each order on file. Law enforcement won’t let you off the hook even if you don’t know how warrants work. If an officer sees an outstanding arrest order on your record, s/he will take you into custody, whether you knew about it or not.
Types of Warrants
There are different types of warrants, and knowing which one you’re facing will give you a better understanding of the situation.
The court issues an arrest warrant for any suspected criminal offense. This type of summons is usually granted without notice to prevent alerting the subject of his/her wanted status. Moreover, a suspect may flee upon getting wind of the warrant. An “outstanding warrant” means that the police have yet to arrest the subject. Officers are always on the lookout for people with outstanding arrest warrants.
A bench warrant is a summons issued by the court when a subject commits the following:
- Fails to pay child support.
- Fails to meet a legal obligation.
- Misses a scheduled court appearance.
Police officers aren’t required to always be on the lookout for subjects of bench warrants. However, the law requires that they make an arrest whenever they come across a person with an outstanding summons. Arrests could happen either on a routine traffic stop or any other interaction with a subject while on duty.
How to Check if You Have a Warrant
To avoid the chaos of a sudden arrest in Nevada, you must keep tabs on your record. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, the last thing you need is getting arrested in public. It’s always better to know about warrants beforehand so that you can surrender yourself voluntarily.
There are three ways to check if there’s an outstanding warrant out for you: online, by phone, and appearing in person.
Online Records Search
In the silver state, you can make a Nevada arrest records search online for state and federal records. There are several free and paid services available at your disposal. You need to provide your full name and the city or county you think you may have a warrant.
Checking by Telephone
If you’re checking for warrants by phone, hiring an attorney to inquire on your behalf is the safer approach. You don’t want to risk exposing your location if you have an outstanding warrant and are not ready to deal with it yet.
Going to the Court In-Person
Head to the city or county courthouse that issued the warrant. Consult an attorney before showing up and checking with the courthouse.
Please note that city, municipal, and county courts can only assist with orders they issued.
Searching for Warrants by Area
One of the most popular destinations in Nevada is Las Vegas. For warrants issued by the municipal court, go to the City of Las Vegas Marshal Warrant Search and enter your name and social security number. You can also do an alphabetical search by using your last name.
For warrants issued by the Las Vegas Justice Court, you can go to the Las Vegas Township Justice Court Records Inquiry. It’s an automated service, and all you need is to follow all the prompts appearing on your screen. If a case has an active warrant, a white and red “W” will appear on the left of the case number.
The Clark County District Attorney website doesn’t offer an online search feature. It makes up for it by providing the contact information for municipal and justice courts in an around Vegas.
Steps to Take When You Get Arrested
Getting arrested in Nevada for a warrant, you may have missed doesn’t necessarily mean automatic jail time. You still have the right to due process, and that means posting bail and skipping detention. Staying out of jail is crucial because you can better handle the legal issues with your attorney and get help from family and friends.