Do Warrants Show Up On a Criminal Background Check?

In general, arrests and convictions show up on a criminal background check but warrants do not. Warrant information is not public information and, therefore, only courts and law enforcement should know if you have a warrant.

However, it all depends on which entity is providing the criminal history. For example, if you purchase a criminal background report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, warrants will not be included in the criminal history, but warrants may appear in criminal background reports obtained from other entities.

How Much Information Will Show Up on Your Criminal Background Check?

The amount of information that shows up on a criminal background report depends on who is providing the report, but it also depends on who is requesting it. If you request your own background report and agree to be finger-printed, you will receive information on all of your open and closed cases. If a potential employer requests the report on your behalf, the employer will only receive information on open cases. However, the employer will also see your arrests and convictions, and the criminal background report will state why you were arrested and what crime you were convicted of.

Also, the criminal background check will be much more thorough if you are applying for a job with the FBI, a prison, police department, or other law enforcement-related entity.

The Record of an SIS May Show Up on a Criminal Background Report While You’re on Probation 

If you were charged with a criminal offense and received a plea-bargain deal called an SIS (Suspended Imposition of Sentence) with probation, your case will be an open case throughout the probation period. With an SIS, if you successfully complete probation without any violations, your case will be closed and there will be no conviction on your criminal record.

However, it is still possible that the record of the SIS will appear on a criminal background check. While your case is still an open case, companies that sell criminal background reports can find the record of your case and save it, and then they can sell that information later to any potential employer who wants to buy it.

Therefore, the record of your SIS and probation may appear on a criminal background report if the report is run during the time you’re on probation, but it may also show up even after your probation period is over and your case has been closed.

How to Get a Copy of Your Criminal Background Report

You can buy a copy of your criminal background report online from the Missouri State Highway Patrol:

How To Get Convictions Expunged From Your Criminal Record

It is possible to get convictions expunged (removed) from your criminal record, but only a few types of misdemeanors and felonies are eligible for expungement, and only after 10 years (for misdemeanors) or 20 years (for felonies) of good behavior.

Keep in mind that, if you are able to get a conviction expunged from your criminal record, the conviction will still be visible to the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

For more information, click here to read my previous blog post about Missouri criminal record expungement.

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant

Most criminal defense attorneys subscribe to some type of online service which allows them to run a warrant search for clients. Your attorney can find out if you have a warrant and can tell you whether the warrant is state-wide, regional, or nationwide in scope. You can also call the court to ask if they have issued a warrant for your arrest.

How To Get an Arrest Warrant Lifted in Missouri

In many cases, an attorney can get your warrant lifted and obtain a new court date for you, and you won’t have to pay the bond. See my previous blog post about how to get an arrest warrant lifted in Missouri.

However, if you have already appeared in court and pleaded guilty, but you failed to pay the fine or complete a court-ordered duty (attend driving school, perform community service, attend a drug education class, etc.), an attorney may not be able to get your warrant lifted without payment of a bond.

If you have questions about an arrest warrant or criminal background check, call St. Louis traffic lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or via email at [email protected] for a free consultation and a price quote for legal representation.


Can Police Search Your Car?

A police search of your car is legal if 1) you give consent, 2) the police have probable cause to search your car, 3) the search occurs immediately after you have been arrested for a traffic violation (and other conditions exist), or 4) the search is conducted during an inventory of your vehicle after police impound it.

If police performed an illegal car search during a traffic stop and charge you with a crime, any evidence found during the search can’t be used against you in court.

“Reasonable Suspicion” is Required Before Police Can Pull You Over for a Traffic Stop

A police officer can’t pull you over for a traffic stop unless he has “reasonable suspicion” that illegal activity has occurred or is occurring. Reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop can be something as simple as a broken taillight, speeding, or any other type of traffic violation.

If the police officer scans your license plate and sees that you have a warrant, expired registration, or a suspended license, those all qualify as reasonable suspicion for the police officer to pull you over.

A Police Officer Needs “Probable Cause” to Search Your Car Without a Warrant

If a police officer has reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a traffic stop, he can search the passenger compartment of your car without your consent, and without a warrant, if he has “probable cause” to believe that the vehicle contains contraband or other evidence of a crime.

The “probable cause” requirement can be satisfied in various ways:  the police officer might smell marijuana, he might observe that the driver is behaving in a nervous or suspicious manner, or the police officer could see a bag of weed or a joint sitting in plain view in the car.

There is an “Automobile Exception” to the 4th Amendment Protection Against Unreasonable Searches

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring police to have a warrant to arrest someone in their own home, unless they believe evidence of a crime is about to be destroyed or the police officer is in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing felon. Police officers must also have a warrant to search the premises of a third party for a suspect.

There are several exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, including the “automobile exception,” which allows a police officer to search your car without a warrant in certain situations.

When Can Police Search Your Car?

Here are some situations in which a police officer can legally search your vehicle:

1) The police officer has a warrant to search your vehicle. (A police officer can’t obtain a search warrant unless he convinces a judge that he has probable cause for the search.)

