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South Carolina Warrant Search

A "warrant" refers to a specific type of authorization known as a writ, typically issued by a qualified official such as a court or magistrate. This writ allows law enforcement to carry out actions like arrest, detention, or search that would otherwise be considered unlawful and violate someone's rights. It protects the individual executing the writ from legal repercussions if the authorized action is carried out.

South Carolina law enforcement issues warrants when they reasonably suspect an individual has committed a crime. The issuance of a warrant signifies that, in their assessment, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a crime has occurred.

In South Carolina, a warrant search involves determining whether active warrants have been issued against a person. This process usually entails searching through court records and law enforcement databases where these records are hosted. Inquirers may conduct these searches for personal reasons or for official purposes. Whatever the case, the procedure used to retrieve the information of interest will determine how it can be used 

Are Warrants Public Records in South Carolina?

Yes, warrants are generally considered public records per South Carolina's Freedom of Information Law. However, custodians of these records may choose to withhold certain records from public disclosure if they believe it could jeopardize an ongoing investigation or expose a juvenile's personal information. This is particularly true for search warrants, as although they are public documents, they are only made public once they are executed by law enforcement.

Types of Warrants in South Carolina

There are various types of warrants in South Carolina, each with a distinct function. They are as follows:

  • Arrest warrants: Arrest warrants are granted when a law enforcement officer persuades a magistrate or municipal judge that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the person listed in the request committed a crime. Both felonies and misdemeanors may result in the issuance of warrants.
  • Bench warrants: A bench warrant, also known as a failure to appear warrant, is obtained when a defendant misses a scheduled court appearance. It gives the sheriff's office the right to arrest the defendant and transfer them to jail, where they will remain until their failure to appear is handled.
  • Fugitive warrant/ extradition: A fugitive warrant is a kind of arrest warrant issued to capture someone who has committed a crime in another state but is currently in the state, according to section 17-9-10 of the South Carolina legislature. It allows South Carolina authorities to detain a fugitive for up to 20 days before deciding whether to drop all charges against them or extradite them to another state where they must face justice for their offenses.
  • Search warrant: A South Carolina search warrant is an order signed by a magistrate or judge that permits law enforcement to search a specific individual at a designated location.

What is a Search Warrant in South Carolina?

The state of South Carolina issues a search warrant that authorizes officials, typically law enforcement personnel, to look for and seize items. According to South Carolina's Code of Laws 17-13-155, a no-knock search warrant is any warrant issued by a judge executed on a property without requiring the law enforcement officer to knock on the property and declare his presence and purpose.

 In South Carolina, any judge sitting in any court of record or any magistrate (or Recorder or City Judge exercising magistrate authority) with jurisdiction over the search area may issue a warrant. For instance, a magistrate in Marion County, South Carolina, might issue warrants for properties sought after in Marion County but not for those sought after in Lee County.

The South Carolina State Code, Section 17-13-140, specifies the conditions under which a search warrant may be issued for a property. The requirements for issuing a warrant are as follows:

  • Property that has been stolen or embezzled; 
  • Property whose possession is illegal; 
  • Property that is being used or has been used in the carrying out of a crime; 
  • Property that is concealed to prevent a crime from being discovered; 
  • Property that is evidence of a crime or that tends to demonstrate that a specific individual committed a crime;
  • Any narcotic drugs or other drugs that are restricted to sale, possession, or use on a prescription only and that are manufactured, possessed, sold, or prescribed in violation of any state or federal laws
  • It contains the Legal definition and purpose of search warrants within the state's legal framework. Outline the criteria for obtaining a search warrant, the process involved, and the rights and limitations of executing such warrants.

Law enforcement officials may request a warrant from a magistrate, municipal judge, or court of record; however, they must submit a signed statement under oath proving the existence of sufficient evidence and probable cause to establish that a search warrant can be granted. The magistrate, municipal judge, or other judicial authority may issue a warrant identifying the property and naming or describing the person or location to be searched if they are satisfied with the reasons for the warrant application. A South Carolina warrant must contain the following information:

  • The specific date and time it is issued;
  • Name of the recipient of the warrant;
  • The address and name of the person whose property is to be searched, or if the individual's identity is unknown, a description of the person;
  • The justification of the warrant;
  • The description of the article that was searched for.

After it is Approved, a search warrant granted in South Carolina must be executed and returned within ten days. A signed inventory of all items seized as a result of the warrant must be delivered by the officer(s) executing the warrant.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Search Warrant?

In South Carolina, the speed at which an individual can get a search warrant is contingent upon the quantity and quality of evidence presented to the judge to establish probable cause. This is influenced by other urgent situations, such as when law enforcement must move swiftly to prevent the destruction of evidence. In South Carolina, search warrants are often processed within a few hours or days.

