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Virginia Warrant Records

What is a Warrant in Virginia?

A warrant in Virginia is an official document issued by a state court that directs police officers to apprehend an individual or search someone's property to find evidence. Judges and clerks of the state's juvenile and domestic relations courts, district courts, or circuit courts have the authority to issue a warrant.

Usually, warrants are issued based on complaints submitted by law enforcement officers. However, for the court to issue a warrant, the requesting officer must show probable cause that the action to be taken (the arrest, search, or seizure) is justified. The court can also issue a warrant at its discretion in cases where a court order was disregarded.

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Virginia?

Individuals with ongoing court cases in Virginia can find warrants from their cases by checking case records. Warrant information is available on request at the court handling the case. Also, the Virginia Judicial System provides a case record search tool on its site. Using the tool, people can find outstanding warrants related to a case.

Alternatively, individuals with warrant information from the Virginia State Police or a local sheriff's office can request a criminal record check by completing and submitting an online request form.

County police departments or sheriff's offices also make warrant information available on their websites or at their physical offices. For instance, the Roanoke County police department maintains an up-to-date outstanding warrant list on its site. The City of Virginia Beach also provides an online warrant search tool to find active warrants within its jurisdiction.

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 Virginia?

A warrant stays active in Virginia until the court recalls it. However, there is no specific period that must pass for a warrant to be quashed in the state. As such, law enforcement officers can apprehend a person if the warrant remains active, regardless of the number of years since its issuance.

Notwithstanding, the Code of Virginia allows courts to quash felony warrants unexecuted within seven years or misdemeanor warrants unexecuted within three years. This provision typically applies when the subject of the warrant is deceased, or it is a case of mistaken identity.

What is a Virginia Search Warrant?

A Virginia search warrant is an official document issued by the court for searching specified locations, individuals, or items. A judge or magistrate can issue this warrant if they find probable cause in the affidavit submitted by the law enforcement officer to obtain the warrant.

When issued, the warrant will contain:

  • The name of the affiant
  • The identity of the subject of the warrant and their offense
  • The name or description of the location
  • Description of the individual or property to be seized
  • The probable course found by the judge or magistrate

Law enforcement officers must execute Virginia search warrants within 15 days of the issuing date. Any warrant that remains unexecuted past this period becomes void and must be returned to the issuing authority. In Virginia, the police can only execute warrants from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. unless a judge grants execution outside this period.

Per the law, police officers can seize or search the following with a search warrant:

  • Arms and other items used to commit a criminal offense.
  • Items prohibited from sale or ownership by the law.
  • Property that was stolen or gained from a crime
  • Any equipment or object, including documents and body fluids, that can stand as evidence of a crime.
  • Any individual whose name is on an arrest warrant.

When executing a search warrant search, officers must provide the occupant(s) with a copy of the search warrant. In the absence of the occupants, the police must leave the copy of the search warrant in a conspicuous location within the search area.

What Can Make a Virginia Search Warrant Invalid?

A Virginia search warrant is invalid if there is no probable cause for issuing and executing it. Police officers must also ensure they perform the search lawfully or the warrant is invalid. An illegal search can cause evidence to be inadmissible in court. It can also lead to the dismissal of a case.

What is an Arrest Warrant in Virginia?

An arrest warrant in Virginia allows law enforcement to apprehend an individual for a criminal offense. It is the duty of a judge or court clerk to issue arrest warrants. Law officers can seek an arrest warrant from the court if authorized by the district attorney for Virginia. However, an exception is if the officer requests a warrant to apprehend someone suspected of aggravated murder.

The issuing judge or clerk usually directs an arrest warrant to a county or city sheriff's office or police department within their jurisdiction. Upon a subject's arrest, the police can bring the individual to a court in the jurisdiction of the arrest or detain the individual in the county or city where they will be tried.

What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in Virginia?

A child support arrest warrant in Virginia is an enforcement method used by the court to punish individuals who evade or neglect their child support obligations. When someone fails to obey a child support order, the court may require the person to attend a hearing. If the parent refuses to appear, the court may find them in contempt and issue a bench warrant for their arrest, known as a child support warrant.

When apprehended on a child support warrant, a parent may be punished with a jail term of up to a year, fines, or community service.

What is a Virginia Bench Warrant?

A Virginia bench warrant is issued to apprehend individuals who disobeyed a court order (e.g., probation violation). Unlike other warrants, the court can issue this warrant solely at its discretion.

In the Commonwealth, bench warrants are commonly issued for the failure to attend a scheduled court hearing. Upon receipt of a bench warrant notice or discovering it through a Virginia warrant search, it is advisable to visit the court immediately to recall it and prevent an unexpected arrest.

In Virginia, What is Failure to Appear?

In Virginia, a failure to appear occurs when a person skips their court date or violates pre-trial conditions (like not showing up after posting bail). A judge or magistrate can issue a failure to appear warrant that authorizes the arrest of such persons.

In traffic or criminal misdemeanor cases, the court can conduct the trial without the absent defendant and find them guilty. However, such defendants can file an appeal at a district court within ten days or a motion to retry the case within two months.

Failure to appear can either be a class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony in Virginia, and it further aggravates the penalties faced for the original charges. Offenders can also incur a fine of up to $2,500.

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

The category of a criminal charge determines how long a person will stay in jail for a warrant issued for missing court in Virginia. Following Section 19.2-128 of the Virginia Code, the penalties for missing a court date include a jail sentence and a fine. However, the court may spare individuals who show good cause for being absent.

Individuals charged with a felony and who missed their court date will face up to 5 years imprisonment. If the original charge was a misdemeanor, the offender could stay in jail for up to 12 months.

In Virginia, What is Failure to Pay?

Per Section 19.2-354 of the Virginia Code, a failure to pay occurs when the court orders someone guilty of a traffic offense or any other violation to pay a fine, and that person fails to make the payment. Individuals who fail to pay court-ordered fines for a traffic infraction can have their driving privileges suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If the defendant cannot pay within 90 days of the court order, the court may assess a one-time fee of up to $10.

What is a No-Knock Warrant in Virginia?

Virginia is one of the U.S states that prohibit no-knock warrants. Ordinarily, a no-knock warrant excuses police officers from announcing their presence during the execution of search warrants. However, this is unlawful in Virginia as, per state law, officers must be recognizable as the police and give audible notice of their arrival and purpose.