2) You consent to the search.

3) The police officer smells marijuana when you roll down your car window, thus giving him probable cause to search your car without a warrant.

4) You are arrested during a traffic stop, which gives the police the right to conduct a “search incident to arrest” if certain conditions exist. (The search is limited to the area immediately surrounding the person where he might grab a weapon, escape, or destroy or hide evidence.)

5) The cop sees a bag of marijuana or a joint in plain view in your car, which gives him probable cause to search.

6) As a result of a traffic stop, the police decide to tow your vehicle to the impound lot, which gives the police the opportunity to conduct an inventory of your car.

7) The police bring a drug-sniffing dog who “alerts” to something in the passenger compartment or trunk of your car, which gives the police probable cause to search.

If you are the subject of any of the legal searches listed above and drugs are found in your car, those drugs are admissible evidence that can be used against you in court.

You Can Refuse to Let Police Search Your Car

The police will never tell you this, but you have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your vehicle. When the police officer asks if he can search your car, calmly reply, “No, I do not consent to a search. Am I free to leave?”

If you refuse to give consent to a search of your car, the police can go ahead and search your vehicle anyway, but only if they have probable cause to search, if it’s a search incident to arrest, if they are conducting an inventory of your car after impounding it, or if they obtain a search warrant.

Please note:  You can refuse to consent to the search, but you do not have the right to physically resist the police officers when they search your car.

Drugs Found as a Result of an Illegal Search Can’t be Used Against You at Trial

In situations where the police officer has conducted an illegal search of your vehicle, any drugs discovered as a result of the search are not admissible as evidence at trial. You will need to hire a criminal defense attorney to investigate whether the search was illegal and, if it was, your attorney can keep this evidence from being used against you in court.

An Attorney May be Able to Get Your Drug Charges Reduced to a Lesser Offense

If the search was legal, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea-bargain with the court to get the charges reduced to a lesser offense and keep the drug conviction off your criminal record. The outcome will depend on which court your case is being prosecuted in, your criminal history, and the details of your case.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 to discuss your case and get a price quote for legal representation, or email Andrea at [email protected]

Get Your Warrant Lifted On “Amnesty Day” In St. Louis

If there is a warrant for your arrest that was issued by a municipal court in the St. Louis area, you may be able to get your warrant lifted and pay your fine without any additional penalties.

To take advantage of this opportunity, go to St. Louis Community College on one of three scheduled “Amnesty Days” in August 2012. Of the total 93 municipal courts in St. Louis, 50 of them (including St. Louis City Municipal Court, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County) will participate in “Amnesty Days” for defendants who have arrest warrants for any misdemeanor criminal charge, including traffic ticket warrants.

If You Have a Warrant, You Can Be Arrested Even If You Are Just a Passenger In a Vehicle Driven By Someone Else 

You can be arrested and taken to jail if you are pulled over for a traffic violation and the police officer discovers your warrant, even if you are just a passenger in the car. If you are arrested and taken to jail, you won’t be released until you either post bond or you go before the judge at the next court date, which might not take place for another week or more.

To Get Your Warrant Lifted On Amnesty Day, You Must Pay a $10 Fee Plus $100 That Will Be Applied To Your Fines & Court Costs

If you attend one of the scheduled Amnesty Days at St. Louis Community College, you will be required to pay a $10 processing fee and listen to a 15-minute presentation that explains the program, then you will be given a voucher. Take the voucher and $100 to the municipal court that issued the warrant against you, and that court will lift your warrant and give you a new court date. The $100 will be applied to the fines and court costs that you owe to the court.

St. Louis City Municipal Court requires payment of only $35 (rather than $100) during Amnesty Days to lift a warrant.

How Does “Amnesty Day” Help Defendants With Warrants?

Courts who participate in Amnesty Day help defendants who have warrants by letting defendants get their warrants cancelled and pay their fines without additional penalties.

Normally, when an arrest warrant has been issued, the defendant must either hire an attorney to get the warrant lifted or pay a bond to the court in order to get the warrant lifted and get a new court date. In addition to paying the bond, defendants often must pay warrant fees and “Failure to Appear” fees.

When You Pay Your Fines, You’re Pleading Guilty

Be aware that when you pay your fines to the court, you are pleading guilty. The conviction will go on your criminal record, if it’s a misdemeanor criminal offense. If you pay the fine for a traffic ticket, then that conviction will be reported to the Missouri Department of Revenue and points will be added to your driving record.

After you get your warrant lifted and the court gives you a new court date, you can hire an attorney to represent you in court and negotiate a plea bargain with the court to reduce your charges to a lesser offense.

Which St. Louis Area Municipal Courts Will Participate In Amnesty Days in August 2012?

