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Colorado Warrant Search

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Are Warrants Public Records in Colorado

According to Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure, 41(b), warrants are public records unless the court orders otherwise. However, there are some instances where a warrant may not be made public. If it involves an ongoing investigation or if the court deems that publicizing the warrant could compromise the safety of the individual involved. Juvenile and bench warrants are also considered confidential records. Warrant information will typically be made available to the public after it has been executed by the state. Usually, warrants are held along with other judicial records in state and local courts or maintained by law enforcement agencies as part of Colorado criminal records.

What is Considered a Warrant in Colorado?

A warrant in Colorado is a court document that authorizes law enforcement officers to perform an act that has become necessary because of a criminal investigation or court proceeding.

For a warrant to be issued in the state, it must have the signature of a judge and be based on "probable cause" (reasonable belief - through evidence, observation, facts - that a person committed an offense or disregarded a court order). The warrant must be acquired and executed according to the law - or else it will be a violation of the rights and freedoms given to citizens of the state. The Colorado courts issue warrants for several reasons. Often, it is to place a person in police custody or search and seize their property because of their involvement in a crime or failure to obey a court order.

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Colorado

The most effective way to discover an active warrant in Colorado is to run a Colorado warrant search. This search can be done remotely from one's computer or phone.

The first place to check is a local sheriff's website. Some sheriffs, e.g., the Weld County and Adams County sheriff offices, provide online warrant searches for residents. Typically, a person will need to provide a first name, last name, and date of birth to find warrant information. Results from the search may include:

  • The warrant subject's full name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Sex, race, height, weight, hair color, and eye color
  • Warrant number
  • Warrant type
  • Docket number
  • Original charge
  • Crime type
  • Issue date
  • Issuing agency
  • Bond amount
  • Bond type
  • Entry date of the warrant

When this information cannot be found on the sheriff's website, the next step is to check a court's website, since it is the court that holds the power to issue a warrant. For instance, the Denver County Court has a warrant search feature on its official site. However, it may be tedious to comb through each court site in a county to find a warrant when the issuing court is unknown. Therefore, the interested party may run a statewide search with tools provided by the Colorado Judiciary.

Alternatively, the individual can contact the warrants unit of a sheriff's department or make in-person inquiries at a court location.

Records of warrants issued or executed in various jurisdictions are also maintained 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 Colorado?

Most warrants never expire. These writs stay active forever and can complicate a person's life and limit their access to opportunities if left unresolved.

Generally, there are only three ways to get rid of a warrant: surrender, arrest, or recall by a judge. Persons who turn themselves in voluntarily, instead of being dragged in by the police, will often avoid physical arrest and jail time. Also, depending on the gravity of the original offense, the court may allow release with or without bail.

Anyone with an outstanding warrant should seek out a criminal defense lawyer to protect their rights in court.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Warrant in Colorado

It can take hours to several days, depending on the complexity of the case or the type of warrant being requested for. The law enforcement officer or agent must present probable cause that the crime has been committed and request a search warrant from a judge or magistrate.

What is a Colorado Search Warrant?

A Colorado search warrant enables the police to enter a property or location without a person's consent to find evidence of criminal activity. Any state judge can issue this warrant. Like other warrant types, the law enforcement officer requiring the warrant must show probable cause. That is, the item, material, or thing to be searched and seized will reveal a crime.

According to the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure, 41(b), a judge can only release this warrant if it is to search and seize property for any of these reasons:

  • The property is being used or has been used to commit a criminal offense.
  • The property has been stolen or embezzled.
  • Possession of the property is illegal.
  • The property is material to an in-state or out-of-state criminal prosecution.
  • The law authorizes the property's seizure.
  • The property violates the law and is a serious threat to public safety, order, and welfare.
  • The property will help discover the whereabouts of a person with an outstanding arrest warrant or aid in their apprehension.

Per C.R.S. § 16-3-304, a search warrant issued by a Colorado court will contain the following details:

  • The identity or description of the person, place, thing, or premises to be searched.
  • The identity or description of the property to be searched for, and inspected. or seized.
  • The statutory grounds for the warrant's issuance (probable cause).
  • The names of persons whose testimonies were taken to support the warrant's issuance.
  • Other information deemed necessary by the judge.

