Pinellas County Warrants In Desperate Need of Review By Warrant Unit

Many times in Jacksonville, people are charged with crimes and are either not aware of that charge, or have been wrongfully charged. Some may see this as a small problem in society. However, a mistake in a warrant can lead to shocking consequences for all who are involved. If one has been charged in a similar situation as this, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected.

Tampa Bay Times staff reported this week that the Pinellas County sheriff’s office in Tampa Bay is the only county among Florida’s seven most-populated counties that does not have a unit dedicated to serving outstanding warrants. Given the pressure to cut millions in spending, it’s understandable why former Sheriff Jim Coats chose four years ago to eliminate the unit with the primary responsibility to serve arrest warrants and hand that task to all deputies. But that approach in Pinellas does not appear to be as effective as the dedicated warrant units still used in other counties. imageswunit.jpg

An arrest warrant in Jacksonville is a warrant granted by a Judge in a court of law to a law enforcement officer granting that officer the right and ability to arrest an accused individual. The arrest warrant is obtained by presenting a judge with probable cause for arresting the suspect. If there is any rationally-related evidence that can be presented to the judge when requesting an arrest warrant that will speed up the process then it should be disclosed. That is why many officers or prosecutors make sure they have probable cause and at least two pieces of evidence to present to the judge before requesting an arrest warrant.

Arrest warrants are most commonly required when a crime is committed out of view of a police officer. If a felony is committed in view of a police officer then an arrest can be made without a warrant.

Outstanding warrant units maintain all current and active warrants, which are filed by all Law Enforcement agencies within each respective county. Warrants Units are responsible for receiving, processing, entering, removing and validating each warrant that is received from the Clerk of Courts. A file is created for each warrant and the original is maintained in the file. When a warrant is executed or unexecuted (recalled by a judge and/or the Clerk’s Office), the original warrant has to be taken out of the file and sent back to the Clerk’s Office.

A prime example of this frightening situation that accused members of our society face is the case of Gregory J. Johns. Johns was accused of raping and impregnating an 11-year-old girl while there was an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest. Johns was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies earlier this month as they tried to arrest him on a charge of sexual battery. The earlier arrest warrant was for a drug charge, and it is doubtful that any system serving thousands of arrest warrants would have made Johns such a high priority that he would have been arrested and in jail before the sexual assault occurred.

If one or one’s loved one has been accused of a crime and has an outstanding warrant on them, one should obtain an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to fight the case and have the warrant recalled. One needs a help up, not a lock down.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Sources: Pinellas arrest warrants need review, The Tampa Bay Times