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Delaware Warrant Search

A warrant is an order (aka writ) issued by a judge, justice of the peace, or magistrate authorizing a peace officer to arrest or search a person or premises. Warrants are necessary to prevent the infringement of an individual's constitutional right against unreasonable searches and undue invasion of privacy. 

Delaware residents (as well as persons intending to visit or live here) may perform a warrant search to find out if there are active warrants for their arrest or mandatory court appearance. 

A Delaware warrant search involves contacting the custodians of the information sought. Typically, these are the Delaware state courts, the State Police Department, the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (DELJIS), and all other relevant law enforcement agencies. 

Are Warrants Public Records in Delaware?

Yes. Warrants in Delaware are publicly available records per the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (Del. Code 29 § 10001). The Delaware FOIA emphasizes the need for citizens to have easy access to public records to encourage democracy, accountability, and transparency of public officials. 

Under the Delaware FOIA (Del. Code 29 § 10003), all public records in the custody of a government agency shall be open to inspection and copying. The Act also requires custodians of such documents to implement guidelines or rules of procedure for requests.

However, the provision of public availability under the Delaware FOIA applies only to warrants whose disclosure does not compromise the integrity of a criminal justice procedure. Case in point, warrants pertaining to juveniles and those containing sensitive information are not available to the public. Only statutorily authorized persons may view or obtain copies of confidential warrants. 

Types of Warrants in Delaware

Delaware courts may issue any of the four types of warrants described below. Although the manner of execution of these warrants may be similar, their legal definitions and applications differ.

Arrest Warrants

A Delaware arrest warrant is a legal document issued by a competent judicial officer—usually a judge or magistrate—authorizing a peace officer to take an individual into custody. Generally, an arrest warrant is issued when a law enforcement officer files a complaint with an affidavit showing probable cause to believe that a person has committed an act that violates criminal laws. "Probable cause" is a crucial factor here, as state and federal law prohibit baseless denial of an individual's right to liberty. 

Search and Seizure Warrants

A search and seizure warrant issued by a competent judicial officer authorizes law enforcement to search any person, house, or place to find and seize items that are subject matters in a criminal justice process (Del. Code 29 § 2304). Generally, these include items that may serve as evidence of a crime or instruments used to commit a crime. The execution of a search warrant may also lead to a lawful arrest. 

Bench Warrants

A bench warrant is issued when a person fails to comply with all legal obligations related to their previous arrest. In Delaware, a bench warrant may be issued where a party fails to attend court hearings, pay fines and fees, or violates a court order (for example, an order to perform community service). 

Capias Warrants

A capias is a warrant issued by a Delaware court directing a law enforcement officer or agency to bring an individual before the court. Unlike the aforementioned warrants, which are issued based on probable cause, a Capias Warrant is issued at the sole discretion and decision of the court. 

A capias issued by a superior court shall be executed using the same procedure as an arrest warrant. This means that the court shall authorize a law enforcement officer to arrest a person and bring them before the court at a time or manner stipulated by the court or statute. 

What is a Search Warrant in Delaware?

Per the Delaware Crimes and Criminal Procedure Law, Chapter 23, a search and seizure warrant shall only be issued when a competent judicial officer finds probable cause for the search and seizure of a person or property. A complaint or application for a search warrant must be addressed to the judge of a Superior Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the Justice of Peace, or any magistrate authorized to issue such warrants (Del. Code 29 § 2304).  

A warrant for the search of a person or property may be issued to find and seize:

  • Property obtained from the commission of a crime
  • Instruments used in committing the crime
  • Papers, plans, and items designed to be used in committing a crime
  • Papers or items that constitute unlawful possession 
  • Weapons or other things needed to escape from arrest or custody 
  • Matters of evidence relating to the commission of a crime
  • A person named in an active arrest warrant. 

State laws require a search warrant to indicate the specific house, place, building, or person to be searched, as well as a definite identifiable description of such persons, papers, documents, or items. 

According to Del. Code 29 § 2308, a search warrant for a dwelling premises must be executed in the daytime. The law prohibits law enforcement from executing search warrants at residential homes at nighttime (between 10 pm and 6 am). 

Furthermore, the executing officer must give the property owner a copy of the warrant. They must also issue a receipt of the property removed to the owner. If the owner is not around at the time of the warrant execution, the officer must drop a copy of the receipt at the premises. The receipt/inventory of property seized shall be made by the executing officer and signed in the presence of the property owner (if they are present) or in the presence of at least one witness (if the property owner is absent). 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

It depends. Delaware laws regulating search and seizure do not explicitly state or reference a timeline for issuing search warrants. The time it may take to get a search warrant depends on the filing procedures. 

Under Del. Code 29 § 2306, the complainant must file the complaint in writing, sign the document, and attach an affidavit. Thus, factors that may influence how long it takes to get a warrant include how long it takes the complainant to gather evidence to establish probable cause that justifies a search. If the judge, justice of the peace, or magistrate is convinced that the evidence provided in the complaint constitutes probable cause for the search, the warrant is issued (Del. Code 29 § 2307).

