Do I Have an Outstanding Warrant in Florida?
No one knows for sure how many outstanding warrants are out there. What we do know is that unserved warrants keep piling up in every State. Most are for minor offenses but hundreds of thousands of those warrants are for people wanted for serious crimes.
People ask this all the time. How can I find out if I have a warrant for my arrest ? If you have to ask, you probably have a pretty good idea that somewhere along the way you did something wrong and a warrant is possibly awaiting you right around the corner.
Reasons for issuing warrants
While you will be arrested immediately if caught red handed committing a crime, there are three other reasons why an arrest warrant might be issued by a judge.
1. You missed a previously scheduled court appearance.
2. A citizen has filed a complaint of a crime having taken place, followed by an investigation by the sheriffs office or police department and found to have probable cause that the crime was committed by you.
3. Violating a previous court order such as probation, pretrial services or an injunction.
The following are remedies you can take to cure the problem. Taking care of the warrant is the smartest and most logical thing to do. Based on the circumstance, here is what you should do.
An oversight or confusion about a court date resulting in a failure to appear for a traffic violation or any criminal offense is sufficient for a judge to sign a failure to appear warrant. In this case, at least in Florida, as long as you can make it to court and speak to a clerk before the court day is over, they will recall the warrant and issue another court date.
Realizing a scheduled court date for a traffic violation or any other criminal offense was missed after the particular court date day has come and gone, and without having recourse to reschedule, you are correct in concerning yourself. A warrant most likely has been issued. For some jurisdictions if the crime is a misdemeanor and the date you failed to show up happened to be the arraignment date, you can usually get it rescheduled. Regardless, oversights do happen, you may want to call the clerks office as soon as possible and see it there is any possibility of rescheduling the missed appearance. More likely than not you might have to either hire a criminal attorney to try to have your warrant set aside and request a new court date on your behalf or turn yourself in to the sheriffs office so that they may serve the warrant upon you, and have it removed from the computer system. At this point you will be assigned a new hearing date or one will be mailed to your home.
If the arrest warrant is in direct result of a court violation you will need to surrrender yourself to the sheriffs office or wait to be picked up. Either way you will be taken in front of the magistrate if there is no bail set or you may bond if bail is available.
Running from the Law
If you have intentionally missed court and still have no intentions of taking care of your problem then the warrant will sit indefinitely until eventually it is served upon you. There is no statute of limitation so no, it will not go away after a while.
When warrants are signed they are specific as to where they can be served. For instance a warrant might specify for the defendant to be picked up only within the state of Florida, or within local jurisdiction, or anywhere where the defendant may be found.
Misdemeanor warrants are entered normally into the state law enforcement system only. Felony warrants are entered into NCIC which is a national crime information center system utilized by all law enforcement divisions in every State. This is not to say that a misdemeanor warrant cannot be requested to be entered into NCIC especially if the individual is really wanted. It really depends on different factors. I’m sure we can all agree that it is not cost effective to bring someone from California back to Florida for a petty theft, DUI or traffic violation charge.
While you may temporarily avoid getting arrested by fleeing to another jurisdiction, the warrant remains active, an you risk the chance of being detained upon return to the state or jurisdiction of the offense. For a felony, if found anywhere within the continental United States, you will be detained and transported to the nearest facility. From there the State where the offense was committed will be notified and pending their response you may be extradited back to the original State. The length of time you sit incarcerated in a different States facility awaiting transportation back can be lengthy. Sooner or later, the law will catch up.
When warrants are issued an investigation has already been conducted. Determination by the states attorneys office that there is a probability that a certain individual committed a crime is enough to present to a judge for signature. The actual arrest warrant order comes from the judge and for the most part a bail amount has already been set. In no way does this mean you are guilty of the charge. Here in the USA we are considered innocent until proven guilty.
Sometimes for missed appearances you will be notified by mail that you have an active arrest warrant pending. Most of the time law enforcement officers will show up at your house to try to serve it. It is in your best interest if you are made aware of a possible warrant to contact the sheriffs department and arrange to turn yourself in thereby preventing the possibility of being arrested at your place of work, during a routine traffic stop, in front of family or at a more inconvenient time.
Searches for outstanding warrants are available online by both county and state, free of charge. For particular counties in Florida you can find this out via the sheriffs or clerk websites for each individual county. Some great Florida County Warrant Check Websites are below just enter your name and often times a birth date may be required to find out.
Not all counties are available as some counties will not release information to the public unless you somehow involved with law enforcement but you can always search the Florida warrants website at Florida Department of Law Enforcement. See FDLE Wanted Persons Search. There is a possibility that a warrant has been signed but not in the system immediately. The process of entering warrants in databases can sometimes take up to three weeks or slightly more.