Last Updated: May 9, 2022

What is a warrant?

A warrant is a court order allowing the police to arrest a person. If you have outstanding warrants, you can be arrested at any time. Warrants can prevent you from getting a driver’s license, or from getting certain government benefits such as food stamps or health care.

When is a warrant issued?

A warrant may be issued if you:

  1. have been charged with a serious felony
  2. missed a court date in a criminal case
  3. violated Department of Corrections supervision requirements
  4. failed to pay child support.

How can I find out about my outstanding warrants?

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one place where you can check for all warrants. Dependent on the type of warrant, you may want to:

  1. contact the court that issued the warrant (if you do not know the court, think about where the alleged crime happened and contact courts in that city or county)
  2. search the Judicial Information System (JIS) either by using a terminal at the courthouse or by contacting court staff or a public defender
  3. search your criminal record
  4. contact the Division of Child Support
  5. contact the Department of Corrections.

How can I find out about warrants in other states?

If you know the court that issued the warrant, contact that court. If you don’t know the court that issued the warrant, you can ask the FBI to run a background check using your fingerprints to get a list of all of your cases across the country. You can then use that to contact the court for each case to see if you have any warrants. Instructions to request an FBI background check.

What if I have outstanding warrants in multiple counties?

Many counties have agreements that people arrested in one place will be transported to counties where there is an outstanding warrant. This is a complicated problem and can result in spending a lot of time in jail. If you have warrants outstanding in multiple places, contact Open Door Legal Services at 206-682-4642.

What does it mean to “quash” a warrant?

Quashing a warrant means getting it removed from the system so that it can’t be used to arrest you. Quashing a warrant only deals with the warrant itself; it does not resolve the underlying case. For example, if you have a warrant for failing to pay child support, you may have the warrant quashed, but you will still need to deal with your child support obligations.

To quash a warrant, you can pay the bail, post a bond, go to a “quash calendar” or file a motion to quash.

What is the difference between paying bail and posting a bond?

A warrant usually has a bail amount on it. If you pay that amount to the court, the clerk will quash the warrant and give you a new court date. If you don’t have money to pay the full bail, you can hire a bonding agent to post a bond for you, which usually costs 10% of the bail amount. Bond agents charge different rates so you should shop for the best rate.

What is the difference between the quash calendar and filing a motion to quash?

For minor warrants, many courts have a system to quash warrants without requiring a person to post bail. To get on the quash calendar, you should contact the court, ask to be added to the calendar and then show up at the scheduled time to tell the judge why you think the warrant should be quashed. If the court doesn’t have a quash calendar, you can file a motion with the court instead.

It is important to know that if the judge doesn’t agree with your arguments for quashing the warrant, it is possible that you could be arrested so you should try to talk to a public defender before getting on a quash calendar or filing a motion. And before going to court, make sure you know about all of your warrants—the last thing you want is to go to court to quash one warrant only to be arrested on a different warrant.

What should I expect at the hearing?

Every court and hearing is different, but there are a few general things to expect. If the warrant was issued because you missed a court date, you will have to explain why you missed it. If the court quashes your warrant, but you miss another hearing, a new warrant will be issued and the court will be less likely to quash another warrant.

You should bring evidence to your hearing to show the court all of the good things you are doing, such as letters from counselors or case managers and pay stubs showing you have a job.

Remember that quashing a warrant does not resolve the underlying case. If you have been charged with a crime in the underlying case, but have not yet been convicted, you will have to decide whether you want to go to trial or plead guilty. It is important to talk to a lawyer before making this decision so that you know all of your options.


The information on this website is not legal advice. You should not and are not authorized to rely on this website as a source of legal advice. While Civil Survival goes to great lengths to make sure the information on the website is accurate, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of this website. We recommend that you consult with an attorney for assurance that the information on the website and your interpretation of it are appropriate for your situation.

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