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Ohio Court Records

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Ohio Warrant Search

An Ohio warrant is a written court order authorizing an action related to law enforcement that may be construed as illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional if conducted sans warrant. Judicial officers or their designees approve warrants in Ohio to enable only peace officers and law enforcement officers to conduct their official duty without risk of civil or criminal liability.

The motive behind a warrant's issuance could be that a person committed a criminal offense, failed to pay a court-ordered fine or cost, disobeyed a subpoena, or violated a term of probation. Nonetheless, these writs are not issued arbitrarily in Ohio. As stipulated in the Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution, "probable cause" must be found to validate a warrant's issue. Probable cause refers to a reasonable suspicion, backed by sufficient facts and circumstances, that an arrest, search, or seizure is justifiable under the law.

Members of the public may perform an Ohio warrant search through law enforcement agencies, courts, or third-party vendors for varying reasons. Most commonly, it is to confirm one's warrant status. In addition to identifying a subject, a warrant search can reveal the issuing jurisdiction, issue date, issue reason, offense category and code, court case number, and the subject's date of birth, physical description, and last known address. 

For private citizens and law enforcement agents, the information obtained from a warrant search presents some value in identifying or locating wanted persons and staying informed about potential threats within one's community. 

Are Warrants Public Records in Ohio

Yes. Warrants are public records per Ohio's Freedom of Information Act (otherwise termed the Ohio Public Records Act). Under the state's FOIA, the public can inspect or reproduce records maintained by law enforcement agencies, including records of outstanding warrants. 

Exceptions apply to the Ohio Public Records Act, however. Thus, records exempt under the Act or another relevant statute or regulation, whose release would jeopardize a legal process or the integrity of an investigation, or whose disclosure constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy are confidential in Ohio. For example, unexecuted search warrants are not open to the public in Ohio. Also, arrest warrants that may compromise a criminal investigation or a confidential informant's identity are confidential.

For further reading, a comprehensive list of Ohio public record exemptions is provided in Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code. 

Types of Warrants in Ohio

Judges, magistrates, clerks of court, or court officers designated by judges issue different kinds of warrants in Ohio. The more common types are the arrest, bench, and search warrants. 

Arrest Warrant: An arrest warrant enables the apprehension of a person suspected of a crime. 

Search Warrant: A writ that permits police officers to search and seize property tied to criminal events or activities.

Bench Warrant: A bench warrant directs a peace officer to arrest or detain an individual for failing to appear for a court hearing/trial or obey a court order. Although a bench warrant is a kind of arrest warrant, state law does not require an affidavit from a law enforcement officer attesting to the reasonability or legitimacy of the warrant. This is because probable cause is already established based on what happened or did not happen in a judge's presence.

Peace Warrant or Warrant to Keep the Peace: This type of warrant is issued in line with Section 2933.02 of the Ohio Revised Code. A municipal or county court judge issues this warrant upon the complaint of a person who fears or has cause to fear that another individual will commit an offense against their person, property, ward, or child. The warrant instructs a sheriff or another designated police officer to arrest the person complained of and bring them to court to answer the complaint.

Tracking Device Warrant: A warrant issued by a court of record's judge that allows the police to use an electronic or mechanical device to track a person or property's movement. 

What is a Search Warrant in Ohio?

Rule 41 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure defines a "search warrant" as an order issued by a court of record's judge that instructs the police to search and seize property found within the court's territorial jurisdiction. ("Courts of record" are trial or appellate courts that preserve records of proceedings in case of an appeal.) Ohio search warrants are issued under Chapter 2933 of the state's Revised Code or Crim.R. 41.

The basis for any search warrant's issue in Ohio is "probable cause," which must be established by an affidavit prepared and signed by a law enforcement officer that: 

  1. Particularly describes the place or person to be searched or the property or thing to be seized, and
  2. States a reasonable cause, supported by facts, for why the officer (the "affiant") believes criminal evidence may be found at the place or on the person. 

A search warrant affidavit may also include a waiver of the statutory prerequisite for nonconsensual entry per Ohio Rev. Code § 2933.231. If such a provision exists, the officer or other authorized person executing the warrant may break down a door or window to enter and execute the warrant if refused admittance. 

In determining to issue a search warrant in Ohio, a judge or magistrate may demand additional supporting evidence. The judicial officer may also require the affiant to appear personally or by reliable electronic means to defend their application. When satisfied that appropriate grounds exist, the judge or magistrate will issue the warrant. The Ohio legislature, in Section 2933.21, establishes grounds upon which a search warrant may be released: 

  • To search for and seize any evidence of the commission of a crime;
  • To search for and seize any contraband, fruits of crime, or other things criminally possessed; or
  • To search for and seize weapons, instruments, tools, or other items used to commit a crime or in the possession of someone with intent.

An Ohio search warrant bears the following contents: 

  • The specific property to be seized and the name or description of the person or place to be searched
  • The county where issued
  • The issuing judge or magistrate
  • The nature of the offense leading to the warrant's issue
  • A command to the affiant officer or other authorized person to search the place or person named or described therein and bring any seized evidence or person before the judge or magistrate

Ohio search warrants are executable during the day (defined by state law as the hours from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) unless a warrant permits a nighttime search. Crim.R. 41(D) describes how these warrants are executed. Search warrants in Ohio have a three-day, or 72-hour, execution period, after which they become invalid.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

The timeline until an affiant police officer obtains a search warrant in Ohio varies. Although state law and the US Constitution require "the finding of probable cause" before a judge or magistrate can approve a search warrant in Ohio, these regulations do not establish a timeframe for this. 