Ordinarily, Colorado search warrants can be executed at any time unless stated otherwise by the issuing authority. These warrants have a 14-day lifespan.

How Does a Colorado Search Warrant Become Invalid?

Search warrants released in Colorado can become invalid upon certain occurrences. One is that the warrant's validity period (14 days from the date of issuance) expired. Another is that the issuance or execution of the search warrant is unlawful.

When an unlawful search and seizure occurs, the named respondent of the warrant (now the defendant) can file a motion to render the warrant invalid and suppress or throw out any seized evidence. Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure, 41(e) lists instances when the defendant may request a suppression hearing:

  • No probable cause for the warrant's issuance.
  • The property seized is not stated in the warrant.
  • The warrant was executed illegally.
  • The warrant is facially insufficient or deficient. That is, the warrant or its affidavit is not in the proper form. (It does not contain all that it should to make it legal or justify the search and seizure.)

However, where the seizure was due to a good-faith mistake or technical violation (defined by C.R.S. § 16-3-308 (2)), the court will often allow the evidence to be admissible in criminal prosecution.

How to Perform an Active Warrant Search in Colorado

The majority of warrants in Colorado do not have a time limit or expiration date therefore they may remain active indefinitely. An inquirer who should already have the first name, last name, and date of birth of the individual whose warrant is being checked for can conveniently make a search for an active warrant in Colorado by visiting the county court website or contacting local law enforcement agencies in-person in the jurisdiction where the warrant might be suspected to have been issued. Running a Colorado warrant search online is another way of making an active warrant search. Results provided will include details such as:

  • Subjects full name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Warrant number
  • Warrant type
  • Docket number
  • Issuing date and agency
  • Crime type
  • Bond information

Free Warrant Search in Colorado

In Colorado, a free warrant search can be acquired easily through the online platforms of law enforcement entities having it in mind that each agency has its own set of internal policies regarding the release of records. The office of the sheriff who is the custodian of warrants issued has limited authority to disclose information regarding warrants, particularly if the warrant was issued exclusively to them. A search can also be conducted easily for free via third-party websites. They maintain records of warrants issued or executed in different jurisdictions. However, information provided on these websites may vary because their sources are not governmental official.

Arrest Warrant in Colorado: Rules of Procedure

In Colorado, an arrest warrant authorizes the police to detain or arrest an individual. For this warrant to be valid, it must be signed by a judge and contain certain details. The judge can only sign this document if there is probable cause showing that a person committed an offense or upon indictment by a grand jury. A valid arrest warrant will likely contain the following information:

  • The name or a clear description of the person to be arrested.
  • The alleged criminal offense
  • The issuing date and place of the warrant
  • The issuing judge's name, title, and signature
  • Bail amount to be posted
  • The warrant's execution time and place

Arrest warrants can be issued because of a criminal investigation or non-compliance with court procedures (e.g., failing to respond to a jury duty summons). Per the law, these warrants are used for more serious crimes. However, if the crime is a petty offense, unclassified offense, or Class 3 misdemeanor where the maximum sentence is 6 months imprisonment, a "summons" will be issued in lieu of an arrest warrant (C.R.S. § 16-5-207) unless:

  • The individual has failed to answer a summons before.
  • There is a strong possibility that the named party will not answer the summons.
  • The defendant's whereabouts are unknown. Therefore, issuing the arrest warrant is necessary to bring the party before the court.

Unlike search warrants which have an expiration date, arrest warrants remain active until the subject of the warrant is arrested, appears in court voluntarily, or the judge recalls it. Hence, it is in an individual's best interests to conduct Colorado warrant searches now and then, especially if they suspect a warrant may be out for their arrest. The police are only mandated to arrest the individual, not notify them of the warrant.

If the search yields an outstanding arrest warrant, it is advisable to resolve it as quickly as possible with a criminal defense lawyer's assistance. This will prevent any embarrassment or inconvenience that may occur from an unexpected or public arrest.

Child Support Arrest Warrants in Colorado: What You Need to Know

A child support arrest warrant in Colorado directs the police to apprehend a parent for the non-payment of child support. This can cause the parent to spend time in jail until some or all past-due child support obligations are met. The individual may also incur additional court fines and fees, as well as a suspension of their driver's or professional license.