What is an Arrest Warrant in Delaware?

An arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement to bring an individual into custody under the suspicion that they have committed a crime. However, law enforcement agents do not always need warrants to make arrests, especially for traffic offenses. A peace officer may arrest a person who commits a misdemeanor without a warrant if it was committed in the presence of the officer or subject to other conditions stated in Del. Code 11 § 1904

A warrant for the arrest of a person can only be issued by any magistrate, the judge of a superior court, the court of common pleas, or other justice of a peace court authorized to issue warrants in criminal cases. An arrest warrant will be signed when a peace officer files a complaint affixed with an affidavit establishing probable cause for reasonable grounds for believing that the named individual(s) has indeed committed a felony or misdemeanor. 

An arrest warrant will also be issued where a previous offender on parole commits another offense during the probation or violates the terms of their probation. It is immaterial whether the offense was committed within or outside the state (Del. Code 11 § 1906). 

Note that warrant arrests are lawful even if the officer does not possess the warrant at the time of the arrest. However, the peace officer must provide the warrant within a reasonable time upon the arrestee's request.

Arrest Warrant Lookup in Delaware

The Delaware Criminal Justice Information System (DELJIS) is the state's central database for criminal information. The agency maintains an online wanted person review system that provides up-to-date information on all outstanding warrants issued by Delaware Courts. 

A searcher may find the following information in a warrant lookup, including first and last name, date of birth, race, sex, case history, warrant number, DUC number, issuing court, type of warrant, and reason for issuing the warrant. Inquirers may also contact local police departments and municipal courts for information on active warrants. 

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in Delaware

When an individual reasonably believes or suspects they have been named in an active or outstanding warrant, they must confirm the warrant's existence and resolve it immediately. Resolving a warrant involves turning oneself into police custody or the court. Nevertheless, it is best to seek the services of an experienced criminal justice attorney, depending on the case. 

The first place to check for an arrest warrant is the DELJIS Online Wanted Person Review site. All courts, local jails, prisons, and law enforcement agencies in Delaware report directly to the Criminal Justice Information System. Interested searchers can use this to their advantage as the database offers a robust source of information for their search. 

Another option is to contact the issuing court. Concerned persons may contact the relevant Delaware Courts court clerk in the municipality where they have an open court case or a summons to attend a court hearing. The court clerk may provide information on the nature of their warrant and how to resolve it. 

Similarly, inquirers can find information about an active warrant by contacting law enforcement directly. Law enforcement officials are authorized by statute and court orders to execute warrants. As such, they maintain records of wanted persons and warrant information for offenders in their jurisdiction. Police departments may also maintain records of fugitive warrants identifying wanted persons who have fled other jurisdictions after committing a criminal offense. A Delaware fugitive warrant is a type of warrant that is issued in jurisdiction A and executed in jurisdiction B. For example, if a fugitive warrant is issued for the arrest of a John Doe in New Castle County and they flee to Kent County, John Doe may be arrested by an officer of the law while in Kent County.  

When contacting law enforcement to ask about an active warrant, bear in mind that if there is an outstanding arrest or capias warrant on the inquirer, they will be arrested immediately. Thus, persons unwilling to risk arrest in this manner should consult an attorney before speaking to or visiting the police. 

Free Warrant Search in Delaware

Researchers can conduct a warrant search without paying service or subscription fees through the Delaware Criminal Information Justice System (DELJIS). This service allows all internet users to access their warrant information systems for free. Interested persons may also find warrants issued in Delaware through third-party search sites. Although they are commonly paid services, there are services that offer free trials and low-cost search alternatives. 

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

The state of Delaware has a central database for finding warrant information online. Inquirers can find out if a person has a warrant for their possible arrest via the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System Online Wanted Person Review. Searchers can query this database using the first and last name of the person of interest.  

Another viable alternative is third-party search services. However, unlike official resources, third-party search sites are owned by private individuals and are not affiliated with the government. Third-party sites have little to no geographical restrictions, so using them may help find warrants in several jurisdictions. However, access to these services comes at a one-time charge or subscription fee. 

How Long Do Warrants Last in Delaware?

It depends. Generally, arrest warrants in Delaware do not expire. They remain enforceable and active until recalled by the court or until the person(s) named are apprehended and taken into custody. 

On the other hand, search warrants often have a lifespan. A judge or magistrate issuing the warrant will typically specify that the warrant must be returned to court if unexecuted by a set date. This is typically within three to ten days from the warrant's signing. After the time has elapsed, such a search warrant is no longer active or actionable and must be returned to the court. Arrest and capias warrants, on the other hand, may be executed at any time or place within the state's jurisdiction.

Delaware Warrant Search
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