Generally, the issuance of a search warrant depends on how quickly an affiant law enforcement officer can convince a judge or magistrate that the warrant is necessary. A judge's availability and a case's complexity also factor into the issue timeline, which may span a few hours or extend to some days.

What is an Arrest Warrant in Ohio?

An arrest warrant in Ohio is a formal document issued by a judge, magistrate, clerk of court, or court official designated by a judge under Ohio Rev. Code § 2935.08 or Criminal Rule 4. It allows peace officers to make an arrest. Like search warrants, arrest warrants are issued upon probable cause—in this case, probable cause that enough facts exist for a suspect to be arrested. 

According to state law, a member of the police force must file an affidavit or complaint with a court to obtain an arrest warrant. The application must establish probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred and the to-be subject of the warrant committed it. Then, the judicial officer, upon finding reasonable grounds, will issue an arrest warrant for execution or service by the affiant officer or any police officer authorized by law.

An Ohio arrest warrant contains the following details: 

  • The defendant's first name and last name, as well as any recent changes. If unknown, any name or description with which the accused can be reasonably identified (However, petitioners must exercise caution in this case to ensure that they are adequately identified);
  • A description of the offense necessitating the warrant request;
  • Whether the warrant was issued before the accused appeared or was scheduled to appear. Where a warrant is issued after a defendant made or failed to make an initial appearance, the warrant will authorize the defendant's arrest and any of the following:
    • That the individual post bail (a sum of cash or secured bail bond) and appear before the issuing court at a set time and date
    • That the individual be held without bail until brought before the issuing court without unnecessary delay 
  • The numerical designation of the relevant statute or ordinance

Although an Ohio arrest warrant is issued within a particular jurisdiction, it can be executed anywhere in the Buckeye State. Further, at the time of arrest, a police officer does not need to have the warrant on hand. Instead, the accused can be informed of the offense and the warrant's existence. Per the law, the accused must also be promptly furnished with a copy of the warrant. 

Generally, an arrest warrant is only deemed executed or served upon the arrest of its subject. Thus, people named on such a warrant in Ohio are strongly encouraged to speak to an attorney and turn themselves in.

Arrest Warrant Lookup in Ohio

Certain information is necessary to conduct an arrest warrant lookup in Ohio, such as a subject's full name and date of birth or age. Having an arresting agency's details is also essential when searching government repositories. 

Recommended avenues to conduct an arrest warrant lookup in Ohio include: 

  • Visiting or contacting a local authority. Members of the public can contact or stop by the office that preserves a warrant record during regular business hours. This is often the local law enforcement agency that made the arrest or the local court of jurisdiction, i.e., where the associated court case is open. 
  • Accessing online databases available locally. Many local courts and police agencies provide a warrant list or database on their official websites to aid public warrant searches.
  • Accessing a reputable public record (or third-party) website to search for warrant information.

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in Ohio

An approach one may use to determine if they have an active or outstanding warrant in Ohio is to check the records of a law enforcement department. This police department may be in the county or city where they currently or previously resided, where they conduct or conducted business, or may have visited. If having an open case in a court, the interested individual can also check with the court clerk. One's full name and date of birth are often needed for a warrant search through these agencies.

Ohio has no statewide warrant check database, and local police divisions and courts only maintain records within their jurisdictions. As such, persons who wish to search multiple jurisdictions for active warrants must check with each respective county or city authority. However, engaging an attorney to confirm existing warrants may be more efficient. One may also use a third-party database for a comprehensive search, although care must be taken to verify the warrant information retrieved.

It should be noted that only some warrants are available for public inspection in Ohio. As a result, a person may only find out they are subject to a warrant after the police come to their residence or place of business or employment. In some cases, one may be denied entry into the United States or detained at a border because of an active warrant. 

Free Warrant Search in Ohio

Warrant search portals maintained by local police departments and courts are typically provided to the public at no cost. As such, anyone who wants to conduct a free warrant search in Ohio may explore official warrant databases or lists offered locally—for example, the Grove City Police Department's Warrant List.

Another option to conduct a free warrant search in Ohio is to stop by the police agency or court to inspect warrant records. Per the state's open records policy, in-person requesters are not usually charged for record reviews. However, requesters who are also subjects of warrants should note that their inquiry may trigger an arrest response from the police.

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

Online research to determine if a person has an active warrant in Ohio can be conducted via public web pages or portals provided by local authorities. 

For example, the Montgomery County General Division Common Pleas Court provides a case search database to find cases where a warrant may have been issued. Similarly, the Franklin County Municipal Court has a Court Access and Search Engine (CASE) portal for finding outstanding warrants issued regionally, and the Painesville Municipal Court maintains an Active Warrants List for interested members of the public.

At the same time, individuals searching for active warrants in Clark County and Mercer County can access their local sheriffs' Active Felony Warrants and Warrant Search databases, respectively.

Typically, a researcher requires at least a last name to search an official web portal to determine if someone has a warrant, except when the information is presented as a list. 

How Long Do Warrants Last in Ohio?

Generally, an Ohio warrant remains active until executed, the subject dies, or the court quashes or recalls the warrant. However, an exception to this general rule is a search warrant. Per Crim.R. 41(C)(2), search warrants are only valid for 72 hours unless the court grants an extension.

Ohio Warrant Search
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