People are issued warrants for any number of reasons: a dispute or altercation with other members of their community, or an infraction against the state.
Whatever your offense is, it’s probably best to trust your instincts and perform a warrant search whenever you suspect that you may be the subject of a warrant in Virginia.
Whether you want to make sure that you’re in the clear, or you want to find out more about a person’s background, warrants are not difficult to find in Virginia, as long as you follow the right processes.
These processes will be explained in depth in this article.
What You Need to Know About Warrants in Virginia
A person's rights are fundamentally violated when they are detained, searched, or have their belongings taken.
A warrant must be obtained from a grand jury or impartial judge to carry out any of these actions.
This is the only legal way to do so. A warrant is a recognized legal document that gives law enforcement agents the right to detain a person suspected of breaking the law or search their home for evidence of a crime.
Any law enforcement officer in Virginia may enforce an active warrant, and warrants issued there are valid throughout the entire state.
In Virginia, judges can only sign and issue warrants based on complaints filed by law enforcement agents.
In cases where civilians submit complaints without the presence or contribution of an officer of the law, a summons will be issued instead of warrants.
Law enforcement agents bringing up the complaint must demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to suspect the accused of committing a crime before a judge or grand jury authorizes an arrest warrant.
This is referred to as probable cause, and it is a crucial prerequisite for Virginia courts to issue warrants.
Types of Warrants in Virginia
In general, state courts in the state of Virginia often issue one of three different forms of warrants.
These include search warrants, bench warrants, and warrants for arrest.
Virginia arrest Warrants
State courts in Virginia issue arrest warrants at the request of law enforcement officials.
These warrants give law enforcement officers the right to detain people who are being investigated for crimes.
Arrest warrants, like search warrants, need officers to file the complaint to establish probable cause for the judge to sign them.
Law enforcement officials are authorized to visit the offender's home or place of business without prior notice, arrest them, and take them into custody when an arrest warrant is served.
Arrest warrants are often issued without the subjects' knowledge.
Virginia Search Warrants
Law enforcement officials may get a search warrant from a judge in order to legally search or confiscate property if they believe it is being used for criminal activity.
Then, such property might be used as proof at the subsequent trial. Law enforcement agents are not allowed to conduct searches beyond the area that is indicated in the search warrant, which must also identify the place or property that will be searched.
Search warrants will only be issued by the courts in Virginia if the law enforcement officer leading the investigation establishes probable cause.
Virginia Bench Warrants
Unlike the other two, judges can issue bench warrants at their own discretion, and there’s no need for probable cause to be established.
Bench warrants are given to offenders who are found to be in disobedience of court orders, who miss their court date, and who don't pay their child support obligations.
Because law enforcement officials frequently do not immediately pursue such individuals, someone can be the subject of an active bench warrant without being aware of it.
Finding Warrants in Virginia
There are quite a few ways for interested individuals to find warrants for themselves and third parties in Virginia. These are some of the options open to you:
The Virginia State Police
As an individual or as a corporate entity, you may access crime history data, including active warrants, through the Virginia State Police database.
If you’re interested in obtaining active warrants this way, you must fill out the SP-167 (for individuals or private establishments) or SP-230 (for select employers) on the VSP website.
Next, you’ll need to notarize the form and send it to:
The Department of State Police,
P.O. Box 85067,
Richmond, VA 23261-5076.
Each warrant search request attracts a fee of $15. If your search requires fingerprint cards, an additional $13 is charged.
Virginia Local Police Departments
You may be able to access warrant information on the websites of county sheriff’s offices or local police departments.
Quite a few of these departments provide most wanted lists on their websites, and some, such as The City of Virginia Beach, provide online warrant search tools.
The Virginia Judicial System
If you’re looking for outstanding warrants related to a case involving you or someone you know, you can find them with the case record search tool on the website of the Virginia Judicial System.