Are Warrants Public Record in Arizona?
Yes. Under Arizona Revised Code § 13-3918, after the execution of a search warrant, all documents and records related to the warrant are made public as a judicial record. For other types of warrants, such as arrest and bench warrants, no state laws specifically state whether these types of warrants are public or confidential. However, under Arizona Public Record Law (A.R.S. § 39-101), records in the custody of any Arizona government entity that is substantially connected to government activities are presumably public records. Hence, It is reasonable to conclude that arrest and bench warrants are subject to this law, as their custodians provide several means that allow public access to these records. While considered judicial records, warrants are also held by law enforcement agencies and may be featured within Arizona criminal records.
What is a Warrant in Arizona?
In Arizona, a warrant is a document or order that allows a law enforcement agency to take any action that would ordinarily be a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. It allows the agency to search a person, and/or seize properties, or even place the subject under arrest. Under the Arizona Court System, the power to issue warrants lies with the Judges and Magistrates. However, before a court issues a warrant, the police will have to prove probable cause that a crime has been committed by the person against whom the warrant is made.
Probable cause is the standard of proof based on verifiable evidence, which makes it reasonable to believe that a wrong has been committed. Some things that can be used to show probable cause are the physical evidence of the crime, statements from persons who saw the crime happen, and proof that the suspect was in the area at that time. Where there is no probable cause, the application for a warrant is dead on arrival. The reason is that citizens are protected from unreasonable infringement of their rights and privacy under the Fourth Amendment.
How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Arizona?
If a person suspects that they may have a warrant, it is advisable to confirm for sure. There are four main ways for conducting an Arizona Warrant Search:
- Carrying out an online search
- Calling the Arizona Department of Public Safety
- Contacting local law enforcement
- Consulting a criminal defense attorney
The Arizona Judicial Branch has an online directory that allows the public free access to look up case information in 177 out of the 184 courts located in Arizona. The online portal is updated every Friday, and as such, is a source of reliable information. Individuals may use their first and last name and their date of birth to find out if there is an outstanding warrant in their name. For courts not listed on the database, interested persons may contact them directly for information on outstanding warrants. These courts are:
- Chandler Municipal (non-delinquent)
- Gilbert Municipal
- Justice of the Peace Courts (non-delinquent)
- Maricopa Superior Court (non-criminal)
- Mesa Municipal
- Paradise Valley Municipal
- Tempe Municipal
Arizona State Level
Another way to conduct an Arizona Warrant Search is to contact the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). The department has a phone line dedicated to warrant searches, and interested persons can call them on (602) 223-2233. What is necessary for this search is the person’s first and last name and their date of birth. Individuals have the option of contacting local law enforcement to find out if they have a warrant out on them. The reason is that warrant information may not be available online in every part of Arizona. Interested persons may place a call across or make an inquiry in person, with the only implication being that, if there is an active warrant out on the person, they may be arrested on the spot.
Consulting a criminal defense attorney is a much safer way to carry out an Arizona Warrant Search. Criminal defense attorneys have the necessary contacts with the courts and law enforcement to find out if there is an active warrant on a person. They also know how best to handle the issue once the status of the warrant is determined.
Records of warrants issued or executed in various jurisdictions are also maintained and by third-party websites. While third-party sites make accessing these records substantially easier, the information available on the sites may vary since they are not government run sources. To obtain warrant records from a third-party site, the requesting party may be required to provide:
- The personal information of the alleged suspect
- Information regarding the issuing officer
- The location where the warrant was issued.
How Long Does a Warrant Stay Active in Arizona?
In the State of Arizona, warrants do not expire. Warrants usually remain active until law enforcement officers arrest the defendant or the defendant turns themselves in. It is only the court that issued the warrant that can cancel, quash or resolve it. Avoiding or running away from a warrant is often a bad idea, as a routine stop can pull up the information and lead to an arrest. The best thing to do after discovering a warrant in Arizona is to get an attorney. A qualified attorney will check the facts surrounding the warrant to determine if a court appearance is needed. If it is a criminal arrest warrant, then an arrest cannot be avoided. Even if the person is innocent, the accused must prove innocence in court.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Warrant in Arizona?
In Arizona, a judge of any court in the state can issue a warrant in a matter of minutes or hours. Generally, before a warrant is issued, the prosecuting office acting on behalf of a state law enforcement agency must submit a sworn statement to the court. The statement must establish a reasonable belief that the warrant’s subject has committed a crime.
What is an Arizona Search Warrant?
