There are few things more stressful than being unsure if you have an open warrant for your arrest. If you have an open warrant in Houston, it is highly advisable to take care of it proactively by turning yourself in and avoid being arrested unexpectedly. This article discusses how to check to see if you have an open warrant in Houston or Harris County and includes links to several useful databases.
Although the below information can be very helpful to confirm the existence of a warrant, it is important to remember that not all warrants are publicly available and it is still possible to have an open warrant even if it does not appear on any of the databases provided below. If you are unsure about the existence of a warrant for your arrest, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
How do I know where to look for a warrant in Houston?
In Houston, there is no single place to look for an open warrant. Many people learn about the existence of a warrant after receiving mail or telephone calls from bail bondsman but this is not always the case. If you believe you might have an open warrant in Houston, it is necessary to know what potential charge you might be facing and what court the case could be assigned to as there are several databases that contain warrant information, depending on the type of charge and the court a certain case would be assigned to.
In Houston, Class “C” misdemeanors (the least serious offense type in Texas) are heard in the City of Houston Municipal Court or in Justice of the Peace Court (known as “JP” courts). This includes routine traffic violations, theft under $100 or simple assault.
Class “B” and “A” misdemeanors, which can include offenses like assault-family violence, DWI, theft and shoplifting over $100 are assigned to Harris County Courts at Law. Felonies are the most serious category of offenses and include offenses like aggravated assault, sexual assault and most drug offenses. Class “A” and Class “B” misdemeanors are assigned to county courts at law whereas felonies are assigned to District Courts. Although misdemeanors and felonies are assigned to different types of courtrooms, all of the courtrooms are located at 1201 Franklin St in Downtown Houston.
When searching for a warrant on any of the databases below, it is important to search using every possible variation of your name (for example, try with and without a middle name or hyphenated last name). If you are unsure what potential charge you might be facing and what court your warrant could be in, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help.
How do I check for a Class “C” misdemeanor warrant in Houston?
As noted above, Class “C” misdemeanors will be filed in Houston a municipal court or JP court. Because it is possible that a Class “C” misdemeanor warrant could be filed in either court, it is important to check in both places.
To check if you have an open Class “C” warrant in the City of Houston Municipal Court, you can go to this website or call the Municipal Court at 713-247-5479. To check for Class “C” warrants in JP court you can use Harris County’s online portal at this page (it may be necessary to register first).
How do I check for a Class “B” or Class “A” misdemeanor warrant in Houston?
If you believe that you may have an open warrant for a Class “B” or Class “A” misdemeanor, there are two places to check. The first is the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s online misdemeanor warrants page which can be found here. The other place to check in the Harris County District Clerk’s website which can be found here (it will be necessary to first register, but there is no cost). If you have been previously assigned a Harris County SPN number, it is a good idea to search using that number but you can also search using your name.
How do I check for a felony warrant in Houston?
The most reliable place to check for an outstanding felony warrant in Houston is the Harris County District Clerk’s website which can be accessed here. Again, the best way to search the Harris County District Clerk’s Website is by using a SPN number if you have one, but you can also search using your name .
However, it is important to understand that many felony warrants may not be visible right away and it is possible that a warrant may exist even if your name does not appear on the website.
What are my options if I have a felony or misdemeanor warrant?
If you have a felony or misdemeanor warrant, your options will depend on whether a bond amount has been set on your warrant. For example, if you learn that you have an open warrant for theft and the bond amount is set at $100, then you can pay that amount at 700 N. San Jacinto and be given a court date without having to turn yourself in at the jail.
If you have a misdemeanor or felony warrant and there is no bond amount set, you must turn yourself in as soon as possible. However, it may be possible to avoid going to jail by doing a “walk-through arrest.” A walk-through arrest is a way to clear a warrant (and be given a court date) by going to the court your case is assigned to, accompanied by a bail bondsman, and asking for the judge to set a bond. Then, rather than take you into custody, the judge will allow you to leave the courtroom with the bail bondsman to post bond and complete the booking process, without having to actually go to jail.
In Harris County, not all judges permit walk-through arrests and if a walk-through arrest is not permitted in your court, then you will have to turn yourself in at the Harris County Jail. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to tell you if a walk-through arrest is an option in your case.
Do I need a bail bondsman if I have an open warrant in Houston?
Many people are confused regarding the role of a bail bondsman in a criminal case. You do not need to use a bail bondsman for an open warrant in Houston in most cases.
The main role of a bail bondsman is paying the entire bond amount in a case for a fee, which is typically 10%. For example, if you learn that you have an open warrant for aggravated assault in Harris County and the warrant is $10,000, a bail bondsman will post the entire amount for you in exchange for a fee of $1000. It is not necessary to use a bail bondsman, although for many people, it is the best option for paying higher bond amounts. You should be wary of any bail bondsman that charges more than 10-20% of the entire bond amount.
If you are able to post the entire cash amount directly to the county, the entire amount will be refunded to you at the end of the case (whereas the 10% you pay to a bail bondsman in non-refundable). In many cases, paying the county yourself is simpler and may be preferable as many bail bondsman will require you to periodically “check in” with them. You can pay a bond yourself at the Harris County Bail Bond Window located at 700 N San Jacinto.
One situation where you do need the services of a bail bondsman if you have an open warrant in Houston is if you would like to do a walk-through arrest. As discussed above, in a walk-through arrest, a judge will permit you to post bond without having to go to jail, but you must have a bail bondsman escort you out of the courtroom.
What should an undocumented person do if he has an open warrant in Houston?
If an undocumented person has an open warrant, it is very important that the person bond out of jail as quickly as possible, or whenever possible, avoid going to jail by doing a “walk-through” arrest. At the Harris County jail, there are immigration officials that could issue immigration holds on undocumented defendants. In general, the chances of an immigration hold increase the longer an undocumented person is in custody.
If an undocumented person has an open warrant, and is detained in jail on an immigration hold, that person will not be permitted to bond out of jail, even if the bond is paid. Instead, the person will be transferred to immigration detention at the conclusion of the criminal case.
If you have an open warrant, we strongly recommend addressing it right away. Warrants do not expire and for most offenses, law enforcement outside of Houston have access to warrant information and are obligated to arrest you. If you have an open warrant in Houston, call Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation.