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North Carolina Warrant Search

North Carolina warrants are legal documents authorizing law enforcement officers to perform an act of justice, such as an arrest or a search to locate criminal evidence. Per the Fourth Amendment, an authorized judicial officer may only issue a warrant upon evidence, oath, or affirmation that probable cause exists. This policy protects citizen interests and restricts law enforcement officers from performing arbitrary searches, seizures, or arrests. 

A warrant search is an essential component of background investigations, enabling citizens to identify wanted persons and stay safe in the community. Beyond this, a person can also search for active or outstanding warrants in their names to ensure legal due diligence and mitigate the risk of an arrest, say, at a routine traffic stop. A warrant search may reveal personal identifying information about the subject, their alleged offense, the assigned agency, warrant type, and warrant number.

Members of the public can obtain warrant information from any North Carolina local law enforcement agency authorized to execute and return warrants to the state courts. Warrants are also maintained as part of North Carolina criminal court records and featured within the subject's arrest records.

Are Warrants Public Records in North Carolina?

Yes. North Carolina warrants are disclosed to the public under the North Carolina Public Records Law. This open records policy allows interested individuals to inspect and reproduce copies of materials generated and maintained by state-funded agencies, such as law enforcement bodies and the courts. 

However, N.C.G.S. § 132‑1.4 (k) affirms the withdrawal of specific warrant records from public perusal, including records related to ongoing criminal investigations, sealed arrest and search warrants, and juvenile information.

Types of Warrants in North Carolina

North Carolina issues the following warrant types: 

Search Warrants: A search warrant permits law enforcement officers to search a property or residence for criminal evidence.

Arrest Warrants: An arrest warrant directs law enforcement officers to seize and detain someone alleged to have violated the law. 

Bench Warrants: A judge may release a bench warrant for the arrest of an individual who refuses to comply with a court order or summons. This includes failure to pay court fines, complete community service, appear in court, or attend court-mandated programs.

DNA Warrant: This court order authorizes law enforcement officers to collect DNA samples (usually a swab of saliva, blood sample, or mucus) from individuals involved in a criminal proceeding or investigation.

Administrative Search and Inspection Warrants: A magistrate, clerk, or deputy clerk may issue an administrative search and inspection warrant to inspect a property. Per the law, anyone requesting an administrative warrant in North Carolina must prove that the search or inspection is legally authorized. Such warrants bear the issuing authority's signature, issuance date, and an accurate description of the property to be searched or inspected.

Administrative warrants are only valid for 24 hours after issuance in North Carolina.

Warrant to Take Physical Custody of a Child: The court issues this warrant upon probable cause that a child may be exposed to immediate physical harm or abduction. The warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child and arrange placement for the child pending final relief. 

Governor's Warrant: This warrant authorizes peace officers to arrest and hand over fugitives who fled a state to avoid prosecution.

What is a Search Warrant in North Carolina?

North Carolina search warrants are issued and executed per N.C.G.S. § 15A‑241. A search warrant is a court order and process empowering law enforcement officers to search a specified location, property, vehicle, or person to seize evidence and bring it to the court. The warrant can be approved by a justice of the supreme court, judge, magistrate, or court clerk.

Generally, search warrants are issued if probable cause exists that a property was stolen or embezzled, is illegally possessed, constitutes evidence of a criminal offense or reveals a criminal suspect, or has been used to commit or conceal a crime. 

Law enforcement officers requesting search warrants in North Carolina must submit a written application to the court, attesting to the facts or circumstances that necessitate the search (i.e., probable cause). If the court finds the evidence provided sufficient, an authorized judicial officer will issue the warrant. The warrant carries the following details: 

  • The issuing authority's name and signature
  • Issuance date and time
  • Name of the executing officer or class of officers
  • Names of the affiant and all persons whose testimonies or affidavits supported the search warrant application
  • The designated property, item, or person be searched 
  • The specific object to be seized. 

