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Illinois Court Records

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Illinois Warrant Search

An Illinois warrant is a writ issued by a magistrate judge or to a police officer or a member of any state, county, or municipal law enforcement officer who is responsible for keeping the peace in their jurisdiction. 

Warrants are legal documents that authorize peace officers to take specific action without risk of civil or criminal liability or otherwise violating human rights. Generally, warrants are issued when law enforcement seeks to search, seize, or arrest a person and bring them before the court. 

An Illinois warrant search is a means of finding if an individual has an active warrant against them or their property. It also aids police officers from other jurisdictions to identify and arrest wanted persons in a different jurisdiction. 

The Circuit court clerk and the state law enforcement agencies (Illinois State Police and local police departments) are the custodians of warrant information in Illinois. A warrant search can be performed via these sources: the Illinois State Police, county sheriffs', and Illinois court clerks. Individuals may also obtain a Statewide Criminal History Transcript from the Illinois State Police, as criminal history information typically encompasses active or executed warrants.

Are Warrants Public Records in Illinois?

Yes. Illinois warrants are publicly available records that can be accessed through the custodians at state and local government agencies. However, they are only available for as long as the statute of limitation for the offense stated in the warrant. So, if the statute of limitation for the crime has lapsed, the warrant will also become invalid and no longer constitute a public record. Nevertheless, it can still be accessed by judicial officers and law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, 20 ILCS 2635/5 of the Illinois Uniform Conviction Information Act provides that all conviction and criminal history information collected and maintained by the Illinois state police shall be open to public inspection.

Search warrants typically do not constitute public records before they are executed. Just like other forms of warrants, they may be part of public records if they are part of court documents related to a case. However, their availability is subject to local judicial law.

Types of Warrants in Illinois

The legal system and the courts in Illinois recognize three main types of warrants. While the execution of these warrants may appear similar, they are fundamentally different.

  1. Arrest Warrants: An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate allowing law enforcement officers to arrest a person or people named in the warrant and place them in detention. Arrest warrants are obtained after the police file an affidavit with probable cause that an individual has committed an act that violates the state's criminal statutes.
  2. Search Warrants: A search warrant is a legal document issued by a judge following a written complaint by any person under oath that presents probable cause to believe that a person committed an offense and has incriminating evidence or materials connected to that offense. A search warrant authorizes police officers to search a person, their premises, or property and seize any evidence found.
  3. Bench Warrants: A bench warrant is also called an outstanding warrant. The judge issues it without a preceding request from a police officer. A bench warrant authorizes the police to arrest a person and bring them before the court or remand them until a scheduled court date. It is typically issued when an individual fails to appear for a court hearing or comply with a court order. A bench warrant may be recalled where the defendant takes proactive steps to resolve the situation, and the reason for absence is legitimate and verifiable.

What is a Search Warrant in Illinois?

Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to be secure in their person, property, and possessions against unreasonable searches, seizures, and undue invasion of privacy. This section is, however, subject to a search and seizure clause: "No warrant shall be issued without probable cause, and must be supported by an affidavit describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." This is similar to the provisions of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. These provisions are a protection against unreasonable search and seizure. 

Considering the above rights, the state laid down the grounds for issuing search warrants in Illinois. According to 725 ILCS 5/108-3 (Illinois Compiled Statutes), any competent judge of jurisdiction may issue a search warrant where any person files a written complaint under oath or an affidavit which contains sufficient statements of facts to show probable cause and definitively describe the place or individual, or both to be searched and items to be seized. Illinois laws differ from other states as the law does not limit the ability to submit a written complaint to law enforcement agencies only but makes it a right all citizens can enforce.

Under the law, the following are listed as items that can be listed in search warrants and subsequently seized:

  • Any tool or article designed or created to commit an offense or already used to commit an offense;
  • Anny instrument which may form part of the evidence for the offense the warrant was issued in respect to contrabands, stolen items, or anything obtained illegally;
  • Any person who has been kidnapped in Illinois or another jurisdiction but is being held in Illinois;
  • Any human fetus or corpse. 

When an item to be seized is a work tool or used in the normal business activities of a media house, news, or broadcast media personnel, the judge may only issue a search warrant if the rule in section 108-3 is established. The complainant has probable cause to believe that the named person is or has committed a criminal offense, and the things to be seized will be destroyed or taken out of the state if the warrant is not issued.

A search warrant will be executed by only peace officers, police officers, or any person specifically named in the warrant. It must be executed within 96 hours from its issuing (four days). The executing police officer or agency must give a duplicate copy of the warrant to the person whose item was seized or at the location of the search. Finally, they are only authorized to seize items listed on the warrant. Seizing items outside those listed on the arrest warrant or searching a location or person not named or described in the warrant shall constitute an unreasonable search and seizure.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

An application to obtain a search or seizure warrant in Illinois must be directed to the magistrate judge. No timeline is provided in the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure (725 ILCS 5/Art. 108 Search and Seizure) or any other relevant law. The average time it might take to acquire a search warrant depends on various factors. The most common one is how long it takes the police or other applicant to produce an affidavit or oath with substantial facts showing probable cause sufficient to convince the magistrate judge to approve and sign a search or seizure warrant. 

