Massachusetts Court Records
Massachusetts Warrant Search
A warrant is a legal document issued by a court authorizing Massachusetts law enforcement to perform a given action. This action may include the arrest of an alleged criminal or an individual who has failed to fulfill a judicial demand or appear in court. It could also be the permission to conduct a search related to suspected criminal activity or seize a property. Warrants are designed to protect the executing officers from civil or criminal liability while performing their official duties.
Interested persons may conduct a Massachusetts warrant search by querying the police department, Sheriff's office, or courthouses in the judicial district where it was issued. Warrant records are also included in the iCORI database, which the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) maintains. Additionally, private services and third-party websites can also provide warrant search services.
Individuals may opt to initiate a warrant search for personal or official purposes and, occasionally, as a component of a background verification process. Whatever the case, conducting a Massachusetts warrant search yields essential details about the individual named in the warrant. This typically includes the subject's first name and last name, physical descriptions (such as gender, race, height, eye color, and weight), and address. Furthermore, a warrant search can furnish inquirers with information about the offense for which the warrant was issued and details about the court that authorized the warrant.
Are Warrants Public Records in Massachusetts?
Yes. In Massachusetts, warrants are considered public records according to General Law - Part I, Title X, Chapter 66, Section 10. Thus, interested persons may access warrant records unless they are classified as confidential or sealed based on specific legal provisions or court orders. However, as a general rule, details deemed private and warrants linked to cases involving a minor are typically not accessible to the public.
Furthermore, a warrant may be sealed when its issuance marks the commencement of an investigation or when the case is still ongoing and particularly sensitive. However, there are scenarios where only certain aspects of a warrant may be restricted from public access.
Types of Warrants in Massachusetts
There are various types of warrants in Massachusetts. Each of which caters to a range of legal situations and serves distinct purposes. Some of the types of warrants issued in Massachusetts are as follows:
- Straight warrant: Commonly referred to as an arrest warrant, this legal document empowers law enforcement officers to apprehend and detain an individual before presenting them before a judge. It is typically issued when there is solid evidence to reasonably believe that the individual has committed or is involved in a crime. The issuance of an arrest warrant is grounded in the need to ensure that the judicial process is upheld and that individuals facing criminal allegations are brought before the court to address the charges against them.
- Search warrant: A search warrant, as outlined in the General Law - Part IV, Title II, Chapter 276, Section 1, is granted upon submitting an affidavit and oath from a complainant. This asserts that an item or property is concealed within a specific location, including stolen property, items acquired through fraudulent means, illegal items, or an instrument intended for use or already used in the commission of a crime. It's worth noting that a search warrant can also be issued to search for a living person or a body.
- Default warrant: Often referred to as a bench warrant, this type of warrant is directly issued by the court when an individual fails to appear for a scheduled court appearance, violates a court order, or breaches the terms of probation. The subject of the warrant may be subject to arrest based on the case's specific details.
Other types of warrant in the state include witness and capias warrant.
What is a Search Warrant in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, a search warrant is an official authorization issued by a magistrate, empowering a law enforcement officer to search an individual at a specific location or seize any property suspected of being associated with a crime. This authority can be granted in the following scenarios:
- Cases involving stolen property, embezzled assets, or items acquired through deceit;
- Properties or articles used, or intended to be used, as tools or instruments for the commission of an offense. This encompasses modified, altered, or marked instruments prepared or used to conceal a crime;
- Instances of unlawful possession of a weapon or property;
- Searches for a person's body or an individual for whom there is an outstanding arrest warrant.
In the United States, the Fourth Amendment safeguards the rights of citizens, ensuring that neither individuals nor their residences can be searched or their property seized without sufficient probable cause to believe that illegal activity is present. Consequently, law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant to conduct any search. In keeping with the state's legal provisions, securing a search warrant necessitates the submission of an affidavit outlining the specific details and reasonable grounds for the warrant to be issued.
Under no circumstance in the state is a search permitted without a warrant. Moreover, a search warrant is not permissible for the search or seizure of documentary evidence held by a psychotherapist, attorney, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or clergy member believed to have a connection with a subject of the search warrant. An exception only arises if there is substantial cause to believe that evidence would be lost or destroyed without the immediate execution of a search. This is stipulated under General Law - Part IV, Title II, Chapter 276, Section 1.
Typically, in Massachusetts, a judge determines the validity of a search warrant, and it expires after five working days. It is essential to recognize that warrants often specify a time frame for the search.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?
Massachusetts search warrants are issued quickly and no later than 7 days after the application, in accordance with General Law - Part IV, Title II, Chapter 276, Section 2B. Following the submission of an affidavit containing the necessary facts and data establishing probable cause, a judge is mandated to issue the search warrant if the evidence submitted justifies it.
What is an Arrest Warrant in Massachusetts?
