It's not unusual for someone who has lived, worked or merely vacationed in Florida to find years later that there exists a pending active arrest warrant. No wonder the official Florida motto is - the rules are different here. Often the pending arrest warrant is for some alleged nonviolent crime such as theft, worthless check or failure to pay for lodging, gas or food.
Sometimes the arrest warrant is for a violent event that did not result in immediate arrest such as assault, battery, disorderly intoxication or an altercation at a bar. The typical result is that a defendant only learns of the arrest warrant by accident possibly years after the alleged event. And it's worth knowing that an arrest warrant in the computer system will give every officer the right to arrest you until the warrant is withdrawn.
What should someone do when confronting an allegation of criminal conduct from years earlier when recollection of the events with possible defenses have vanished? Before you turn yourself in on an arrest warrant it's important to get some advice from a defense lawyer. In essence the question leads directly to the answer. If a defendant finds it difficult to defend a case, how will Florida prosecutors be able to successfully pursue a conviction? Witnesses may have disappeared, victims may have moved, business may have gone bankrupt. Older arrest warrants may be available to the Clearwater Clerk of Court in Pinellas only on microfilm.
It's important for your defense lawyer to examine the facts and circumstances of the underlying facts. After an investigation of the factual allegations documented within the arrest warrant, then it's necessary for your lawyer to examine the arrest warrant itself and the charging document known as the information for clues as to whether police and prosecutors made a good faith effort to timely pursue the arrest warrant when it was freshly issued.
The more stale a case has become the more difficult the case will be to successfully prosecute. After a thorough examination of every weakness of the arrest warrant, your defense counsel will contact prosecutors at the Pinellas County Attorney's Office to persuade them that the case is unlikely to be won at trial. If prosecutors agree that too much time has passed to pursue the case, then they will issue a document known as an administrative nolle prosequito to the Pinellas County Clerk's Office which withdraws the outstanding arrest warrant. This document is typically filed if it can be proven that there has been no procedural activity on the case for at least a period of three years.