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misdemeanor exceptions for warrantless arrests

As a general matter, law enforcement authorities need an arrest warrant before arresting someone on a misdemeanor charge.

Breaking this rule makes the arrest illegal and could result in the exclusion of any evidence found at the time of the arrest.

However, the legislature authorized Florida misdemeanor exceptions for warrantless arrests, allowing officers to arrest for misdemeanor violations in limited circumstances.

An Orlando criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if your warrantless arrest occurred as a result of a Florida misdemeanor exception or if the officers who arrested you violated the law.

Contact our office today to discuss your case.

When Do Florida Misdemeanor Exceptions Apply?

Florida Statutes Section 901.15 lays out the Florida misdemeanor exceptions that allow authorities to make a warrantless arrest.

The exceptions included in the statute allow officers to make an arrest without a warrant for a misdemeanor in the following scenarios:

  1. When all the elements of the misdemeanor were committed in the officer’s presence;
  2. The officer has probable cause for the arrest, and the misdemeanor is on the Florida misdemeanor exceptions list found in the above-cited statute (usually traffic or domestic violence related offenses); or
  3. The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the subject has violated probation or community control in any material way.

In any of these scenarios, officers can make a legal warrantless arrest. If these scenarios don’t exist, officers need a valid arrest warrant. 

Florida Misdemeanor Exception List

The Florida Legislature has updated Section 901.15 multiple times, adding more misdemeanors to the list of statutory exceptions to the warrant requirement. In 2020, the legislature added, “exposure of a sexual organ” to the list. 

Misdemeanor Exceptions in Florida: 2021

The state expanded the list of misdemeanor exceptions in 2021. In fact, twenty-two (22) misdemeanors were added to the list.

The misdemeanor crimes added to the list of exceptions include:

  • Assault on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency care provider, or public transit employee;
  • Battery;
  • Child abuse;
  • Carrying a concealed weapon;
  • Criminal mischief;
  • Disorderly conduct on the premises of a licensed establishment;
  • Any act of domestic violence;
  • Possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis;
  • Graffiti-related offenses or criminal mischief;
  • Loitering/prowling;
  • Sexual cyberharassment (aka “revenge porn”);
  • Stalking;
  • Trespassing at an airport; and
  • Trespassing at a school.

For other misdemeanor violations, officers cannot make a warrantless arrest unless the officer observes every element of the misdemeanor being committed.

Remember, these rules only apply to Florida misdemeanors. Warrantless arrests for felony charges rely on a different set of rules for police officers. 

Facing Misdemeanor Charges Stemming from a Warrantless Arrest? Contact Our Office Today

Our criminal defense lawyers at Orlando Defense have the experience necessary to help guide you through Florida’s misdemeanor exceptions for warrantless arrests.

Attorney Jeffrey Higgins previously worked as a public defender, giving him extensive knowledge of how to navigate the criminal justice system effectively. Additionally, Mr. Higgins understands the rules surrounding warrantless arrests on misdemeanor charges.

If your arrest was improper, a criminal defense attorney could argue to have your case dismissed or have your charges reduced. Call our office today to start your free consultation.

Author Photo

Jeff Higgins

Jeff began his career as an assistant public defender in Lake County, Florida. Jeff works to make sure that his clients understand the legal process, understand their rights, and fully understand their choices before making any decisions about their case.

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