According to Massachusetts General Laws 276-21, arrest warrants can be issued by justices of the superior, district, and supreme courts—these documents authorize the detention of an individual suspected of criminal involvement.
A Massachusetts arrest warrant is granted after a petition of law enforcement to the judiciary haven established probable cause for the alleged offender's connection to the crime. An arrest warrant may be issued if an individual fails to appear for a court date or violates probation or an order.
An arrest warrant typically includes information regarding the individual and the nature of the alleged offense. Where necessary, it may also include a note of caution for the executing agency and whether only peace officers in a jurisdiction can execute it. Where necessary, the issuing court may direct the warrant to some other persons. Notwithstanding, while the details of the arrest and the description of the subject should be accurately included, General Law - Part IV, Title II, Chapter 276, Section 23A allows for the provision that even if the description of a person on a warrant is not entirely accurate, it does not necessarily render the warrant invalid. Furthermore, if some of these details are not provided, the individual seeking the warrant can apply to the court clerk for an exemption.
Arrest Warrant Lookup in Massachusetts
Individuals seeking to look up Massachusetts arrest warrants can utilize online resources or contact the relevant agencies responsible for issuing or executing the warrant. While certain counties occasionally provide a list of active arrest warrants, the most accessible records are those linked to other documents, such as a criminal record.
Researchers can initiate their search by browsing the websites of the Sheriff's office, the Department of Police, or any of the courts within the judicial district where the warrant was issued. Alternatively, the inquirer can visit any of the offices or courthouses in person to make inquiries. They may need to provide details regarding the warrant to facilitate the search.
Additionally, requesters may access the iCORI database to search for arrest warrants, as they are included in the comprehensive criminal record document generated by law enforcement officers. To utilize this service, individuals must have an account and must pay a fee for the search, depending on the criminal record being sought. When using the database, requesters must provide the name and date of birth of the individual in question.
The processing time for these requests can take up to 10 days, and the information accessible through this database may not be as comprehensive or detailed as desired if it is not a personal request.
Inquirers may also explore third-party websites. These private sites offer the benefits of a statewide search and user-friendly navigation. However, it's important to note that a fee may be required, particularly if the requester desires a copy of the warrant.
How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in Massachusetts
To find out if you have a warrant in Massachusetts, contact the police or Sheriff's department in the jurisdiction where it was likely issued to inquire about an active Massachusetts warrant in your name. Inquiries may be made online, in person, or over the phone. In cases where a department does not disclose such information over the phone, it is best to seek legal advice before visiting the office. Some agencies make a warrant list available online. For example, residents in Attleboro County can access this list on the Attleboro Police Department site.
Inquirers may also review court cases on the county court websites. If relevant to the case, a warrant would be featured within the case record. Members of the public can also visit the courthouse in person to request records or submit an inquiry via mail. For instance, inquirers can fill out and submit the Release Request Form (CJP 34) provided by the Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts.
Citizens can also inquire about active warrants from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security or contact the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) to request criminal records. They can also submit a request to DCJIS online, contact them by calling (617) 660-4600, or send a request to the following address:
Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
Agapi Koulouris, Primary RAO
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150
Free Warrant Search in Massachusetts
Most Massachusetts agencies offering access to warrant records do not charge for the information. However, if an individual wishes to obtain a copy of the document, they will be charged the cost of duplication. Free warrant searches may also be performed in person by visiting the custodial offices, such as the Sheriff's office, police department, courthouses, or DCJIS offices. When conducting a warrant search, the requester may need to provide the subject's name and any other relevant details, depending on the specific requirements of the custodian.
How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online
In Massachusetts, police departments and Sheriff's offices publish lists of general warrants and "most wanted" offenders online. Inquirers must verify whether the county of interest offers this service on their official website.
Members of the public may also find out if someone has a warrant online by using private aggregate websites. Many third-party platforms provide access to warrant information at the federal and state levels. However, to access detailed information and obtain a copy of the warrant, the inquirer may need to create an account, pay a subscription fee, or make a one-time payment. These sites also require the inquirer to provide information with which to facilitate the search, including the subject's name, birth date, the county of issuance, and any other parameters that will narrow the search results. However, information obtained through third-party repositories is best confirmed from official sources since the reliability of the records they maintain cannot be absolutely assured.
How Long Do Warrants Last in Massachusetts?
The length of time for which a warrant remains valid in Massachusetts varies with the type of warrant.
A search warrant has a specific validity period, after which it becomes invalid, necessitating law enforcement officers to obtain a new order from the issuing court if the need for further search arises. Fortunately, the petitioner is not required to initiate the application process afresh. However, to dissuade misuse, they may indicate recent changes in the circumstances surrounding the arrest and its execution. They may also highlight important aspects of the prior search attempt (if applicable).
Conversely, arrest and bench warrants remain active until they are canceled by a judge or magistrate or until the individual subject to the warrant fulfills the court's obligations or is apprehended by peace officers.