What is an Arrest Warrant in South Carolina?

According to §17-13-160 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, an arrest warrant is a legal instrument that permits law enforcement personnel to detain, hold, and investigate a person for a criminal act as Authorized per §40-18-110 of the South Carolina Legislature.

South Carolina law prescribes that only a magistrate or judge can issue an arrest warrant. However, the state's attorney general determines the general format of a South Carolina warrant. An arrest warrant in South Carolina cannot be issued unless a law enforcement official acting in their capacity requests the arrest of the person being investigated. The court must issue a "courteous summons" if someone other than a law enforcement official requests an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant and a summons in South Carolina must contain the following information to be legal;

  •  An explanation of the accusations leveled against the accused;
  •  The trial's date, time, and location;
  •  The issuing officer's name;
  • The name, address, and phone number of the affiant and defendant;
  • The incident's date and location, and
  • Notification that a bench warrant for the defendant's arrest may be issued, or he may be tried while he is not present.

Arrest Warrant Lookup in South Carolina

Interested members of the public can perform arrest warrant lookups in South Carolina either online or in person through designated custodians and law enforcement agencies in the state. Courts issue arrest warrants, and per South Carolina laws, these warrants are recorded by court clerks and made available to interested persons upon a public records request. The following are the options for checking if there are any pending or active arrest warrants in South Carolina:

  • Contacting the warrant officer of a police department: Warrant officers are employees of a police department or county sheriff's office whose duty is to maintain information concerning active warrants in the state. Individuals can call the warrant officer to ask for a South Carolina arrest warrant lookup. To perform the lookup, the person will have to provide the full name of the subject of the search and details of their offense (if known).
  • Searching the online arrest warrant database of a local county sheriff or police department: These databases, which are approved for public distribution of law enforcement-related records, contain warrant information as reported by law enforcement agencies. This information can verify that any outstanding warrants are still in effect. For example, in Charleston County, citizens can use the county sheriff's database to look up arrest warrants.
  • Searching the South Carolina Law Enforcement database: This is a comprehensive database that individuals can use to search for active warrants state-wide
  • Visiting a private, third-party aggregate website that offers an arrest warrant search function.

How to Find Out If You Have a Warrant in South Carolina

One of the most reliable ways to learn about any outstanding warrants in South Carolina is to visit the state's courts. The courts maintain judicial records relevant to court proceedings within the state. This encompasses court dockets and information about arrest and bench warrants.

  Anyone can also contact warrant officers within the police department to find out about any outstanding warrants. Depending on the severity of the offense specified, the warrant officer may provide information about the status of an individual's warrant. For misdemeanors, warrant information is readily available via phone; however, for felonies, the warrant officer may withhold information and advise the subject to appear in person at the department.

Additionally, county sheriff's offices and police departments maintain online databases that people can use to enter their full name to check if they are the subject of an active arrest warrant. These portals will provide details regarding the alleged offenses and the duration of the warrant's validity.

Free Warrant Search in South Carolina

A free warrant search in South Carolina can be performed through online portals maintained by law enforcement agencies in the state. These platforms offer information regarding the offense, the subject of the warrant, and the type of warrant that was issued. Inquirers must supply the full name of a person of interest to start a search. Third-party aggregate sites also offer free warrant search options with limited results. While these sites are a convenient alternative to state-operated databases, users are advised to verify the information obtained through them with state custodians.

How to Find Out If Someone Has A Warrant Online

To determine if someone has an arrest or bench warrant in South Carolina, you can conduct an online warrant search. The first step is to check the online court public records section, where records of warrants issued by magistrates or courts are documented and made accessible for free. To initiate the search, you need to provide the full name of the individual in question.

Another avenue for searching is through online law enforcement databases, often maintained by county sheriffs. These databases typically include all active warrants within the sheriff's jurisdiction. Information may be presented in alphabetical order or allow users to submit queries using a person's name. For more serious offenses, consider consulting the county sheriff's online most wanted lists.

Alternatively, independent third-party websites can be utilized for a South Carolina warrant search. Keep in mind that these services may charge a fee for specific information. The advantage of using third-party sites is that they often cover multiple counties and cities in one search, although the cost varies between websites. Similar to official government platforms, most independent providers require the full name for conducting an inquiry.

How Long Do Warrants Last in South Carolina?

Arrest warrants are lifelong in South Carolina, and the police have authority over when to execute them. Although it is ideal for arrest warrants to be executed promptly, there is no set deadline for this. However, search warrants must be carried out within ten days of their issuance; otherwise, the issuing official must receive them back and invalidate them.

South Carolina Warrant Search
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  • And More!