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Georgia Warrant Records

What is a Warrant in Georgia?

A warrant in Georgia is an order issued by a legal authority with administrative or judicial powers, authorizing or directing someone to take some action. Usually, it is a written order from a judge permitting a law enforcement agent to arrest, search a location, or seize property. While there are different warrants, the most common are search, arrest, and bench warrants.

To obtain a warrant, the applicant must present facts about the alleged crime to a magistrate or judge under oath. If the judge concludes there is probable cause to search a place or arrest a person, the judge may issue a search warrant. An arrest warrant allows for the apprehension of an individual, while a search warrant permits the seizure of a property. Making a search or arrest without the relevant warrant in place violates the Fourth Amendment right of a US citizen. The executor of such unauthorized action may be liable for damages.

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant in Georgia?

In most cases, an individual does not get any notification about a warrant until the warrant action is executed. If a party suspects that a warrant has been issued on them in Georgia, taking action as soon as possible may help prevent an unexpected search or arrest and develop an effective early defense strategy. A person may carry out a Georgia warrant search to find out if there is an outstanding warrant through several methods.

Firstly, interested persons may visit municipal courts' websites to determine if there are arrest warrants against them. For a third-party Georgia warrant search, an individual may check the court's website in the locality where the subject of the investigation resides or has resided or where the suspect committed the offense. Therefore, the more an individual knows about the person getting searched, the easier it will be to pinpoint the proper jurisdiction.

Secondly, parties may contact court clerks who may explain policies and give directions to locating warrant information. Quite similar to completing an internet-based search, the caller must provide the correct details. Thirdly, most Sheriff's Offices allow individuals to ask for warrant information about themselves. Some also permit people to ask for warrant information about others. However, Sheriffs only have access to information about warrants for their counties. The Georgia Sheriff's Association, a not-for-profit organization, has a list of contact information by county online.

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

Most times, warrants stay active to guarantee that the suspects are dealt with legitimately for any crime or evidence required by the court. Nevertheless, a person may not escape a warrant before it expires. However, some warrants do become unresolved after elapsing certain timeframes. If the period specified by a statute of limitations on certain crimes has expired, the warrant is no longer valid for arresting or searching the person or the party's residence.

Arrest warrants and bench warrants do not expire. A warrant stays active until the individual dies or surrenders, the persecutor drops the charges, or an officer makes an arrest. A warrant is a serious business, irrespective of the charge. The longer a person waits to clear their name, the worse things are likely to happen. One of the issues that might arise from an outstanding warrant is that the Georgia Department of Driver Services may withhold the bearer's license. Also, an individual may not be eligible to renew a driver's license because of a warrant. The United States Customs may also detain such a party during an attempt to leave or return to the country until the warrant is resolved, set aside, or rescinded.

What is a Georgia Search Warrant?

A Georgia search warrant gives authority to a law enforcement officer to search a person or a specified place described in the warrant. The magistrate or judge only issues a search warrant if the requester presents a written affidavit with probable cause. The affidavit identifies:

  • Person to be arrested
  • Offense committed
  • Date and time offense was committed
  • The victim of the offense
  • Place of the offense

However, the evidence in the affidavit must be persuasive. That is, the judge must find probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense before issuing a search warrant. Probable cause means the officer of the law has more than mere suspicion but not total certainty. According to Ga. Code § 17-5-21, a judicial officer may only issue a search warrant;

  • When a party possesses an instrument, article, or thing used to commit an offense.
  • When an individual is in the custody of unlawful objects or substances
  • When it involves kidnapping and concealing
  • When it involves a stolen property

Per Ga. Code § 17-5-25, search warrants must be executed in the space of ten days from the date of issuance. After the search, the party whose property was explored or seized must have a duplicate copy of the warrant. If the person is absent, the law enforcement officer must leave a copy of the warrant in a conspicuous place on the premises. Search warrants not executed within ten days from issuance time shall be void and returned to the court of the issuing as "not executed."

Georgia permits the use of reasonable and necessary force to enter any building or property by law enforcement agencies or peace officers after verbal notice or attempt in good faith to give oral notice.

What Can Make a Georgia Search Warrant Invalid?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits judicial officers from issuing and authorizing warrants without probable cause as well as searching and seizing persons or properties without reasons. Hence, a Georgia search warrant is invalid if the requestor does not follow the required procedure or fails to describe what it is to be searched for. Furthermore, the time on the search warrant is also essential. Therefore if a search warrant is to be executed in the day but was performed at night, the search is illegal, making the warrant invalid.

What is an Arrest Warrant in Georgia?

Georgia arrest warrants are documents issued by courts to grant authority to law enforcement officers to detain parties named in the warrants. However, offenders rarely get a notice until arrest. Before a law enforcement officer obtains an arrest warrant in Georgia, the party must present an affidavit that the suspect violated the penal law. Also, District attorneys may provide these affidavits.