Under the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-3911, a search warrant is an order issued on behalf of the State of Arizona that allows a peace officer to search persons, personal property, and other items described in the statute. Search warrants in Arizona are usually signed by a Magistrate or Judge. Some of the grounds upon which a search warrant may be issued are:
- That the property was used to commit a crime
- The property was stolen
- Where the property is evidence of a crime
Under ARS 13-3914, before a Judge or Magistrate issues a search warrant, the police must show probable cause, supported by sworn affidavits. ARS 13-3915(C) further expects search warrants to contain the following information:
- The county of issue
- Names of persons who swore the affidavit(s)
- Grounds for issuing the warrant
- Location of the search
- A description of the item to be search
- Date and signature of the Judge or Magistrate that issued the warrant
What Can Make an Arizona Search Warrant Invalid?
An Arizona Search Warrant can be invalid where it contravenes the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Other circumstances that can make a search warrant invalid in Arizona are:
- Where the sworn affidavit was not truthful
- If the affidavits failed to show probable cause to justify a search
The effect of an invalid search warrant is that any evidence discovered will be excluded from the trial.
How to Conduct an Active Warrant Search in Arizona
In Arizona, interested persons can query law information agencies, courts, or the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) to find active warrants.
If an inquirer chooses to conduct an active warrant search through a local law enforcement agency, they can contact or visit the agency’s office in person to make their query. Note that the law enforcement agency has to be in the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued. These agencies include County Sheriff’s offices and City Police Departments. Some law enforcement agencies maintain online search portals that inquirers can use to look up warrants issued within their jurisdiction. For instance, interested persons can use the warrant lookup portal provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's office to conduct active warrants searches for warrants issued within Maricopa county. Similar to other types of warrant search portals provided by law enforcement agencies in Arizona, searches are conducted on the Maricopa County warrant lookup portal using a subject’s name.
To conduct an active warrant search through a court, such as a Superior, Municipal, or Justice of the Peace Court, inquirers can contact the court clerk’s office by phone. Interested persons can find each Arizona court's contact information through the Find My Court locator. During their call, an inquirer can ask the operator if there are any outstanding warrants against a specific person and provide the person’s name. Inquirers may also be asked to provide additional information about the subject/warrant, such as a case number, birth date, and social security number (if available).
Alternatively, interested persons can use the Public Access to Court Information portal to find out if an Arizona court issued a warrant in specific court cases. Interested persons can also call the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (602) 223-2222 to conduct an active warrant search.
Free Warrant Search Options in Arizona
Interested persons can conduct free warrant searches in Arizona through online resources provided by law enforcement agenices and by contacting the State Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (602) 223-2222. Other methods of conducting free warrant searches include using the Public Access to Court Information portal and contacting courthouses clerk offices. For instance, inquirers can contact the Criminal Court Administration Information Desk of the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County at (602) 506-8575 to conduct free warrant searches for warrants issued by the court.
Furthermore, some third-party websites offer comprehensive free warrant searches in Arizona. Although these websites may be advertised as a free service, only basic information about warrants are usually provided for free. Users are typically required to pay a fee or subscription in order to receive comprehensive information about a warrant.
What is an Arrest Warrant in Arizona?
In Arizona, an arrest warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest a person. For it to be issued by a Judge or Magistrate, probable cause must be shown. Arizona law prescribes the form that an arrest warrant must take, and it must contain the following information:
- The name of the person to be arrested
- A reasonable description of the named person
- The charges against the suspect
Under Arizona Law, to properly execute an arrest warrant, the Police must find the person and apprehend them and take them before a judge or magistrate. An arrest warrant will be invalid in the following circumstances:
- Where it did not name or properly describe the accused person
- If it was not signed by a Judge or Magistrate
- Where no criminal charge was stated
- Where there is no probable cause
What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in Arizona?
In Arizona, failure to pay child support is a civil offense. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-681(D) defines a Child Support Arrest Warrant as an order from a judicial officer in a noncriminal child support matter. The effect of this order is to arrest the named person and bring them before the court. The Arizona Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the body that helps custodial parents recover child support payments. Failure to make this payment is a class six felony under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-511. By the provisions of Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-681(A), the court may issue a Child Support Arrest Warrant under the following circumstances:
- Where the noncustodial parent was ordered to be in court on a particular day
- If the noncustodial parent received notice of that order and failed to show up
The Child Support Arrest Warrant shall contain the name of the person and all other relevant information. By this order, the person is to be kept in custody or brought before a judicial officer. The warrant remains active until it is executed or quashed by the court.
What is an Arizona Bench Warrant?
