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Polk County Arrest Records

An arrest becomes necessary in Polk County, Florida, when a complaint is filed, an officer witnesses a crime, or there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime. Following the arrest of a suspect, they will be brought to the police station for booking and questioning. The booking process involves collecting the fingerprints, photographs, personal information, clothing, and personal items of the suspect. When these details are recorded, an arrest record is created. If a state prosecutor lays formal charges against the suspect, the arrest information becomes part of the Polk County court record. Polk County arrest records are generated and filed by law enforcement agencies in the county, such as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Bartow Police Department, Auburndale Police Department, and the Davenport Police Department.

Are Arrest Records Public in Polk County?

Yes. Under the Florida Public Records Act (Fla. Stat. § 119.01), any person can request all records of arrest prepared and filed by state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies in Florida. The Statute also requires all Law enforcement authorities in Polk County to provide platforms for access to electronic records online.

Likewise, Article 1, Section 24 of the Constitution of the State of Florida guarantees the right of all persons to inspect and copy any public record made or received in the exercise of the official duties and business of any public body or officer of the state. These laws apply only to records that are not exempt from public disclosure.

Arrest records or information contained in arrest records may be exempt from inspection and copying by members of the public by order of the court, the state constitution of Florida, or a federal or state statute. Records may be restricted from public access due to the sensitivity or confidential nature of the information contained therein. They may also be restricted to protect a person's identity and prevent an event where disclosure may compromise the safety and security of an individual or interfere with criminal investigations or the administration of justice.

According to Section 119.071 Florida Statutes, general exemptions that relate to an arrest record include:

  • Social security numbers
  • Where a victim chooses not to pursue a complaint and requests that the records of the complaint remain confidential.
  • Any information that reveals the identity of a victim of child abuse, sexual abuse, or child trafficking.
  • Juvenile records.

What Do Public Arrest Records Contain?

Public arrest records contain multiple details about the arrested person and the alleged crime. Information in Polk County public arrest records may generally include:

  • Arrestee’s personal information: Full name, alias or nickname, date of birth, age, and home address.
  • Physical Description: Mugshot, sex, race, height, weight, hair and eye color, tattoos, scars, or other distinct physical features.
  • Date, location, and time of arrest
  • The name of the arresting agency and the arresting officer(s)
  • Charges
  • Previous Charges
  • Outstanding Warrants
  • Bail and bond information
  • Case status.

Polk County Crime Rate

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) 2021 Annual Summary Uniform Crime Reports, Polk County law enforcement reported 11,202 criminal offenses in 2021. The 2021 report indicates a 7.6% decrease in the crime rate compared to the previous year.

The crime rate for Polk County, with a general population of 748,365 residents, was 1,496.9 for every 100,000 people. The clearance rate was 28.7 per 100 offenses. According to this report, the most prevalent offenses in the county were larceny (6,498), aggravated assault (1,969), Burglary (1,342), and motor vehicle theft (928).

Polk County Arrest Statistics

The FDLE 2021 County and Municipal Arrest Report showed 23,221 arrests made in 2021. The arrest rate was 3102.9 per 100,000 residents. Adult offenders made up 93.3% (21,671), and juvenile offenders 6.7% (1,550). The highest number of arrests made in the county were drug arrests (3,615), simple assault (3,899), larceny (1,222), and aggravated assault (1,043).

Find Polk County Arrest Records

Arrested persons awaiting trial or formal charges in Polk County are detained in the Polk County Jail. Researchers and other concerned persons can access inmate information online at the Polk County Sheriff’s Jail Information Search website. Users can search the database by name, booking date, or other popular unofficial names of the inmate. Individuals may also contact the Sheriff or other municipal police departments in the locality where the suspect was apprehended to find information about the arrest.

Records of arrests made by state law enforcement agencies may be retrieved from the specific agencies' central records departments or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. For arrests made by federal law enforcement agencies, individuals can locate inmate information using the Federal Inmate Locator.

Free Arrest Record Search in Polk County

Interested persons can contact or visit the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to view or inspect arrest records for free. The Sheriff’s Office Jail Inquiry website does not charge service or subscription fees to access information on the website.

Alternatively, one may use third-party public record search tools in their research. These sites index arrest information from multiple jurisdictions, counties, and states in a single website. This feature offers convenience and broader search results to the researcher. Although they aren't free, some of these private sites have affordable subscription plans and cheaper payment options.

Get Polk County Criminal Records

A criminal record is collected and compiled by law enforcement agencies containing personal identity information about the subject, details of their arrest, indictment, information or other criminal charges, and any verdict or judgments given in such cases, sentencing, incarceration, fines, probation, parole, and release. Criminal records are also referred to as criminal history records or “rap sheets”.

The FDLE Division of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), is the primary source for criminal records and criminal history information in Florida. Interested persons may request a copy of Polk County criminal records. A record check costs $24. The FDLE provides public access to statewide criminal history information.

Individuals may also request criminal court case records from the Polk County Court Clerk. These records contain information on the charges, the outcome of the case, bail and bond information, sentencing, prison terms, fines, place of incarceration, parole, and release dates. Polk County court records may be accessed online; requests may also be sent by mail.

