If you are applying for a job, a loan, education, or a professional license, you may need to pass a background check.  To get your job or the other benefits you’re applying for, you may need to show that you have no convictions or pending charges – but what about warrants?  If there is a warrant out for you, will your employer see it on a background check?  The Baltimore bench warrant lawyers at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice explain what types of warrants there are and which ones might show up on a background check.

Types of Warrants

There are 3 major types of warrants that typically come up in criminal law: search warrants, arrest warrants, and bench warrants.  Search warrants are used to give police the right to search a place and take anything they find there that fits certain search parameters.  Usually, these are used as part of an investigation to search for evidence.  Since they are filed for property and places to be searched, not a particular person, they don’t usually show up in records related to the person.

Arrest warrants effectively do the same thing as bench warrants – they allow police to arrest you – but they do this in different ways for different reasons.  The purpose of a criminal arrest warrant is to bring someone to jail when police, as part of an investigation, have enough evidence to charge them with a crime.  Police must show a judge that they have probable cause to think they have the right defendant, and the judge signs off on the warrant.  These warrants are typically used quickly, and police may be able to show up at the person’s house to arrest them or find them anywhere else (e.g., at work).

Bench warrants are used to arrest people, but for a very different purpose.  Bench warrants are issued by judges on their own, “from the bench,” rather than being issued at a police officer’s request.  These warrants are typically issued when someone fails to appear in court, and the goal of issuing the bench warrant is to get them to come to court and address a matter before the court.  Failure to appear bench warrants are typically issued when you fail to appear in court to address charges against you – which may include something as minor as a stack of unpaid parking tickets or more serious criminal charges like robbery or burglary.  Bench warrants are typically only used to arrest you when police encounter you for another reason, such as during a stop for a traffic offense; police will rarely go to your house to arrest you on a bench warrant.

Will Employers See Bench Warrants on a Background Check?

What an employer or any other party will see on a background check depends heavily on the parameters of their search.  Some employers search only for felony convictions, which means that they will only see criminal events on your record that 1.) resulted in a conviction and 2.) were felony offenses.  This means that misdemeanors, low-level offenses, traffic tickets, dropped charges, dismissed charges, and other criminal events (like warrants) would not appear.

Whether a warrant will appear on a background check also depends on where the person running the check looks.  If they look only at your criminal record, a warrant is unlikely to appear.  A criminal record is a set of convictions and arrests, but it does not include general court records.  Warrants are court documents and, as such, appear on court records.  These records are public, so if the background check includes a court records search for pending charges, warrants, and the status of other cases, the warrant may appear.

Typically, both criminal arrest warrants and bench warrants will appear on these searches, since they are both court records.  If you do have a bench warrant, you are likely already charged with a crime, so the background search may turn up your pending charges whether or not you have a warrant out for you.  With a criminal arrest warrant, you would not have faced arraignment and formal charges yet, so those might not appear yet – but if there is a warrant for your arrest, you may need a criminal defense attorney immediately.

How to Get Rid of a Bench Warrant

One of the best ways to get a bench warrant taken care of is to go to court and address the case.  Judges issue bench warrants primarily for failures to appear in court to face charges against you, which would mean that you should be prepared to face hearings and potential trial when you go to court.  Because of this, it is always vital to speak with an attorney about the charges pending against you and the next steps to take.

If you know that there is a warrant for you, you can typically call the local police or courthouse where the warrant was issued to get more information on it.  If you are worried this might mean facing arrest or further charges, your lawyer can do this for you.  In most cases, courts would rather see defendants appear of their own free will rather than see the government expend the additional resources to arrest you, book you, and hold you in jail.

Call Our Baltimore Lawyer for Help with Your Outstanding Warrants Today

The Law Offices of Randolph Rice represent individuals charged with crimes ranging from drug crimes to theft to murder.  If you have discovered that there is an outstanding warrant against you or you are worried that a background check might show your outstanding warrants, call our Baltimore criminal defense lawyers today to discuss taking care of your warrant and any pending criminal charges you face.  For a free legal consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.