Do Warrants Show Up On Background Checks?

One of your biggest concerns, when you have a warrant issued to your name, is its effect on your pending job, rent, or credit line application. If you have an outstanding warrant, you should know what to do so you can address it properly and hopefully keep your life on track.

In this blog post, we’ll go over warrants and background checks to help you understand how they work and what you can do to resolve an outstanding warrant.

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What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a legal document that gives law enforcement the authority to arrest, search, or seize property from an individual.

A judge or magistrate typically issues warrants after law enforcement presents evidence that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

Warrants are generally public records, meaning they can appear on background checks for employment, housing, or credit applications.

Types of Warrants that Can be Issued

Just to be straightforward about it, warrants don’t just disappear. They stay on your record until you deal with them.

It is why it’s always best to take care of warrants as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the less chance of them popping up at an inopportune time.

There are different kinds of warrants that can be issued:

Civil Warrant

A civil warrant is issued by a judge when someone fails to follow a court order. The most common reason for civil warrants is the failure to pay child support.

Civil warrants appear in court records, so they may appear on background checks. However, it’s unlikely that a standard criminal record check will reveal it because civil warrants are not criminal cases. Unlike criminal warrants, civil warrants do not involve any crime.

Bench Warrant

Bench warrants are public records so that they will appear on a criminal background check. A bench warrant is issued by a judge when someone doesn’t appear for a scheduled court appearance.

If you have a bench warrant, the court has ordered your arrest.

Arrest Warrant

An arrest warrant is issued when there is probable cause to believe someone has committed a crime. It allows law enforcement to arrest the person named on the warrant.

Arrest warrants are public records so that they will appear on criminal background checks.

Search Warrant

A judge serves a search warrant when there is probable cause to believe that someone has committed a crime and that evidence of that crime can be found at a particular location.

Search warrants are not public records, so they will not appear on criminal background checks.

Traffic Warrant

A person gets a traffic warrant when he doesn’t pay his ticket. Traffic warrants are public records so that they may appear on criminal background checks.

Still, it’s unlikely they will appear in a standard criminal background check because traffic warrants are not considered criminal cases.

What Happens if You Have a Warrant?

If you have a warrant, law enforcement may arrest you anytime and anywhere. You may be arrested even if you did not commit the crime.

If you think there might be a warrant out for your arrest, the best thing to do is to seek legal help. An attorney can help you determine if there is a warrant and, if there is, can help you take care of it.

Address the warrants as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the greater the chance you will be arrested.

What Happens After a Warrant is Issued?

Once there is an issued warrant, it becomes active immediately. Law enforcement can then take whatever action is authorized by the warrant, such as making an arrest or conducting a search.

Depending on the type of warrant, there may be certain restrictions on when and how it can be executed. For example, an arrest warrant must be served during daylight hours unless extenuating circumstances exist.

Since most employers will conduct a background check as part of their hiring process, it usually involves running a criminal record check, including checking credit reports and verifying employment history. It permits them to conduct a more thorough investigation.

If an employer finds something in an applicant’s background that raises concerns, they may ask for a warrant to be issued.

The warrant may sometimes allow the employer to access sealed or expunged records. Once the investigation is complete, the employer will decide whether or not to hire the applicant.

Depending on the background check results, this decision may be based solely on the information found in the applicant’s background. It may also consider other factors, such as the offense’s severity and length.

How Long Does a Warrant Stay Active?

In most cases, warrants do not have an expiration date. The warrant will remain in effect until it is served or recalled by the court.

However, there are some circumstances in which a warrant may become inactive. For example, if the person named in the warrant moves to another state, the warrant may no longer be valid.

Warrants can also be canceled if the charges against the individual are dropped, or they are found not guilty. Therefore, if you have a warrant out for your arrest, you must contact an attorney to discuss your options and ensure that the warrant is still active.      

Can You Pass a Background Check with a Warrant?

If you have a warrant out for your arrest, likely, you will not pass a background check. Warrants are public records, and most background checks will include a search of public records.

Even if the warrant is for a minor offense, it will still appear on your background check and could cause problems. For example, many employers will not hire someone with an active warrant, and landlords may refuse to rent to someone with a warrant on their record.

If you have a warrant, the best thing to do is to take care of it as soon as possible. Once the warrant is cleared from your record, you should be able to pass a background check without any problems.


Warrants appear on state and national background checks, so if you have an active warrant, it will likely show up on any background check conducted on you.

Warrants do not have an expiration date and remain active until they are carried out or recalled by the issuing authority.

If you have an outstanding warrant, address it before applying for jobs or renting homes to avoid its negative consequences.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.