How Long Does It Take For An Arrest Warrant On A VOP To Be Issued?

Good evening and welcome back to our casual Friday series of viewer questions on Florida Criminal Law TV. My name is Stephen Cobb and I am going to answer some questions that people have been kind enough to send to me about criminal cases. There is apparently a lot of curiosity and we all know that Florida is a state that arrests large numbers of people and we are not talking about for gang-related crime and major felonies and murder. Yes, those things happen but let’s be real. Florida is a state that arrests people for just about everything and anything.

You are profiled if you are the wrong color, you are profiled if you are in a vehicle with the person of the wrong color, which is any color but lily-white. You are profiled if you are young, you are profiled and stopped on the highway if you have a California license plate because you probably have pot in your car. So, we deal with a lot of mickey mouse cases, we deal with a lot of serious cases. And today, along with your questions, we have a very good one. And this question is:

“How Long Does it Take to Get an Arrest Warrant Issued?”

Well, let me give you an example from real life. I like to do that because these are real cases. Many years ago, I handled one of the very first Facebook discovery cases in all of Florida. And we actually won this sexual battery case at trial because I was able to bust a false accuser on the stand where her Facebook records had said that she was looking forward to the money she was going to get on the civil side of the case while during depositions and during trial itself, she testified, “Oh, I am not interested in money; I just want to see that this never happens to anyone else ever again.” You always hear this line, and then, I busted her with her Facebook records.

Well, in this particular case, my client was accused, a law enforcement officer contacted him, which is standard in certain sexual battery cases with his type of fact pattern, adults rather than young children living in a house which would be a cap case, and other types of cases. And so as a result, DNA was collected and it was forwarded, there was a rape kit done, it was forwarded to the lab and 8 months went by before an arrest warrant was issued. So, when you ask the question “How long will it take from the time they begin an investigation to the issuance of an arrest warrant”, the answer is I do not know, I cannot read minds. And if they take too long, they run the risk of running afoul of the statute of limitations.

Current Arrest Warrant Example

Now, today, as we are filming, I actually have a case involving a leaving the scene of an accident case where the statute of limitations will run today. And we fully expect that that case will be closed because the statute of limitations ran. So, the answer is I do not know in your case or the case of someone you love and care about when or if an arrest warrant will be issued. But I do know if you are questioned by the police, number one, the first thing you say is “I would like to speak to an attorney”. Do not try to explain it, do not try and give your side of the story, be especially vary if they tell you “You are not under arrest and you are free to leave and you do not have to talk to me but if you want to tell me your side of the story, now is the time to do it or we are going to have to make a decision without any information from you”.

And usually, at that point, people are thinking, “Oh, I am not under arrest, oh it’s safe to talk to the police”. No, it is not. In fact, what is actually happening is they have said that information so that you will say something that will hurt your case because the law is you have a right to remain silent, to have an attorney, and to not answer questions but under the Fifth Amendment, under a proper analysis, there are two basic aspects. Number one, you have to be in custody. And it has to be a custodial interrogation.

How Police Talk to You Before the Arrest Warrant

So, this is why police routinely tell people, “You are not under arrest, you do not have to talk to me if you do not want, you are free to leave. But if you don’t, we are just going to have to go with what this other person said and make our decision based on that. And if you want to tell your side of the story, now is the time to do it”.

And what that does is it causes people to drop their guard and that is the biggest warning sign in history. If a police officer is saying something like that to you, here is your answer, “I would like to speak to an attorney”. If you do that, the question is not when will an arrest warrant be issued; it may become will an arrest warrant be issued. And so, if and when are really part of the question itself and I have given you the best answer I can possibly give. If you would like to discuss a specific case and a more specific set of facts, feel free to contact us at Florida Criminal Law. If it is a live case, feel free to contact my law firm. My name is Stephen G. Cobb, a specialist in criminal law. It has been a pleasure answering your questions today.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is a slightly edited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.