North Carolina search warrants are valid for 48 hours. Search warrants not executed within the time frame are void, marked "unexecuted," and returned to the issuing court.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

There is no deadline for issuing a search warrant in North Carolina. Per N.C.G.S. § 15A‑242, a court may only issue a search warrant when probable cause is established. The requesting officer is responsible for proving the necessity of the warrant. 

What is an Arrest Warrant in North Carolina?

A North Carolina arrest warrant authorizes a person's apprehension and detainment due to a criminal offense. Per N.C.G.S. § 15A-304, arrest warrants state the crime for which the suspect is to be arrested and include an order for the suspect to be brought before a judicial official without delay to answer to the charges made against them.

Judicial officials only issue an arrest warrant when the sum of facts and circumstances lead to a reasonable belief that an office occurred and an individual committed it. For the warrant to be issued, a police officer must present an affidavit or oral testimony under oath or affirmation before the court.

Arrest warrants do not establish a person's guilt for the stated crime. They are a legal means for administering justice. An arrest warrant will feature the arrestee's name, birth date, race, address, and arrest location where necessary.

Arrest Warrant Lookup in North Carolina

Interested persons may explore the following options to look up active or outstanding arrest warrants in North Carolina.

Local Law Enforcement

Local law enforcement agencies typically maintain warrants issued in their jurisdictions. Thus, anyone who wants to find an arrest warrant in North Carolina can visit or call the warrants division of a local sheriff's office or police department. Contact details and in-person request procedures are typically available on an agency's website. 

Some sheriff's offices also provide an online portal for viewing active warrants, which include a subject's name and physical characteristics, the alleged charge, and warrant type. For example, the Union County Sheriff's Office has an online warrant information listing. The office also maintains a Most Wanted Fugitives database. Likewise, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office provides a warrant inquiry database.

Office of the Clerk of Court 

Court clerks are legally authorized to maintain active and returned warrant records issued by the court. Individuals may visit the clerk of the issuing court's office to obtain warrant information. 

Local courts also maintain self-service terminals for public case records inquiries, including inquiries to find out if a warrant was issued for a case. These terminals are free to access. 

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in North Carolina

Anyone who wants to find out if they have an active or outstanding warrant in North Carolina must first determine the warrant type issued. Knowing the warrant type directs the search process by informing where one may submit a request.

Search and Arrest Warrants

One may find search and arrest warrants through the local sheriff or police department in charge of executing the warrant. Many departments provide information at their physical offices and, sometimes, via phone. Some offices also furnish remote access via a warrant search/inquiry portal, such as the Greenville Police Department's outstanding warrants web page

Where warrant records cannot be obtained without directly contacting a police agency, one may enlist an attorney to inquire on their behalf. 

Individuals may also visit the issuing court to search for warrants in an open case.

Warrants for Physical Custody of Child

County sheriff's offices and the Family and Children Court typically maintain warrant information from child custody matters. Interested persons may contact or visit these agencies for such warrant inquiries.

Administrative Search and Inspection Warrants

Interested persons may contact the issuing court clerk's office to confirm the existence of an administrative search warrant. 

Free Warrant Search in North Carolina

Warrant searches in North Carolina are free of charge when conducted on a local law enforcement website. One can also visit a police agency to check for outstanding warrants. 

An alternative free option is to query the issuing court clerk's office for warrant information in open cases. Generally, these searches require a subject's name and date of birth or the case number. 

However, inquirers may pay a nominal fee to acquire copies of records.

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

Besides searching government-run databases, individuals can also utilize third-party aggregator websites to determine if someone has a warrant in North Carolina online. As is typical of online searches, users need at least a last name to retrieve a match from a third-party site. However, a fee may be charged to access the warrant record. 

It is important to mention that online warrant information should not be relied upon to make an arrest or for any other legal action.

How Long Do Warrants Last in North Carolina?

The validity of warrants issued in North Carolina varies. Criminal search warrants remain valid for 48 hours, whereas administrative search and inspection warrants stay active for 24 hours. 

Meanwhile, arrest warrants last indefinitely and are only deemed executed upon a subject's arrest. However, the court may recall a warrant if the subject dies or probable cause for the arrest no longer exists.

North Carolina Warrant Search
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!