Mailing Address:

Records Custodian
P.O. Box 9000, Drawer CC-18
Bartow, FL 33831-9000
Email: clerkrecords@polk-county.net.

Polk County Arrest Records Vs. Criminal Records

Arrest records and criminal records are legal documents that contain detailed information about an individual's criminal background and interactions with the law.

A criminal record or criminal history record contains information about a person's arrest, prosecution, and conviction. It includes personal details, offenses, arrests, classification of crime, outstanding warrants, probation and parole information, sentencing, and incarceration history. It encompasses statewide arrest information, court records, and inmate information. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains criminal records in Polk County.

Polk County arrest records are simply details of a person’s arrest. It does not include court proceedings or the final outcome of a case. An arrest record may not even lead to a formal charge or summons. It only contains the arrestee’s personal information, the name of the arresting officer and agency, the incident and reason for the arrest, and the status of the arrestee.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

Permanently. In Florida, an arrest remains on your record forever, regardless of whether the criminal arrest leads to a conviction or whether it was for an offense like shoplifting, simple assault, or reckless driving with property damage. The FDLE maintains records of arrests and prosecution (rap sheets), and they are not automatically deleted after a number of years.

An individual can petition the court in the county where they were arrested or charged to expunge their arrest records. This is, however, subject to eligibility and other conditions laid down in Chapter 943 of Florida Statutes.

Expunge Polk County Arrest Records

In line with the provisions of Section 943.0585, a person may be eligible to petition a court to expunge an arrest record if:

  • No charges were filed in the case, giving rise to the criminal history record
  • Charges were filed against the defendant but were dismissed or nolle prosequi by the state attorney or prosecutor
  • The charges were dismissed by a court of competent jurisdiction
  • The defendant was acquitted and discharged or received a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury
  • At the date the application for a certificate of expunction is filed, the applicant has not been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor in Florida unless the record of that offense has been previously deleted.
  • The applicant has not been found guilty of any of the acts for which they were arrested or any criminal activity relating to the petition.
  • The arrest is no longer considered an open case in court
  • The applicant has not previously obtained a court order to seal the criminal history record.

The first step in commencing an action for a petition is to get a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal or Expunge at the FDLE. To obtain this certificate, the applicant must pay a $75 processing fee and submit a written certified statement from the state attorney confirming that the arrest record complies with the criteria for eligibility in the statutes.

The applicant must also submit a certified copy of the disposition of the charge for which the petitioner wants to expunge. The department shall only issue this certificate once they confirm that the applicant has satisfied all requirements as stated in the statute and has provided all the required papers and fees. The certificate of eligibility is valid for 12 months only.

Once the petitioner has obtained the Certificate of Eligibility, they can petition the court to expunge the record. The petition includes a valid certificate issued by the FDLE and a sworn statement attesting that he/she meets the criteria for expunction and, to the best of their knowledge, does not have any other petition to seal or expunge another criminal record pending in any court.

The court may grant an order of expunction for more than one arrest if the additional arrests originate from the initial one. The order for expungement granted by the court will specify the intent to delete multiple records of arrests. Law enforcement agencies and courts cannot refuse to comply with a court order for the expunction of arrest records. It shall apply to all federal state, county, or municipal government agencies in custody of the record petitioned, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Polk County Arrest Warrants

An arrest warrant is a written order issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes a law enforcement officer to arrest or detain a person or persons named in the warrant. It is issued when a law enforcement officer, through the state attorney, submits a complaint with supporting evidence and an affidavit to the court in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed, stating that a crime has been committed and the suspect committed the crime. A judge will examine the complaint and supporting documents if he/she finds probable cause for the issuance of an arrest warrant; they will then issue an arrest warrant (Section 902.02 Florida Statutes).

According to the Florida Supreme Court Rules (Rule 3.121), an arrest warrant must be in writing and signed by the judge. It should also include the name of the judge’s office, the nature of the offense, the name and identity or description of the person to be arrested, the date and county of issuance, and a command that the person against whom the complaint was laid be arrested and brought before a judge, and the return date. Where the offense is bailable, the warrant must state the amount of bail.

The court will issue a warrant for the arrest of a defendant where the summons issued to the defendant could not be served and where a complaint has been filed on the grounds of a misdemeanor charge.

Polk County Arrest Warrant Search

Residents of Polk County can find information on possible outstanding or active warrants online at the Polk County Sheriff's Office Warrant Inquiry website. Individuals may also contact the Sheriff’s Office for official confirmation of records or assistance finding information on wanted persons in the county.

Polk County Sheriff's Office
1891 Jim Keene Blvd
Winter Haven, FL 33880
Phone: (863) 298-6200

Do Polk County Arrest Warrants Expire?

Arrest warrants do not have expiration dates. They remain active indefinitely until the named person is arrested or the warrant is recalled or quashed. Although an arrest warrant does not expire, it must be executed timely.

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants a defendant the right to a speedy trial. Hence, significant effort must be made to find and apprehend the individual; otherwise, such time factors may affect the trial outcome, and a judge may dismiss the case. In the same vein, a defendant who knows they have been charged with a crime should not ignore the charges in the hope that the arrest warrant will expire or become an executable because of time factors. Rather, such a defendant will be labeled a fugitive and risk more prison time and increased penalties.

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