A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a judge, magistrate, or commissioner when a party or witness to a court case fails to appear for court. A bench warrant search may be conducted online in many cases. If an online search is unsuccessful, then a search via telephone may uncover the warrant. You will need identifying information for the subject of the warrant at a bare minimum. The case or cause number of the case for which the person failed to appear and the date he or she failed to appear will also be helpful.
Locating the chronological case summary for the case is the easiest way to conduct a bench warrant search. All courts keep a detailed record of what happened at each hearing. As such, if a bench warrant was issued, it will be noted on the record for the day is was ordered.
Locate the court website for the court where the person was scheduled to appear. Once the website has been located, look for a link to "records," "search records," "case inquiry," or something similar. Once you have found the appropriate page, input all the information that you have regarding the case. If you are able to locate the case, then scroll down to the date in question and read the entries for that day. If the judge, magistrate, or commissioner entered a bench warrant, then it will be indicated in the summary for that day.
If the court website is unavailable, or you are unable to locate the case through their online search option, then a telephone call to the court may be required to conduct a bench warrant search. The appropriate telephone number to call is for the clerk of courts. Although court records are generally public information, some courts are more helpful than others when requesting information over the telephone. Again, have as much information as possible regarding the individual and case available.
Contacting the local police department may work for a bench warrant search. Although bench warrants are similar to arrest warrants, they are civil in nature. As a result, not all bench warrants actually show up when a police officer conducts a search for warrants. In some cases, the warrant does not get input into the criminal warrant system. It is best not to conclude that a bench warrant was not issued simply because the police department has no record of one.
If you are unable to locate the records yourself, there are a number of companies that offer to conduct a bench warrant search for you for a fee. In many cases, however, you must pay the fee whether any information is located or not. If a bench warrant is located through the use of a company, then the information obtained should be double-checked with the actual court for accuracy.