Check if the Warrant is Active
The Florida Criminal Information Center: The State of Florida has a Public Access Warrant Search Online that is provided as a courtesy by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Simply go to the State-run website, enter the relevant data, and you can see if an active warrant of arrest record has been reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Determine Type of Warrant
Different types of warrants are treated differently by a Judge.
- Arrest Warrant for Probable Cause
An arrest warrant for probable cause is issued when a police officer files an affidavit that he or she has probable committed a crime. This affidavit is then taken to a Judge to review.
If the Judge agrees that the affidavit, on its face, is enough for a warrant, then the Judge signs the warrant and returns to the police officer for execution.
Remember: Probable Cause does not mean the State Attorney will be able to prove its case against you. Probable cause is a much lower legal standard than the proof a beyond reasonable doubt required to support a conviction. It is enough, however, to get the ball rolling and lead to an arrest.
- Bench Warrant for Failure to Appear
If a misdemeanor charge has been filed against you the Judge will summons you to appear to Court to answer to the charge. But if you are summoned to appear and then don’t show up, the Judge will likely issue an outstanding bench warrant for you.
- Direct File Warrant by State Attorney
Sometimes the police officer gathers evidence for a criminal charge but is not sure whether or not to proceed with asking for an Arrest Warrant. The police officer may instead defer to the State Attorney, or prosecutor, in making a decision. If the State Attorney reviews the information provided by the police and decides that there is probable cause for a felony or domestic violence crime, then the State Attorney will direct file an information charging the case. The State Attorney can also decide to put a Warrant out for your arrest as part of the Direct File.
- Arrest Warrant for Probation Violation
If you are on probation and violate some of the terms and conditions, your probation officer can file an Affidavit of Violation of Probation. Included in this affidavit is often a warrant for your arrest.
Withdrawing an Arrest Warrant in Tampa
After determining that a warrant exists and the specific details of the warrant, you’ll want to begin the process of removing the warrant. To do so:
- See if there is a bond amount attached to the warrant:
If there is a bond amount attached to the warrant, then you could proceed to turn yourself in to the police department office, have the cops execute the warrant, and then bond out.
- Determine if should surrender in jail or attend with an attorney:
Before turning yourself in you’ll want to line up a criminal defense lawyer and a bondsman so that your time in custody is short and you exercise your 5th amendment right to remain silent.
- Determine if you should file a “Motion to Surrender”:
Depending on the nature of the warrant, your criminal lawyer may advise filing a Motion to Surrender at the Courthouse. This gives your attorney an opportunity to potentially work out the terms of your release and/or resolve your case in advance of turning yourself in. This can save you from getting stuck in jail for days while waiting for a court date.
- Determine if you should file a Motion to Withdraw Capias:
Alternatively, your attorney may be able to ask the Court to withdraw the warrant in its entirety. This is true if the Judge chose to issue a warrant for failure to appear but you can show the Court the failure to appear was not intentional.
- Schedule an emergency Bond Reduction Motion:
If the warrant has already been executed (you’re arrested) and there is no bond or the bond is too high for your release, your attorney can file and schedule an emergency hearing asking the Judge to reduce the bond to something more manageable. In some cases, your criminal lawyer can ask the Judge to release you on your recognizance, effectively allowing you out of custody without having to post a bond.
- Schedule a Change of Plea:
In some cases, your attorney may simply schedule a change of plea hearing to get you into Court and get you out of jail. Your attorney will examine your case, including the discovery and police reports, and contact the State Attorney in advance to try to resolve your case for an agreed-upon deal that gets you out of jail.