Search Warrants Explained

Florida Warrant Laws; Getting Familiar With the Various Kinds

The use of warrants is a vital part of the criminal justice process, and in Florida can only be issued by a judge or magistrate. Stemming both from constitutional requirements and state statutes, Florida’s warrant laws impose strict restrictions and requirements whenever these legal documents are used.

There are several types of warrants. You have probably heard of a SEARCH WARRANT.
Search warrants order law enforcement to search a place or person for specific items or evidence related to a crime. Only judges can authorize and issue search warrants. Law enforcement officers or other agents of the state must provide a judge with an affidavit stating the grounds upon which the search warrant is sought. Search warrants can be issued whenever the affidavit provides the judge with probable cause to believe a crime has been or will be committed, or that evidence of such crime of violation of the law exists at the place named. Once issued, the warrant must order law enforcement personnel to search the person or property named in the warrant.

ARREST WARRANTS
Florida judges can also issue arrest warrants. These warrants direct state law enforcement agents, typically through the sheriff’s office, to arrest anyone named in the warrant and bring them before the judge at any time. Judges can issue arrest warrants against anyone the judge reasonably believes committed an offense within the court’s jurisdiction. When making an arrest, the officer must notify the defendant that an arrest warrant naming him was issued, but does not need to produce the warrant at the time of arrest.

BENCH WARRANTS
Another common form of warrant used in Florida is a bench warrant. Unlike search and arrest warrants, no supporting affidavit or sworn statement is necessary for a judge issuing a bench warrant. These warrants are typically issued when a person violates a court order, fails to appear in court pursuant to a court order or summons, fails to pay traffic tickets on time or fails to meet the terms of probation. Bench warrants, sometimes referred to as capias warrants, are part of the court’s power to compel people to appear before it.

The use of warrants in an important part of the legal system, and the criminal justice system in particular. Every state establishes laws that govern how warrants can be used. Warrants are formal written document provided by the court granting authorization to a person or organization, typically an agent of the state, to take a particular action.

( Source: Roger Thorne)

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