A law enforcement officer entering a home with a warrant in hand is a traditional scene for most fictional shows on TV and movies depicting the criminal justice system in the U.S. But how do warrants work in a criminal case in real life? Our criminal defense attorneys explain what you need to know about warrants in Florida and what you should do if a warrant has been issued against you.

What Are Three Common Types of Criminal Warrants in Florida?

In a criminal case, there are three types of warrant most commonly issued by a judge for different reasons. These include an arrest warrant, a bench warrant, and a violation of probation warrant. In some cases, a judge may also issue a search warrant for someone’s dwelling or personal property.

An arrest warrant is issued after the police have presented a judge with enough probable cause that someone has committed a crime. It gives the police authority to search, arrest and detain an individual. This person will be taken to jail and, in some cases, may post bond and be released until their court date.

A bench warrant is less serious but also calls for someone’s arrest after missing a mandatory court date. Police will not actively search for someone with a bench warrant, but if you get pulled over during a traffic stop (for example), you may end up being arrested if you have an active bench warrant against you.

A violation of probation warrant is issued when a judge is presented with enough evidence to demonstrate someone has violated the terms of their probation. The probationer may or may not be eligible for bond, depending on the crime.

How Are Search Warrants Used in a Criminal Case – and How Can You Determine if They Are Legal?

According to Florida Statutes Chapter 933, a search warrant gives law enforcement authority to search through someone’s dwelling or personal property in an attempt to recover incriminating evidence to justify charging that individual with a crime. The warrant will contain a description of the exact area where the police are allowed to search. If illegal items such as drugs are found, the police may then arrest the suspect and apprehend the objects to be used as evidence. Evidence obtained through a search that is deemed illegal is usually inadmissible in court, so one of the defense strategies attorneys use is to question the legality of a search.

Where Can I Find Out if There Is an Active Warrant for My Arrest – And What Should I Do?

In Florida, there are a few different online resources that allow you to search for outstanding warrants for free. The FDLE website enables anyone to use the Florida Criminal Information Center (FCIC) Public Records Search Page, which contains a database of active warrants throughout the state. Not all warrants show up on the FDLE website, so you may have to search the sheriff’s office website of the county where the crime occurred.

Some law enforcement officers may be holding warrants before entering them into the system, causing the warrants not to show up in search results. If you found that there is an active warrant for your arrest, or if you believe a warrant has been issued even though it is not showing up on search results, your best move is to contact a criminal defense attorney to verify that the warrant has the correct information and to work out a plan to resolve the warrant and the underlying charge.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

If you have an outstanding warrant against you or have been arrested after a search warrant was conducted, contact the legal team at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett. We can help represent you and discuss options to resolve your case with the best possible outcome. Request a free case review to get started.