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Polk County Sheriff Threatens to Jail Evacuees with Warrants

On August 26, the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring a tropical wave over the western coast of Africa that moved off the coast of the continent and organized significantly over the next few days. The NHC classified the disturbance as Tropical Storm Irma on August 30 before Irma strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on September 4 and a Category 5 hurricane the following day.

One day after Irma reached Category 5 status and two days after Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Florida, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd posted the following series of tweets to his official Twitter account on September 6:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, the state affiliate of the national nonpartisan nonprofit organization, posted this tweet in response to Sheriff Judd’s tweets:

As many residents of Florida are forced to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their safety, it is indeed cruel to possibly imprison those seeking shelter because of an outstanding warrant. As the ACLU correctly noted in its statement, many people with active warrants are not only unaware that they have such warrants, but the reasons for the warrants are forgotten or possibly offenses unknown to the alleged offenders such as traffic tickets or missed court dates.

West Palm Beach Warrants Attorney

Many arrest warrants are bench warrants issued for failure to appear for scheduled court dates. Arrest warrants will be issued in criminal cases when law enforcement agencies have submitted evidence to a judge establishing that they have probable cause to believe that the alleged offenders named in the warrants committed criminal offenses.

When a warrant is issued in Florida, people cannot simply wait it out. Warrants will not go away. Worse yet, information about warrants is shared between law enforcement agencies all over the state and across the nation. If you have an active warrant in South Florida, it is possible that you could be arrested during a traffic stop in a completely different part of the country.

As Hurrican Irma nears the Sunshine State, you should do whatever you have to do to keep yourself and your family safe. No person should have to let an active warrant deter him or her from seeking appropriate shelter.

If you know or think that you have an active warrant for your arrest in Palm Beach County, you will want to retain legal counsel for help determining a resolution that will allow you to avoid the embarrassment of a public arrest. Contact Meltzer and Bell, P.A today.

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