Arrest warrants are scary business. If you think you’re under investigation, or if you KNOW you are, or if you missed a court hearing, you could be reasonably concerned that there is a warrant for your arrest right now. In fact, you could be looking over your shoulder, making sure you drive well within the speed limit, and making sure your taillights are turned on at the slightest sign of the sun going down. Living in fear, so not fun.
Before we dive into how to find out if there’s a warrant for your arrest, let’s discuss arrest warrants so you can better understand them – what they are and why they’re issued. An arrest warrant is signed off by a judge or magistrate authorizing the police to arrest the individual(s) named in the warrant.
Typically, the warrant will identify the crime the individual allegedly committed, and this offense is what the warrant is based off of. For example, let’s say that officers have been investigating a rape case where the victim and the perpetrator did not know each other.
After collecting and analyzing DNA evidence left behind at the crime scene, the investigators got a hit in a DNA database, and the suspect’s name is John. As it turns out, John had been convicted of rape before and he has a long history of sexual-motivated offenses on his record. And he was a registered sex offender.
In Florida, the offense of rape is called “sexual battery” under Section 794.011 of the Florida Statutes. Since John allegedly committed sexual battery against an adult victim, the arrest warrant listed sexual battery as the basis for the warrant.
Now if John had not committed sexual battery, but instead he failed to show up at a court hearing, in that case the issue would issue what’s called a bench warrant. Often, when a warrant is based on a person’s previous failure to appear in court, the warrant will contain language stating that the individual cannot be released on bail. Sometimes, this is referred to as a “no-bail warrant.”
Obtaining an Arrest Warrant from the Judge
The police don’t go around arresting people on a hunch. Or, at least they’re not supposed to. Unless a crime is committed directly in front of the police, usually law enforcement has to seek the permission of a judge before they can arrest someone. To do this, the police have to provide enough factual information to demonstrate that they have probable cause that the suspect committed a crime and that he or she should be arrested pronto.
For example, a judge will not issue an arrest warrant for a “Sonya Harding” based on the story that a slim blond woman robbed a jewelry counter at a high-end department store because hundreds of women in the area could fit that description.
On the other hand, there could be probable cause if an employee at the department store recognized the slim blond woman as being Sonya, a former employee who was recently fired. And, three other employees at the store identified the woman from the surveillance video as Sonya, a woman who was fired for being constantly late to work.
Now that we have a better understanding of how arrest warrants work, let’s discuss how to find out if there is a warrant for YOUR arrest in Tampa or Hillsborough County.
Is There a Warrant for Your Arrest?
Is there a warrant for your arrest? If you live in Tampa or Hillsborough County, go to these links and type in your information and see if your name comes up:
Are you in trouble with the law? If there isn’t already a warrant for your arrest, do you fear that there will be one soon? Regardless, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to meet with a Tampa criminal defense attorney for free. Let our former prosecutors protect your rights and freedom in the face of criminal charges.