The public has a right to access most state records in Maryland. Although Maryland’s open records laws are better than many states, it’s not always straightforward to find out if you have a criminal warrant for your arrest in Maryland. The police don’t always want people to know they are about to be arrested. There are some good reasons for this. People wanted for serious crimes may go on the run if they know they are facing arrest. Evidence can be concealed or destroyed and witnesses can be intimidated or even harmed.
Maryland criminal defense attorney Randolph Rice explains what you can do if you want to find out if you have a criminal warrant for your arrest in Maryland. Keep reading for more information.
How to Know If You Have a Criminal Warrant for Your Arrest in Maryland
Arrest warrants are issued at the outset of a case. Typically, defendants cannot find arrest warrants or search warrants that allow police access to their property. In many cases, defendants should know a warrant likely exists for their arrest because they failed to keep a court date. The court date was on the summons ordering them to appear at a certain court at a certain time. A copy of the charging document is attached to the summons. A court may order the re-issuance of a summons. Both the summons and the charging document are normally served on defendants by mail or by personal service by a sheriff or another peace officer under the direction of the court.
If you realize you failed to keep the court date on the summons, chances are the court issued a bench warrant for your arrest. Failure to respond to a summons may lead a judge or a commissioner to issue a warrant in the district court. Judges order bench warrants in circuit courts.
Although most defendants are notified of criminal proceedings by a summons, the police may have failed to serve it. In these cases, the defendant is often unaware of the existence of a warrant.
How you can Find a Criminal Warrant for Your Arrest in Maryland
You don’t always know if a warrant has been taken out against you. If the state charged you with a violent offense or another serious crime, a police officer is likely to show up at your door shortly after the issuing of the warrant. People with warrants for lesser offenses in Maryland may not be aware of the trouble they face, particularly if they lost documentation and forgot about a court hearing. If you believe a warrant may exist for your arrest, you should not ignore it.
According to the Maryland Rules of Procedure, 16-1001 through 16-1011, the public has the right to access most records held by the state. Under the Maryland Judiciary case search, you can search for outstanding warrants against you. People seeking case information should click on the ‘person’ option. You can do an exact name search.
It is often important for defendants to find out if a warrant exists for their arrest without identifying themselves. This gives them a chance to seek legal counsel and talk about their options.
How to Find Out Anonymously If You Have a Criminal Warrant for Your Arrest in Maryland
Use the Maryland judiciary case search system: If you use the online system you don’t have to enter identifying information like your social security number. You can also get a friend or a family member to search for you.
Use a commercial site: Many third-party commercial websites collect a wide range of data about people including warrant information. You can buy their reports but there is no guarantee they will be accurate. Using a private site can lull you into a false sense of security if the site failed to list details of a warrant.
Contact a Court Clerk: If you can’t locate information on an official database but believe a judge or a commissioner issued an arrest warrant, try calling the court clerk directly. It’s possible to maintain anonymity by asking if there are any outstanding warrants under a certain name without answering any questions about your identity. The state’s official court website provides information including telephone numbers for courts. You should know the jurisdiction a warrant was issued in and whether it was in a district or a circuit court. You should be aware the court or police could trace the number you call on. If you think a federal warrant is outstanding, contact the federal court for your district.
Send a Friend to Use a Public Access Terminal at a Court: Most courts offer public access terminals that allow you to search court records. Although courts will not check your identity, there is a risk of being identified by a police officer or a court official if a warrant has been issued for your arrest. It’s more prudent to send a family member or a friend to the court to carry out a check. Your friend or family member is not required by law to give information about you.
Work with a lawyer: You should consider working with a Maryland criminal defense lawyer if you have a well-founded belief a warrant exists for your arrest. An attorney can anonymously conduct a search for you. Any work that a lawyer does on your behalf, such as contacting the clerk at the courthouse or a police department is protected by the attorney/client privilege. This means an attorney cannot give your information away to a police officer even if the lawyer’s questions make the police suspicious.
Will a Record Exist of an Arrest Warrant in Maryland?
You won’t always find an arrest warrant by going online or talking to the clerk of court. Only warrants issued after a criminal case is underway in court by way of indictment or previous arrest and processing of the defendant can be found. Arrest warrants are not usually a public record if the defendant is yet to be charged. Charges are usually prepared by the police, and a warrant is then issued for arrest.
Can Bench Warrants Be Found in Maryland?
Yes. Bench warrants are the most common type of warrant issued by courts in Maryland. Bench warrants are typically issued when a defendant fails to appear for a hearing in a criminal court. Failure to show up at any mandatory court date usually leads to the issuing of a bench warrant.
You can usually find out on databases whether a bench warrant is outstanding against you. The seriousness of the offense is not usually relevant unless the issue is a minor traffic citation. A judge also often issues bench warrants for disobeying a subpoena ordering you to testify in a case, violating your probation, or failing to pay court-ordered child support.
Talk to Maryland Arrest Warrant Lawyer Randolph Rice Today
Having a criminal warrant for your arrest is a serious matter in Maryland. It makes sense to hire an experienced Maryland criminal warrant attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our Maryland criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience in fighting warrants and getting them withdrawn. Call us as soon as possible at (410) 834-3803.