Arrest Warrants in Broward County, FL

To protect against official abuses and unfettered police discretion, most types of searches of private property require a warrant. The process of obtaining an arrest warrant protects an individual from an unreasonable search and seizure. Probable cause is required for both search and arrest warrants under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 901.02, F.S., provides that an arrest warrant may be issued when the judge reasonably believes the suspect has committed the criminal offense. The statute also provides that the warrant is issued at the time it is signed by the judge. 


Requirements for the Arrest Warrant in Florida

For the issuance of an arrest warrant in 901.02(1), F.S., the judge is permitted to review the complaint, affidavit in support and all proofs submitted to determine if probable cause exists for any crime committed within the judge’s jurisdiction. If probable cause is found, the judge will typically sign the arrest warrant with his or her name of office.

Florida Statute Sections 933.07 and 901.02, F.S., authorize a judge to electronically sign a search or arrest warrant upon examination of an application or complaint and proof that it; 

  • complaint for the warrant bears the affiant’s signature or electronic signature; 
  • is supported by an oath or affirmation administered by the judge or other person authorized by law to administer oaths; and
  • if submitted electronically, is submitted by reliable electronic means.

Florida law also provides that the warrant is deemed issued when a judge signs or electronically signs the warrant. The new law for an arrest or search warrant issued in Florida took effect on July 1, 2013.

The same guarantees are found in Article 1, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution. In Steagald v. U.S., 451 U.S. 204, 212 (1981), the U.S. Supreme Court explained that the purpose of the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement “. . . is to allow a neutral judicial officer to assess whether the police have probable cause to make an arrest or conduct a search.” 

The probable cause standard generally exists when a reasonable inquiry would cause a reasonable person to believe in the truth of a particular set of facts. Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366 (2003).


Determining when an Arrest Has Occurred

An arrest occurs when a law enforcement officer seizes a person either by physical force or show of authority or in some way restrained the liberty of a citizen. The test for determining whether a person has been seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment is whether a reasonable person would have believed that he or she was not free to leave in view of all the circumstances surrounding the incident. See United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

The officer must have probable cause that a crime has occurred and that the defendant committed the crime in order to make a valid arrest. In order to have probable cause to make an arrest if, the arresting officer must have reasonably trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a prudent man in believing that a person had committed or was committing an offense. Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89 (1964). 

When there is probable cause to believe that a person committed an offense then an arrest warrant may be issued. The purpose of the warrant is to protect an individual from an unreasonable seizure. U.S. v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976).


Exceptions to the Arrest Warrant Requirement in Florida

Several exceptions exist for the arrest warrant requirement. Law enforcement officers do not generally need a warrant to make an arrest in a public place. In a public place, the officer can arrest a felony suspect when they have reasonable grounds to believe that a felony was committed and the arrestee is the person who committed the crime. 

Florida law allows law enforcement officers to make a warrantless arrest for misdemeanor offenses if the offense was committed in the officer’s presence. 

Section 901.02(1), F.S., provides that an arrest warrant may be issued when the judge, after examining the complaint and other witnesses, reasonably believes the suspect has committed the offense. The statute also states that a warrant is issued at the time it is signed by the judge. 

A court is authorized to issue an arrest warrant under Section 901.02(2), F.S., when all of the following apply:

  • a complaint has been filed charging the commission of a misdemeanor only; and
  • the summons issued to the defendant has been returned unserved.

Additional Resources

How do I know if someone has an outstanding warrant for arrest in Broward County? - Visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Broward Sheriff’s office website to learn more about how to find out if a person has an outstanding arrest warrant in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County. The site contains public information about persons with outstanding warrants. More information can be obtained from the Clerk of Court for Broward County at their website or by visiting the Clerk of Courts in any one of their courthouse locations.

Arrest Warrant Search in Broward County - Visit the website of the Sheriff’s Office in Broward County to find the advanced search feature for outstanding arrest warrants. You can search individuals currently incarcerated in Broward County by entering their name. Information for only current inmate information and booking photos are accessible. Find more information from the BSO's Department of Detention. 


This article was last updated on Friday, October 28, 2016.

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