An application may also be delayed by additional requirements and formalities within the jurisdiction where the warrant is to be issued, the number of affiants (witnesses), and whether a judge is available to review and sign the warrant application. 

In time-sensitive cases where the complainant has probable cause to believe a person is in imminent danger or the subject of the warrant might flee the state or be removed to a location outside the court's jurisdiction, the application and approval process may be expedited.

What is an Arrest Warrant in Illinois?

725 ILCS 5/107-1 of the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure explains an arrest warrant as a written order from a court commanding a peace officer(any officer or member of a state, county, or city law enforcement office, Department of Defense, or the police force) or an individual specifically named (for example, the police officer who applied for the warrant) to arrest and take into custody the party named in the warrant. A peace officer or member of a law enforcement officer may exercise their authority to arrest a person when:

  • They have an active warrant for the arrest of such person;
  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant for the person's arrest has been issued in the state or other jurisdiction;
  • The police have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an offense.

A complaint or application to obtain an arrest warrant must be presented to a court, stating that an offense has been committed. This complaint must be made under oath. It must also be in writing and state the name or definitive description of the accused (including date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height and weight, and identifiable features), the offense, and the time and place of the offense. 725 ILCS 5/107-9 requires all arrest warrants issued in Illinois to:

  • Be in writing;
  • Indicate the first name, sex, date of birth, and other details and descriptions the person can be identified with;
  • State the nature of their offense (felony, misdemeanor, failure to appear in court);
  • State the date and county of issuance;
  • Be signed by the competent judge or in the title of the judge's office;
  • Authorize a peace officer or other person named to arrest and bring before the court the subject of the warrant, amongst other important requirements.

Individuals who want to resolve their arrest warrants are advised to conduct a warrant look and be informed of the details contained in the warrant, contact a criminal defense attorney (if they can), or present themselves to the police or the court.

Arrest Warrant Lookup in Illinois

The Illinois state police maintains an online catalog for wanted persons for warrants issued to the State Police. The site contains information on authorized warrants for their arrest, including - the case number, name, sex, race, age, physical features, warrant number, authorization, date of issuance, offense, bond information, and additional warrants from county sheriff's offices. Researchers may also find warrant information through their local Sheriff's office or police departments. For example, the Lake County Sheriff's Office has an updated list of active warrants in the county, which they make available on their official website. Interested persons may perform a search query on third-party websites.

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in Illinois

Every person who knows or suspects they have an arrest or bench warrant has a responsibility to resolve it immediately. A warrant will not be canceled or recalled if it is ignored. The police or other law enforcement agencies can serve a warrant and take the individual into custody at any time or place. Concerned persons should visit the warrant search site of the enforcing agency in the county where the warrant was issued. If unable to find information online, visit a local police station to have them check in person. If there is an active warrant for the person's arrest, the police might detain them immediately. 

For bench warrants (failure to appear in court), the defendant should go to the courthouse or have an attorney represent them to schedule future hearings or an appeal. The bench warrant may be canceled when the defendant submits a legitimate and verifiable reason for absence from a court hearing. 

Search warrants are usually valid for only four days from the time it is issued; the subject of the warrant usually has no notice of the impending search, so it may be impossible for an individual to find out they have a search warrant before it is executed. However, they can contest the admission of evidence seized from their person or property on lack of probable cause or false information in the affidavit supporting probable cause. 

Free Warrant Search in Illinois

Interested persons can find warrant information for free through any database maintained by county or city sheriffs or police departments. These free search options allow users to find warrant information on individuals within a county, city, or municipality. Researchers can search warrant information by name, last location, and offense or other relevant details. For example, the Wills County Sheriff's Office has an online list of outstanding warrants

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

To find out if a person has an active warrant online in Illinois, first check the search at the Illinois State Police 'wanted persons' site, then proceed to look through the websites of local law enforcement agencies. Most counties in Illinois maintain an online database of warrant information with details of individuals who have committed or are suspected to have committed an offense against the state's criminal laws. 

Alternatively, researchers may find information on active warrants through third-party search platforms. Third-party sites often compile warrant information from multiple government sources and make it available in one place, providing a broader search database for the user.

How Long Do Warrants Last in Illinois?

Arrest and bench warrants are active and publicly available until they are resolved, executed, or canceled by court order. An active arrest warrant means that the police can arrest the wanted person anywhere and at any time, no matter how long ago the warrant was issued. They do not expire. Warrants remain valid until the subject is arrested and brought before the court to face legal penalties. On the other hand, search warrants cease to be valid after 96 hours/four days. After that time lapses, they are no longer valid and cannot be acted upon.

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Illinois Warrant Search