Do Hotels Check For Active Warrants?

Check For Active Warrants

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If you have one or more outstanding warrants in your name but want to spend some time winding down in a hotel it can leave you anxious not knowing if the hotel will know you have a warrant.

The only way a hotel can check if you have an active warrant is to run a background check on you, which is very unlikely.

However, most hotels don’t do background checks on guests as it would be too expensive and time-consuming to get a full report on everybody who checks in – not to mention time-consuming!

This means that generally speaking, hotels have no way of checking for active warrants but they can still contact the police if a guest is acting suspiciously. If hotel staff recognize someone as on the run from news reports, or see guests acting suspicious while staying at a hotel, they may very well contact the police.

The hotel can give a name which the police can then run a criminal check on to look for any potential pings on their system.

How Often Do Police Check Hotels for Warrants?

There isn’t a definitive answer when it comes to finding out how often police officers search hotels for warrants. Generally speaking, this type of “blind fishing” to catch someone isn’t a thing.

In some states it’s even possibly illegal unless the police can prove they had probable cause for believing someone with a warrant was at the hotel. Beyond that, law enforcement doesn’t disclose their methods of searching and finding suspects, as it would help them get away. 

If the police have a search warrant for a hotel that could result in a raid, but that’s again usually because of solid evidence tracking someone down or against long-term tenants or the hotel itself.

The type of warrant will also make a big difference. If someone is all over the news for serious crimes, that is a high-priority search in an area. If it’s a few too many speeding tickets from three states over several years ago, it’s not likely to come up unless that person is pulled over.

The reputation of the hotel can also play a big role when it comes to officers deciding how often they’ll pay a visit in the hopes of picking someone up with a warrant.

If certain hotels are known to be drug or crime hotspots then there’s a good chance police might go snooping around to find suspects. 

Are All Warrants Checked?

Not all warrants are the same, some might be more serious than others. Let’s look at the three most common types of warrants and if they’re all checked for by hotels when checking in.

Bench Warrants

A bench warrant is issued by the court. These are usually given when you’re due to arrive in court but don’t show up. This means you should have been on the bench in court but didn’t appear, hence the name bench warrant. 

They are the least serious type of warrant and therefore it’s extremely unlikely the police are going to go searching in hotels for you as you probably haven’t committed a crime that’s worth the time and resources.

Arrest Warrants

Next up are arrest warrants. They are issued by the court and gives law enforcement the authorization to arrest you whenever and wherever. The severity of these can differ for example not paying child support, or the other end of the spectrum such as committing assault or murder.

It makes more sense for the police to search hotels for those who have arrest warrants due to more serious crimes, however, keep in mind that hotels aren’t connected to law enforcement resources.

Unless they have a reason to call the police, who then run your ID, it’s very unlikely in most cases these will be found during check-in. Especially at hotels where payments are accepted in cash.

Alias Warrants

An alias warrant is when you fail to attend your scheduled court date before a plea has been entered. They can also be issued when you fail to respond to a citation. 

Similar to bench warrants, alias warrants are issued for things like signing a traffic citation and not showing up in court and therefore they aren’t very serious in comparison. However, they can still get you arrested.

Generally speaking, police aren’t going to search for hotel guests that have alias warrants out for them. When they do conduct warrant checks, it’s in pursuit of more serious crimes.

Can A Hotel Owner Allow The Police To Search a Customer’s Room?

Police Search a Customers Room

Hotel management, except in the shadiest of situations, is likely to always want to work with police departments and maintain a good relationship. This is because hotel management is concerned with guest safety and wants to know they’ll get a friendly response if/when a major issue comes up.

A hotel room is a private business so if for some reason the owners or on-shift workers don’t want to cooperate, then unless the police have a valid search warrant from a judge or hear something that allows them to act (exigent circumstances) without one like screaming, gun shots, or anything in that realm.

If law enforcement has a warrant or the hotel workers allow it, your room is getting searched. Whether that holds up in court will depend on a variety of circumstances. 

Can You Rent a Hotel Room with a Warrant?

It depends on a few different factors such as the type of warrant you have, whether or not the hotel does background checks on their guests, and the quality of hotel. 

Most hotels generally don’t run background checks and if they’re a place that commonly accepts cash, you shouldn’t have any trouble renting a hotel room regardless of what warrant you have because they won’t know about it.

However, if they do run background checks then there’s a chance you’ll be denied access depending on the severity of your warrant. 

What Type of Hotels Are More Often Checked for Warrants?

There isn’t really a definitive answer on which type of hotels are more often checked for warrants.

A very safe basic answer is shady long-stay hotels in high-crime areas are most likely to see a high frequency of police checks while relatively nice (but not top notch) hotels generally won’t see many at all.

In situations like this, you have to look at it logically. Cheaper hotels and motels probably aren’t going to check for warrants but if they are in high-crime areas you’re more likely to run into police.

Background checks take time and most hotels aren’t invested enough. Add in that hotels often want to get guests checked in quickly, and that doesn’t encourage them to make things difficult.

If you wonder how often police check hotels the answer is that without a warrant it’s actually a really rare occurrence.

However, very high end hotels might do a more extensive background check to protect guests – though they still won’t have access to law enforcement databases. 

Staying at Hotels with a Warrant: Final Thoughts

Check For Active Warrants

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Hotels generally won’t check for warrants as it’s just too impractical because they would have to run a background check on all guests.

What they can do, however, is contact the police if the person is acting suspiciously. The police will then be able to use that person’s information and confirm if they have a warrant or not.

If you have a warrant that is active and in your name the best thing to do is get things resolved so you can live a stress-free life and not have to worry about the police when checking into a hotel.

While there are many examples of someone who had a warrant out on them staying in a hotel without incident, it’s just best to resolve everything if you can.

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.