Furthermore, a warrant issued by either a judge or a magistrate provides the authority to arrest and seize items that may be admissible in court as evidence. Except as expressly stated in the document, most arrest warrants have validity periods. Georgia arrest warrants typically contain the following;

  • Detailed information about the alleged offense
  • Information about the suspect
  • The permitted time frame for the arrest
  • The expiration date (if applicable)
  • Date of issuance
  • The name of the official who authorized the warrant
  • Conditions of bail and bonds

Even though warrants are preferred in nearly all cases, the law recognizes certain exceptions to the warrant requirement. Without a warrant, law enforcement officers in Georgia may arrange to make an arrest or search private property. The most common circumstances in which a law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant is if an officer witnesses the crime in person. Officers must adhere to constitutional guidelines and applicable statutes when conducting searches without warrants.

According to the Georgia Code § 17-4-40, the following entities may issue arrest warrants;

  • Judges of Superior, City, State, or Magistrate Courts or any Municipal Officer empowered by law to exercise magistrate powers.
  • A retired judge or judge emeritus of a state court may issue a warrant with written authorization by an active state court judge in the county where the warrant is to be issued.

What is a Child Support Arrest Warrant in Georgia?

A child support arrest warrant is a warrant issued against a person who fails to pay child support after an order from the Superior Court. A custodial parent may request a child support arrest warrant against noncustodial parents for failure to provide food, clothing, money, and medical insurance, for thirty (30) days. Leaving a child unattended is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia that results in 12 months of jail time and a fine of $1,000.

When a custodial parent applies for a warrant, the custodial parent may request that the court ensure that the noncustodial parent also pays interest on the outstanding balance owed. To obtain a warrant, the caretaker of a child must apply through the Local Warrant Office. Once the office approves the application, a hearing follows. The judge then decides at the hearing whether the noncustodial parent truly abandoned the child or not.

A concerned party applying for a misdemeanor arrest warrant must provide a case number for an open child support case filed with the Georgia Department of Human Services before the judge schedules a hearing for the warrant application.

What is a Georgia Bench Warrant?

According to GA Code § 17-7-90, a bench warrant is an order for arrest issued by a judge against a party who committed a criminal offense and fails to comply with the court’s instructions or proceedings even after receiving a notice. Notably, deeds that make accused individuals receive a bench warrant include;

  • Failure to attend a scheduled court meeting, to appear on the bench, or sit opposite the judge in a courtroom.
  • Failure to pay a fine ordered by a court, e.g., parking tickets and traffic ticket fines.
  • Failure to obey a court ruling.

Also, a judge may issue a bench warrant for other actions such as;

  • The refusal or delay in the payments of alimony or child support.
  • Failure to adhere to a subpoena to testify as a witness at a trial.

Bench warrants do not expire, and they remain valid until recipients come to the court either by arrest or at will. Hence, members of the public should contact the local Sheriff’s Office for a Georgia warrant search.

In Georgia, What is Failure to Appear?

A Failure to Appear (FTA) is usually issued to a defendant or a witness who missed a court date. It is a type of bench warrant, and a party who receives an FTA must appear in court. Failure to appear for a scheduled court meeting is a criminal offense, and it may negatively influence the current charges against the culprit. If the reason for non-appearance is as a result of an emergency, the judge may waive it. However, per Ga. Code § 40-13-63, if the court finds the absence to be willful, it is punishable by a fine of $200. In addition, the Georgia Department of Driver Services may suspend or revoke the driver’s license of any person who willfully sidelines an FTA warrant after a traffic infraction.

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

Under Ga. Code § 40-13-63, the failure to honor a warrant is a criminal offense punishable by three days jail time. The guilty party may be reprimanded in a county holding facility in the county where the person lives. In addition, Ga. Code § 16-10-51 states that a party released on bail for a misdemeanor or felony offense must appear in the court upon request. If the offender decides to miss the court date without a sufficient reason, the party may either face jail time or pay a fine, or both. A felony attracts five years of jail time or $5,000 in fines, or both penalties. For a misdemeanor, the fine is between $1,000 to $5,000, and jail time is between one to five years. Nevertheless, offenders may partake in both punishments.

In Georgia, What is Failure to Pay?

A failure to pay is a warrant a judge issues when an individual fails to pay a fine ordered by the court and the period for payment elapses. Sometimes, a court-ordered payment may involve paying for alimony or what is due in child support and violating this equals contempt of court. According to Ga. Code § 15-11-31, if a failure to pay is found to be willful, it is punishable by imprisonment, not more than 20 days, or a fine to the tune of $1,000.

What is a No-Knock Warrant in Georgia?

In Georgia, a No-Knock warrant is a warrant that permits a law enforcement officer to enter a residence without any form of notice. i.e. (knocking on the door, ringing the bell, or calling out the resident’s name). Hence, the officers do not need to show any form of identity, knock on the door, or ring the doorbell. The judge usually issues this type of warrant when the law enforcement personnel believe that giving notice may destroy the evidence, endanger the officer or onlookers, make the suspect run away, or allow the residents to pick up arms.