Colorado Bench Warrants: Issuing and Arrests

Police officers in Colorado can take a person into custody and bring them to court with a bench warrant. A judge issues this warrant type when a person disobeys a court procedure or order - for instance, paying child support, probation violation, attending a court hearing, paying a court fine, and so on. Other than an arrest, an active bench warrant in Colorado can lead to jail time, loss of driving privileges, and extra fines/fees, especially if the named respondent cannot provide a reasonable explanation for the default.

Persons who learn that they have an outstanding bench warrant in Colorado via a warrant search are advised to appear before the court willingly. They may avoid jail time by posting a bond or scheduling a new court appearance date. These options may not be available if the police apprehend the party.

Failure to Appear in Colorado: Rules and Consequences

If an individual misses a court date in Colorado without a valid reason, the court may issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). The FTA is a type of bench warrant that allows the police to arrest an individual for failing to attend a court hearing (C.R.S § 16-2-110). An FTA warrant can result in the following:

  • Jail time
  • Higher bond amounts
  • Bond forfeiture or revocation
  • Probation
  • Additional fees and court costs
  • Driver's license suspension

In Colorado, this kind of warrant is serious, as the court sees the default as a contempt of court. As such, even if the defendant provides a valid excuse or a criminal defense attorney helps recall the warrant, the court may still impose strict penalties. Therefore, individuals who suspect they may miss a court date are advised to contact the court ahead of time to request a continuance. However, the court may deny the request.

In the United States, certain states give their citizens a grace period before the court issues this warrant type. This is not the case for Colorado: FTA warrants can be issued once a defendant misses court.

In early 2020, a bill was put forward to introduce a 72 hour grace period for issuing FTA warrants into the Colorado legislature. It would have meant that every defendant who failed to appear when mandated by the court had 72 hours to appear before the court issued a bench warrant. When that time elapses, the police can arrest them for their non-appearance. However, the bill has been postponed indefinitely.

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

It depends. Colorado law does not specify the exact amount of time a person can spend in jail for missing court. A failure to appear is regarded as a "contempt of court" rather than a crime in the state. As such, the defendant will not be charged with a felony or misdemeanor, but the party may still incur a jail or prison sentence. Usually, the court will consider the underlying court case, the defendant's criminal history, and former failure to appear offenses before entering the sentence. This sentence can be up to 6 months (see Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, 107(d)). The accused party may also have to stay in jail until the court reconvenes or the case is resolved.

Failure to Pay in Colorado: How It Works

A judge issues a Failure to Pay (FTP) warrant in Colorado when an individual owes a court fine or fee. This warrant allows police to detain the named individual and take them to court. The court can also assess further penalties against the party, such as an additional fine or fee and driver's license suspension.

No-Knock Warrant in Colorado: General Laws

Colorado legislature (C.R.S. § 16-3-303) describes a "No-Knock Warrant" as a search warrant executed by entry without prior identification. Law enforcement officers use this warrant type to invade a person's property (home, business, car) without announcing themselves or stating their purpose. Per C.R.S. § 16-3-303 (4), a no-knock warrant can be issued only if the affidavit for the warrant:

  • Complies with the procedure for obtaining and executing search warrants in the state
  • Specifically requests that warrant type
  • Is reviewed for legal sufficiency and approved by a district attorney per C.R.S. 20-1-106.1 (1)(b).

The legal grounds for a no-knock warrant are as follows:

  • Announcing entry will cause a suspect to flee.
  • The named respondent will destroy evidence if alerted to the entry.
  • Prior notice will allow the occupant(s) to arm themselves and, therefore, jeopardize the safety or lives of officers or other individuals.

How to Perform a Federal Warrant Search

The US Federal Department of Justice maintains records of federal warrants through its Warrant Information System, which functions as a centralized database for court records, internal case documents, and other pertinent information related to federal warrants. Unfortunately, this system is not accessible to the public, meaning that members of the public cannot conduct searches within it. However, authorized law enforcement agencies have access to the information.

Does Colorado DMV Check for Warrants

The Division of Motor Vehicles may check for active warrants when processing driver’s license applications or renewals. An individual driving with outstanding warrants may be considered a risk to public safety. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Colorado Department of Revenue, if an individual fails to appear in court as scheduled, especially if a bench warrant is issued due to traffic violation.

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