Bench Warrant? How to Get Info on a Warrant Case

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Frequently Asked Question:

I may have 2 outstanding traffic warrants in the jurisdiction of Merced County. How can i locate whether or not i do? Thx, Usr

Answer:

Usr,

You need to contact the court to determine the status of your case(s). The court is the only source of reliable information on a warrant case.

In California, Traffic and Criminal cases are usually handled by the County Superior Court. So you need to call or visit the Merced County Superior Court.

Most Superior Courts have separate traffic and criminal divisions. They may not be able to communicate with each other. You may have to check in both divisions to find your case(s). If the traffic court clerk says they cannot find your case, dont assume it just disappeared. Check with the criminal division court clerk next.

A common misdemeanor like driving on a suspended drivers license (vehicle code 14601.1) with a failure to appear charge could potentially be in either division. There is some overlap on failure to appear cases.

The best way to get reliable information on a court case is to visit the court clerks office in person.


In some courts, like Ventura county, Orange County, San Diego County, monterey county, and others, you can get detailed case info for a traffic or criminal case on line. In those places, you can get info on the charges, the last hearing, which courtroom, the case, #, the bail setting, the current status of the case, etc. in seconds from your desk.

But sadly, other CA Courts do not provide this info on line to the Public. For example, in Los Angeles County Superior, you can look up summary info on a failure to appear traffic division case. But the have no access to details, and no on line access to criminal case details.

And double sadly, in Merced County Superior there is no on line access to traffic court case details or criminal case details.

You can pay a fine on line in Merced County if it is a current traffic citation, but you cannot get details on the charges of a case, status of any warrant, etc. And there is no on line access to criminal case info.

If you discover that you do have 2 warrants, you can actually request a free attorney case review right from the courthouse, because in Merced, they have public wireless web access.

PS – dont trust what the California Department of Motor Vehicles tells you about a court case. DMV often provides the wrong case numbers to drivers because they have their own case number codes. And DMV does not have current information on the status of court issued warrants.

Questions? Leave a reply below.

About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
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