Do Arrest or Bench Warrants Show Up on a Pre Employment Background Check?

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One of our users wants to know if her active arrest warrants can be found by a potential employer, and if so, will they prevent her from getting a job offer.

The short answer is “Hell Yes”.

The long answer is that arrest warrants can prevent your from a getting a job, but there is something you can do about it.


Taking voluntary action to cure a warrant problem can help you get that job and will help you avoid the worst consequences of a warrant problem.


Warrants Are Public Records. Anyone Looking for them Can Find Them.

There are all sorts of “preemployment background checks”, and they vary in scope. But arrest warrants are super easy to discover.

Arrest warrants are court orders directing that a person be arrested and brought to court. Such warrants are usually issued due to a problem in a criminal case, such as a missed court date on a DUI, or failure to complete community service on a Petty Theft Case.

Old Jail in Alpine County, California. Dont get arrested!

Old Jail in Alpine County, California. Dont get arrested!

Failure to pay a fine, or failure to complete a probation drug test are also common causes of arrest warrants.

Criminal case records for adults, and warrants that issue from them are almost always public records. In many courts, details on those cases can be found by anyone for free online. Such is the case in San Diego County for example, where the Superior Court publishes criminal case details that is name searchable, and the San Diego County Sheriff has an online tool for the public to look up arrest warrant records. Many other Sheriffs Agencies have a similar tool that employers can use for free.

In some courts, a person having to research a criminal case may have to go look in person, but that info is there for the public. Employers may hire outside companies to do this research on a job applicant, or even a private investigator. There are companies that specialize in producing criminal background check reports for employers.

Government employers may have direct access to criminal case records through their agency, such as a law enforcement agency.

What Does an Arrest Warrant Mean to a Potential Employer?

Employers doing background checks on applicants are very, very interested in finding criminal case records on the applicant, and very, very, very interesting in finding warrant information if there are any pending. Why? Because a person with a pending arrest warrant is a giant danger to an employer.

Technically a person with an active arrest warrant is a fugitive from justice and that info is available on a typical background check. In fact, on many court web sites when you find the online record for a warrant case it will state “Status: Fugitive”.

Even a minor misdemeanor warrant means the Defendant is a fugitive from justice, and is hiding from court action. There is no way around that.

All arrest warrants mean the Defendant can be arrested by police suddenly, without warning, anywhere. A person with an arrest warrant pending can be arrested on their way to work, getting ready for work, helping a customer, or in the middle of a sales meeting. If they are driving a company vehicle when they are arrested, that vehicle will be impounded by the government.

Employers can also face civil liability under a cause of action for “Negligent Entrustment” if they mistakenly hire a fugitive from justice and that person happens to steal from a client of or customer.

Because of all of these reasons, employers view job applicants with active arrest warrants as not only untrustworthy, but also a dangerous liability problem. There is no way in the world a bank would knowingly hire a person with a warrant. The same is true of a law enforcement or government agency, or school. In fact, this is exactly why employers do background checks! To weed the fugitives out.

And yes, law enforcement warrant sweeps at the workplaces of defendants not only happens, but is becoming more common.


Arrest Warrant Problems Can Often Be Solved Quickly. Take Action, Get the Job.

What should you do if you need to apply for a job and now that you are going to have a background check and that you have arrest warrants? Take action voluntarily to solve the problem.

A request to have a court recall a warrant can be made as soon as the defendant or the Attorney for the defendant can get the case on the court’s schedule. Once an arrest warrant is recalled by a judge, the person is no longer a “fugitive from justice”, and there should be no record on an active arrest warrant in a current background from reliable sources.

In many common warrant cases, an appearance in court in person is all that is need to get a warrant recalled. In some cases, an Attorney can get a warrant recalled within a few days without the defendant having to go to court at all.

1. Get details on the case that has a pending warrant. The court clerk for the courthouse where the court case is pending is the best source of information on a warrant. Do not trust what the DMV, or your roommates tell you. Get the details from the source, the court clerk.

2. Figure out how to get the case back on the court’s calendar. The court clerk can give you this information. In some situations, hiring an attorney to do this work for you is much easier than trying to do it yourself. Request a Free Warrant Attorney Case Review.

3. Once in court, ask the judge to recall the warrant, and that you are there to take care of the problem. The problem that caused the warrant will still have to be addressed, but a court appearance is likely to end most arrest warrant problems. There may still be a probation or case problem, but the warrant usually gets recalled after the Defendant shows up in the right courtroom.

4. Be honest when you apply for the job. Dont be afraid to tell an employer that they may find you have had trouble in the past, but that you are taking care of it correctly, like a hard working, responsible adult. Dishonesty will sink a job application, honesty may float an application even if it has holes.

There you have it. Free self help advice on what to do if you have arrest warrants, and expect your potential employer to find them.

Questions? Leave a reply. We try to answer them all.

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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.
This entry was posted in Background Checks, Missed Court Dates, San Diego County, Warrant Searches and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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