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Does A Florida Police Officer Need A Warrant To Arrest Me?


A person is under arrest when they are “seized” by the police. That is, an officer must apply some form of physical force–usually placing handcuffs on the suspect–and taking them into custody. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the police may not make an “unreasonable” seizure of an individual and must have “probable cause” that the person may be guilty of some criminal offense.

In many cases, the police will first obtain a legal document known as an arrest warrant. A warrant is signed by a judge or magistrate, typically after reviewing an affidavit from a police officer specifying the probable cause to justify an arrest. Issuing a warrant does not mean the judge or magistrate believes the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime; that can only be established following a trial where the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is substantially higher than “probable cause.”

A question we often get is, “Do the police have to get a warrant before arresting me?” The short answer is “no.” A warrant is not required in every situation involving a lawful arrest. Officers will often obtain a warrant to help protect them from allegations of false arrest later. But as previously noted, the standard for an arrest is “probable cause,” not whether a warrant has been issued.

For example, if an officer witnesses someone commit a crime, they can make an arrest without a warrant. Similarly, if an officer has conducted an investigation that leads them to develop probable cause, they can make a warrantless arrest. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the police normally must obtain a warrant before entering a person’s home to make an arrest. But if the suspect is out on the street, then a warrantless arrest is typically legal under the circumstances described above.

Violation and Bench Warrants

So far, we have discussed arrests and warrants in the context of someone only suspected of committing a crime. There are other types of arrest warrants that can be issued for people who have been previously convicted of a crime or are out on bail pending a criminal trial.

If a person is on probation, they are often subject to a number of restrictions and other conditions imposed by the court. If the person’s probation officer, or another law enforcement officer, suspects there has been a violation of these conditions, they can ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant. This is sometimes known as a violation warrant.

Along similar lines, a judge can issue a bench warrant for someone’s arrest if they are somehow in contempt of court. This includes a criminal defendant’s failure to appear in court for a required hearing. It can also apply to someone who is required to appear for jury duty and fails to show up.

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Jose Baez Today

If you have been arrested, or there is an active warrant for your arrest, it is critical that you seek out qualified legal advice from an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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