Following is a list of some of the municipal courts participating in the August 2012 Amnesty Days at St. Louis Community College:

Bellefontaine Neighbors
Bellerive Acres
Beverly Hills
Black Jack
Cool Valley
Country Club Hills
Des Peres
Moline Acres
Pine Lawn
Richmond Heights
St. Ann
St. Charles County
St. John
St. Louis City
St. Louis County
Sycamore Hills
Town & Country
University City
Uplands Park
Velda Village Hills
Vinita Park
Warson Woods

When And Where Are “Amnesty Days” For Warrants Being Held In St. Louis?

St. Louis “Amnesty Days” hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dates and locations are as follows:

August 4 – St. Louis Community College – Meramec campus

August 8 – St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley campus

August 11 – St. Louis Community College – Forest Park campus

Some Municipal Court Host Their Own Warrant Amnesty Days

In addition to the Amnesty Days at the St. Louis Community College locations, some other St. Louis municipalities host their own Amnesty Days, allowing defendants with arrest warrants to come to court and pay to get their warrants lifted and be given a new court date.

If you believe you have a warrant, call the court and ask if they are planning to hold an Amnesty Day.

Amnesty Day in Downtown St. Louis For Old Parking Tickets And Warrants

In May 2012, for the first time in more than ten years, there was an Amnesty Day downtown at the America’s Center for old parking tickets in St. Louis City and warrants in unincorporated St. Louis County.

Attendees paid entry fees ranging from $10 to $25 (prices varied depending on which jurisdiction issued the warrant), to the organization sponsoring the Amnesty Day event, and in exchange they were able to pay their overdue parking tickets without any additional penalties or late fees. Be prepared to wait several hours for this privilege, though. The May 2012 Amnesty Day in downtown St. Louis attracted thousands of people who had to wait for hours in long lines. See this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about the recent St. Louis parking ticket Amnesty Day.

An Attorney Can Get Your Warrant Lifted And You Won’t Have To Pay Your Bond

If you can’t make it to the St. Louis area Amnesty Days, you can hire an attorney to get your warrant lifted and obtain a new court date for you. At that point, you can either pay the fine and the conviction will go on your record, or you can hire an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense.

Go to this page of my website to learn how to find out if you have a warrant in Missouri or see my previous blog post about how to get a warrant lifted in Missouri.


How to Get an Arrest Warrant Lifted

An attorney may be able to lift your warrant, cancel your bond, and obtain a new court date for you. Then your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense.

Why Was a Warrant Issued Against Me?

Missouri courts issue arrest warrants for a variety of reasons, but here are a few of the most common ones:

  • you failed to pay your fine for a speeding ticket or other moving violation
  • you’re on a payment plan with the court to pay fines that you owe and you missed a payment
  • you missed a court date
  • you caused a car accident and didn’t pay for the damages to the other driver’s car

Some courts will send a letter reminding you that you missed your court date, or failed to pay a fine, before they file a Failure to Appear (FTA) charge or issue an arrest warrant. Other courts issue active arrest warrants immediately after the first missed court date or payment due date.

What is a Bond?

After your second missed court date, many courts will issue an arrest warrant against you and will assess a bond, which is an amount of money that you must pay the court to get your warrant cancelled and to get a new court date. Bond amounts can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the type of charges that were filed against you.

How to Get Your Bond Cancelled

A lawyer may be able to get your warrant cancelled (“lifted”), obtain a new court date for you, and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to have the charge reduced to a lesser offense. The prosecutor will assess the fine and court costs and give you a new court date, which will be your payment due date. If your lawyer gets your bond cancelled, then that means you don’t have to pay the bond amount to the court, but you will have to pay the fine and court costs, as well as any other fees, such as a warrant fee or FTA fee.

Some courts won’t cancel a warrant just because an attorney files a pleading requesting it. In those courts, the defendant’s only option is to pay the bond in order to cancel the warrant and get a new court date.

If You Have Multiple Warrants, You Will Be Taken to Each Jail Where You Have a Warrant, Unless an Attorney Gets Your Warrants Cancelled in Advance

If you have warrants in more than one court and the police arrest you and take you to jail for one of those warrants, then as soon as you pay your bond in the first court, you will be sent to jail in the next court that issued a warrant for your arrest. In order to be released from jail in the second court and get a new court date, you will have to pay a separate bond.  This process will repeat until you bond out of the last jail where you have a warrant.

An attorney may be able to get your warrants cancelled before you leave one jail and are transported to the next jail. Many municipal courts don’t hold court very often, though, so it’s possible that your attorney would not be able to get your warrant cancelled until the next time court is in session, which could be one to two weeks, in some jurisdictions.

An Attorney Can Tell You If You Have a Warrant

If you suspect you have a warrant for your arrest, contact an attorney, who can research the arrest warrant records and tell you which courts have issued warrants against you. In many cases, a lawyer can get your warrants cancelled and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor regarding the underlying charges.

Click here for more information about Missouri arrest warrants and FTA (Failure to Appear) charges.

If you have a question about an arrest warrant or other issue, call St. Louis Traffic Lawyer Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected] for a free price quote for legal representation in the St. Louis area and throughout Missouri.