Warrants in the coastal state of South Carolina do not expire. If you have an active or outstanding warrant on your record, attempting to stay under the radar and hoping it blows over is simply prolonging the inevitable.
You may have to spend a few uncomfortable nights in a South Carolina jail if you don’t handle warrants correctly.
If you’re wondering how to go about your search for warrants in South Carolina, this article can set you on the correct course.
What to Know About Warrants in South Carolina
Warrants are legal documents that give law enforcement agents the power to summon those accused of committing crimes to court.
Any person or piece of property suspected of being involved in a crime may be legally detained, searched, or seized by a police officer with a warrant.
If the prosecution requests it, a summons may be issued in place of a warrant. If this legal directive is ignored, the court may nonetheless issue a warrant for the alleged offender's arrest.
It is necessary to prove probable cause for an arrest warrant in South Carolina according to the state penal statute and the Fourth Amendment.
Courts in South Carolina begin deliberations on warrants when the affiant submits a declaration of offense.
This affidavit provides the court with information about the incident that took place, the justification for the complainant's finding that it constitutes criminal activity, the identity of the alleged offender, and a description of the part they are said to have played in the occurrence.
As part of the prosecution, the magistrate must consider whether this information reasonably establishes that the accused committed the crime.
To issue an arrest warrant or search warrant, probable cause must be established.
Types of Warrants in South Carolina
Depending on the status of the offense, and based on the request of prosecuting officers, courts in South Carolina may issue arrest warrants, search warrants, and bench warrants.
Arrest warrants in South Carolina are typically issued by municipal judges or magistrates based on a written and sworn application from a law enforcement officer.
Law enforcement agents seek arrest warrants when they need legal backing to arrest and detain an individual suspected of breaking the law.
Before a magistrate or municipal judge issues an arrest warrant, there must be sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a crime was committed and the defendant was responsible.
The court may accept corroborating testimony from a trustworthy informant, but the affidavit must provide facts and not speculation.
A Bench Warrant
Bench warrants are issued to offenders who have either violated bail terms or disobeyed a court order and need to be apprehended again.
Judicial officers in South Carolina do not need an affidavit to issue bench warrants.
Judges and magistrates in the state may issue arrest warrants at their own initiative, without needing a complainant to file a petition for the judicial order.
Just like arrest warrants, bench warrants are to be obeyed and executed by individuals and law enforcement officers, respectively. They do, however, have limited jurisdiction.
Bench warrants may be served exclusively in the county where they were issued or strictly within the geographical bounds of the state of South Carolina. They may also expire over time.
A Search Warrant
A variety of judicial officers in South Carolina are permitted by law to issue search warrants.
These documents give law enforcement agents the right to examine particular personal possessions and take materials that can later be used as evidence in court.
An affidavit stating the reasons why the request should be granted must be submitted by the petitioner before a judicial officer will grant a search warrant request.
If the magistrate decides there is enough probable cause, they will issue a search warrant.
For a search warrant to be valid, it must specify the name of the person it is directed to, a description of the specific item sought, and the date and time when the warrant was issued.
Finding Warrants in South Carolina
There are various ways to determine whether you are the subject of an active or pending warrant in South Carolina. Any of the following places are good places to look for South Carolina warrants:
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
Criminal history and warrant information may be accessed through the crime history access program (CATCH), made available to civilians by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), for short.
Detailed information concerning arrest histories and warrants is available for $25 per query. To request a warrant search through SLED, you must provide the subject's first and last names, social security numbers, and date of birth.
To use the CATCH program, you may either visit the agency’s official website online and perform your search or download a request form from the agency’s website, fill it out, and send it, along with the request fee, in a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
SLED Records Department,
P.O. Box 21398,
Columbia, SC 29221
Courts in South Carolina store and maintain such records as warrant information and docket records, and these records are available to members of the public.
You may visit the specific court that issued the warrant to find out more information about warrants.
County Sheriff’s Websites
Anybody can conduct searches on county-specific sheriff's websites. The South Carolina Sheriff's Association maintains a directory with the names, direct contact information, and locations of all the state's sheriff's offices for convenient access.
By using the directory, you may locate outstanding warrants at the appropriate sheriff's office.