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North Carolina Warrant Records

What is a Warrant in North Carolina?

A warrant in North Carolina is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes the police and other law enforcement agents to conduct an activity that would be illegal if done without a warrant. North Carolina warrants permit law enforcement officials to arrest people, search persons and properties, or perform other legal actions.

The North Carolina Judicial Branch issues different kinds of warrants, including bench warrants, arrest warrants, and search warrants. However, per the Fourth Amendment, judges and magistrates can only issue these writs if there is probable cause (sufficient reasons for an arrest or search).

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in North Carolina?

North Carolina residents can find out if they have outstanding warrants by conducting a criminal background check. All that is needed is to contact the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for a criminal background check. Individuals may request in writing to the Criminal Information and Identification Section of the SBI. This process is called "Right to Review." Steps required during this process include:

  • Obtaining a set of one's fingerprints from a nearby law enforcement agency.
  • Paying the required fee of $14 via certified check or money order.
  • Completing the request form.

Alternatively, county clerk offices across North Carolina can help private citizens conduct warrant searches to find outstanding warrants. County sheriffs, like the Rowan County sheriff, can also provide information on outstanding warrants at the county level.

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 North Carolina?

Most warrants in North Carolina stay active until the subject appears in court to face the charges or passes away. Therefore, it is advisable for residents of North Carolina to occasionally run a warrant search to know their warrant status.

One type of warrant that expires is the search warrant, usually after 48 hours have passed from the issuance. Within the 48-hour time frame, the police must execute the warrant, or it stops being active and cannot be used against the subject anymore. However, the court can reissue this warrant if probable cause still exists.

Anyone with an outstanding warrant in North Carolina should hire a lawyer to handle their case and protect their rights. The lawyer can advise on how and when to surrender to prevent an unexpected arrest.

Turning oneself in for an outstanding warrant has its advantages compared to if the police make the arrest. Voluntarily surrendering helps reduce the charges and proves that the subject is not a flight risk.

What is a North Carolina Search Warrant?

A North Carolina search warrant is a court order that directs a law enforcement officer to search a named person, designated premises, or vehicle. The warrant allows the police to legally intrude on a person's property. The primary purpose of a search warrant is to find and seize specific items. Search warrants may be conducted by officers acting within their territorial jurisdiction.

North Carolina General Statutes Article 11, subsection 15A-243 highlights the authorized persons that may issue a search warrant in the state:

Other persons permitted to issue search warrants include:

Applications for search warrants must be in writing upon oath or affirmation. The application must contain the name and title of the applicant, a statement that confirms that there is probable cause for the warrant, facts supporting the statement, and a request for the issuance of the warrant.

A North Carolina search warrant will contain the following information:

  • The issuing official's name and signature.
  • The issuing date and time.
  • The officer that the warrant is addressed to.
  • The premises, persons, or vehicles to be searched.
  • Items to be seized.

After the issuance of the warrant, the search must be conducted within 48 hours. Otherwise, the search warrant becomes void.

Note that law-enforcement officers are obligated to read the warrant and give a copy to the individual to be searched or in charge of the premises or vehicle to be searched.

What Can Make a North Carolina Search Warrant Invalid?

North Carolina search warrants became invalid after 48 hours from the issuing date. In addition, a North Carolina search warrant that does not comply with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution may be rendered invalid by a court. For instance, per the Fourth Amendment, all U.S. citizens are free from unreasonable searches and seizures from the government. As such, any warrant issued without probable cause can be challenged on its merits.

What is an Arrest Warrant in North Carolina?

A North Carolina arrest warrant is a document signed by a judge or magistrate that permits law enforcement officials to arrest a person named in the warrant. Whether the subject is guilty or not, a North Carolina arrest warrant instructs the arresting officers to detain the subject and present them before the court without unnecessary delay.

According to the North Carolina Statutes, section 15A-304, certain conditions must be considered before determining if a person should be taken into custody. These circumstances include:

  • If the subject had previously failed to appear after being summoned
  • If the subject will refuse to appear when summoned
  • If the subject may escape
  • If the subject may inflict injury or harm on a person or property
  • The severity of the offense

Persons who may issue arrest warrants in North Carolina include:

  • A justice of the state's Supreme Court
  • A judge of the state's Superior Court, Court of Appeals, or District Court
  • A court clerk
  • A North Carolina magistrate

The judicial officer must ensure that there is probable cause before issuing the warrant. A North Carolina arrest warrant will contain the following data:

  • Name and other information that can identify the subject
  • The alleged offense
  • Time of arrest
  • Name of issuing judge and date of issuance

What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in North Carolina?

A child support arrest warrant In North Carolina is used to compel non-custodial parents to pay child support. Usually, a hearing is held to allow the non-custodial parent to explain the default. If the court establishes that the parent is capable but refuses to pay, the person can be held in contempt. The punishment for contempt includes suspension of driver's licenses, fines, or jail.

What is a North Carolina Bench Warrant?

A judge issues a North Carolina bench warrant to arrest a person who has failed to comply with a court order or rule. Upon the issuance of a bench warrant, law enforcement agencies have the right to arrest the subject of the warrant and make them face their charges.

The common reasons for issuing a bench warrant include:

  • Failure to pay a fine
  • Absence from court on a scheduled date
  • Failure to obey court orders, including community service and signing up for court-mandated classes

In North Carolina, What is Failure to Appear?

Failure to appear in North Carolina is when an alleged offender misses a scheduled court date. North Carolina considers a failure to appear as a criminal offense, and the persons involved will face penalties in addition to the original offense.

Also, anyone guilty of a failure to appear in North Carolina may have their driver's license revoked by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Defendants who do not appear in court within 20 days of missing the initial scheduled date will be reported to the DMV by the court clerk. After that, the department will revoke the person's license until the case is settled. Whether the failure to appear was addressed before the license revocation or not, the defendant will have to pay a sum of $200. After the case is handled, the person will need to pay an additional $100 before the license can be restored.

Additionally, the presiding judge may dismiss the person's pretrial release order and issue an order for arrest.

How Long Do You Have to Stay in Jail for a Warrant for Missing Court in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, anyone who was formerly released on misdemeanor charges but failed to appear in court has committed a Class 2 misdemeanor. Such a person can incur 30 days to 6 months in jail.

On the other hand, anyone with an underlying felony charge who misses court commits a Class I felony, which may lead to a jail term between 3 to 8 months for a first-time offender.

In North Carolina, What is Failure to Pay?

Failure to pay in North California is a kind of bench warrant that a person may encounter if they fail to pay a court-ordered fine within the stipulated time. Usually, the court always tags a time frame to the payment of a fine. If the person involved does not make payment within the period given, it is a failure to pay.

For instance, anyone who fails to pay a fine within 40 days of a court judgment will be reported to the DMV. (See G.S. 20-24.1 and G.S. 20-24.2.)

What is a No-Knock Warrant in North Carolina?

A no-knock warrant allows law enforcement to break into premises or vehicles without informing the owners, occupants, or persons in charge of the property. North Carolina General Statute 15A-251 makes it legal for officers to break and enter into residences and vehicles when necessary to execute a warrant.

As stated by the law, two situations allow for forcible entry:

  • If the officers had previously announced their presence and established that the occupants denied them entry, they are unreasonably delayed, or the premises or vehicle is not occupied.
  • If the officer reasonably believes that prior notification may endanger someone

No-knock warrants are generally issued to:

  • Avoid the destruction of evidence.
  • Prevent the escape of a suspect.
  • Protect the lives of officers or other individuals.
  • Stop inhabitants from arming themselves against the police.