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Warrantless Arrest in Florida 

This article explains when a law enforcement officer in Florida can make a warrantless arrest for either a felony or misdemeanor. The article also explains other ways that a criminal prosecution can be initiated including a direct file information after a walk in complaint. 

If you have questions about an arrest warrant or a warrantless arrest in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or the surrounding areas of Tampa Bay, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

Call 813-250-0500 to talk with an attorney about your case.


Warrant Arrest in Florida for a Felony

Under Florida law, a police officer can make a warrantless arrest for any felony offense if there is probable cause to believe:

  1. that a felony has been committed; and
  2. the individual accused is the perpetrator of the crime.

In some felony cases, the investigating officer will not make an arrest, but will instead forward the complaint by the complaining witness to the State Attorney's Office so that a prosecutor can make the filing decision. The person accused can also hire a criminal defense attorney to present their side of the story to the prosecutor before the filing decision is made. 

For a misdemeanor charge, however, the officer cannot normally make a warrantless arrest unless the crime was committed in his or her presence as explained below. Florida law provides for certain exceptions to this warrantless arrest rule for misdemeanors in Florida. The misdemeanor exceptions to the warrant requirement in Florida are explained in this article.


Non-Arrest Walk in Complaints

The State Attorney’s Office receives complaints and reports of criminal activity from different sources, including the general public and law enforcement officers that have not arrested the suspect. After receiving a complaint, each complaint is investigated by the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether a crime has occurred and who has committed the crime.

The investigation can include statements from the witnesses, using search warrants to obtain additional information, or using a subpoenas duces tecum.

After the investigation is completed, the State Attorney’s Office will make a decision about whether to file an Information or decline to file any charges. If charges are filed, an arrest warrant or issue summons will be prepared to bring the accused into custody.

In other cases, the complaint can be forwarded to the Clerk who will take the affidavit and administer an oath. The Clerk will then issue a summons. After the summons is issued, the complainant is entitled to a hearing before a magistrate. The magistrate may issue a capias (warrant) if the party complained against fails to appear at the hearing or the evidence is sufficient.  


Statutory Exceptions to a Misdemeanor Warrant Arrest

In misdemeanor cases, Florida law provides for a number of statutory exceptions to the rules mentioned above. A law enforcement officer in Florida can make an arrest without a warrant (provided that there is probable cause) for the following offenses:

  1. Trespass at an Airport:
    • It is alleged that a trespass occurred in a secure area of an airport when signs are posted in a conspicuous area of airport which notifies the public that unauthorized entry into such areas constitutes a trespass and specify the methods for gaining authorized access to such areas (see F. S. § 901.15(14)).
  2. Assault on a Specified Person:
    • If an assault allegedly occurred on a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, public transit employees or agents, or other specified officers as set forth in § 784.07 or an assault or battery upon any employee of a receiving facility as defined in § 394.455 who is engaged in the lawful performance of their duties (see F.S. § 901.15(15)).
  3. Battery:
    • A battery upon another person under § 784.03 (see § 901.15(9) (a)).
  4. Child Abuse:
    • An act of child abuse under § 827.03 or any act of abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child or a violation of § 787.025 or luring or enticing a child (see § 901.15(8)).
  5. Criminal Mischief:
    • Any act of Criminal Mischief under § 806.13. (see § 901.15(9)(b)).
  6. Concealed Weapon:
    • A criminal act of carrying a concealed weapon under § 790.01 (see § 790.02).
  7. Disorderly Conduct:
    • An acts of a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct as defined in § 877.03 on the premises of a licensed public lodging establishment as defined in § 509.013(4)(a). (see § 509.143(2)).
  8. Domestic Violence:
    • Any act of domestic violence, as defined in § 741.28. (see § 901.15(7)).
  9. Violation of a DV Injunction:
    • A criminal act for violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence under § 741.31 (see § 901.15(6)).
  10. Violation of DV Pretrial Release:
    • Any act that violates a condition of pretrial release provided in § 903.047 when the original arrest was for an act of domestic violence as defined in § 741.28 (see § 901.15(13)).
  11. Possession of Weapon by Specified Person:
    • A criminal act under § 790.235 for possession of firearm or ammunition prohibited when person is subject to a domestic violence injunction (see § 901.15(6)).
  12. Violation of Protective Order Injunction:
    • Any criminal act under § 784.047 for violating protective injunctions entered pursuant to § 741.30 (see § 901.15(6)).
  13. Violation of Other Protective Injunctions:
    • Any criminal act under § 784.046 for violation of repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence for a protective injunction (see § 901.15(6)).
  14. Drugs:
    • Possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis according to § 893.13(6)(b) (see § 893.13(6)(d)).
  15. Graffiti:
    • Any Graffiti-related offense as described in § 806.13 (see § 901.15(9)(b)).
  16. Loitering and Prowling:
    • Any criminal act under § 856.021 for loitering and prowling (see § 856.031).
  17. Protection Order:
    • A foreign protection order accorded full faith and credit pursuant to § 741.315 which provides for recognition of foreign protection orders (see § 901.15(6)).
  18. Stalking:
    • A violation of § 748.048 for stalking (see § 784.048(6)).
  19. Theft:
    • Any act of retail theft, farm theft, or transit fair evasion as defined in § 812.015 (see § 812.015).
  20. Traffic Crimes:
    • An offense committed under the provision of Chapter 316, State Uniform Traffic Control, or Chapter 322 for drivers’ licenses in connection with a crash after an investigation at the scene (see § 316.645).
  21. Trespass:
    • An act of trespass on a campus or other facility of a school as defined in § 810.097 (see § 810.097(4)).
  22. Vessel Safety:
    • A violation of a safety zone, security zone, regulated navigation area, or naval vessel protection zone as described in § 327.461 (see § 901.15(9)(c)).

Attorney for Warrantless Arrest in Florida

Whether your case involves an arrest warrant, a warrantless arrest, or a direct file, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients in felony and misdemeanor charges throughout Hillsborough County prosecuted at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City.

Call 813-250-0500 to talk directly with an attorney about the facts of your case. We can begin your defense today. 


This article explaining the warrantless arrest in Florida was last updated on Monday, June 26, 2017.