An Arizona Bench Warrant is a type of warrant issued by a Judge or Magistrate, where a person is regarded as a fugitive from justice. Bench warrants are very common in Arizona to force people to come to court where they have missed a court date or a hearing. Where a person cannot attend a court hearing, it is best to file a motion to postpone. Otherwise, the court may issue a bench warrant. The effect of a bench warrant is that law enforcement officers may arrest a person and bring them to court.
A bench warrant does not fade away with time but remains outstanding till the defendant is taken into custody. Law enforcement officers have the right to conduct both interstate and international extradition, to extract the person from wherever they may be and bring them before the court. When law enforcement officers arrest a person on a bench warrant, the officers may hold the person in jail until a Judge or Magistrate is available to hear the matter. In this circumstance, the best thing to do is to contact a defense attorney for legal advice. Such an attorney may then help in the following ways:
- To approach the court to quash the warrant
- Prepare a defense against the warrant
- Plan for how the affected person can surrender
- Work towards the release of the defendant
In Arizona, What is Failure to Appear?
Failure to Appear is a criminal charge that arises where a person misses a fixed court date or refuses to show up. In Arizona, Failure to Appear is of two degrees:
- First-degree Failure to Appear
- Second-degree Failure to Appear
The first-degree failure to appear arises when a person misses a court hearing for a felony charge. Failure to Appear in this case is regarded as a Class 5 felony by the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-2507. Second-degree Failure to Appear concerns missing court dates over petty offenses, misdemeanors, or after the defendant was released on bail. For petty offenses or misdemeanors, Failure to Appear under the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§13-2506 is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, while for release on bail, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
How Long Do You Have to Stay in Jail for a Warrant for Missing Court in Arizona?
In Arizona, Failing to Appear in the first degree attracts a 1.5 years sentence and a fine of up to $150,000. The court or judge may reduce the sentence to a minimum of six months, if there are circumstances to justify the reduction, under the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-702. These circumstances include age, background, and character. However, where the defendant has an earlier felony conviction, they may spend more time in jail, under the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-703.
In the second degree, Failure to Appear, where it is a Class 2 misdemeanor, attracts a maximum sentence of four months in a non-prison facility or a fine of up to $750, as provided by the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§13-2506, 13-707, and 13-802. Where it is a Class 1 misdemeanor, it attracts a maximum sentence of six months in a non-prison facility and a fine of up to $2,500, as enshrined under the Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§13-2506, 13-707, and 13-802. The gravity of the punishment may increase if the defendant has served time for a similar charge in the past.
In Arizona, What is Failure to Pay?
Failure to pay refers to where a person is unable to settle their court-issued fines and other similar punishments. Under the AZ Rev Stat § 28-1601, individuals are expected to pay their civil penalties within 30 days of it being issued. However, the court may allow for installment payments or timeframe extensions where they are unable to meet up. The Arizona Department of Transportation may suspend the license of a defaulter, where the person fails to pay their civil penalty. The Arizona State Governor has further signed a bill to stop the suspension of driver’s licenses for persons who cannot afford their fines or fees when it relates to traffic offenses.
What is a No-Knock Warrant in Arizona?
A No-Knock Warrant in Arizona is a warrant for an unannounced entry. Under A.R.S. Section 13-3915(B), a magistrate may issue a No-Knock Warrant where:
- There is probable cause for issuing the warrant.
- There is a “reasonable showing” that announcing entry would endanger the safety of any person.
- Announcing entry will result in the destruction of the items stated in the warrant.
However, no-knock warrants in Arizona are subject to scrutiny, as the law failed to explain what “reasonable showing” means. They can also lead to dangerous and unexpected outcomes, sometimes worse than the crime itself. For example, the residents of the property may engage in a shootout with the police in order to defend themselves.
How to Perform a Federal Warrant Search
A federal warrant search can be conducted through the Warrant Information System (WIN) provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. WIN serves as a federal warrant status-tracking system that aids law enforcement agencies in investigating federal fugitives. Note that WIN is not a publicly accessible system. Records accessible through the system are protected from unauthorized access through different physical, administrative, and technical safeguards. Only officials of authorized law enforcement agencies can access WIN when performing their official duties.
Nonetheless, some third-party entities maintain public databases that contain information about public federal warrants, which members of the general public can use to perform a federal warrant search. Most of these databases are not accessible for free, and they are searched using a subject’s name.
Does Arizona DMV Check for Warrants?
Yes. The Arizona MVD may check to find out if an individual has any outstanding warrants when processing the individual’s application for any of the services the Department offers. Once an outstanding warrant is found, the MVD may use the warrant as a basis to suspend the individual’s license. Furthermore, the MVD may have a Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer on-site to assist with this process.