Evidence and Found Property
The Evidence Unit is responsible and accountable for the control of all evidence including found/recovered property stored in the evidence storage areas. It is important to preserve evidence, to keep the items safe and to keep the integrity intact so that they may be used in court.
The Evidence Unit receives about 16,000 items a year from the Sheriff’s Office and other agencies. A small percentage of items received are found property, with the bulk of the items taken in being case evidence. There are typically about 50,000 total items in storage at any given time.
Evidence personnel will make every attempt to notify the rightful owner if the item is abandoned evidence or found property. Pursuant to Florida State Statue when these items remain unclaimed, the Sheriff’s Office has the right to donate the unclaimed property to a nonprofit charitable organization, sell the item or retain the item for Agency use.
Claiming Your Property
Property that is classified on your property receipt as "Found" or "Safekeeping" (with the exception of firearms) may be claimed at the Evidence Unit during normal business hours. No appointment is necessary, but is preferred. Evidence property is governed by special conditions.
If you are listed as the “Finder” for the property you may be subject to an advertisement fee for the property item depending on its value.
Found Property is any item or article that has been found or surrendered to a law enforcement agent for safekeeping until such time that the rightful owner can be identified. Found Property will be held for 90 days from the date of submission.
If you're listed as the owner on the property receipt, present the receipt with the case number on it and a valid photo ID. If you are not listed as the owner, you must present proof of ownership, (for example, a bill of sale from the store where you purchased the item or a notarized bill of sale if the item was purchased from a private individual).
Safekeeping Property (Excluding Firearms)
Safekeeping Property (Excluding Firearms) is a result of a law enforcement officer taking control of property for the purpose of public safety or for the purpose of holding the property for a short period of time. Safekeeping property will be considered abandoned property after 60 days and may be disposed of.
If you are listed on the receipt as the owner, present the receipt and a valid photo ID to claim the property.
If the owner of the property is incarcerated or unable to pick up the items, he/she may complete a written and notarized authorization letter that authorizes a friend or relative to retrieve the property.
Evidence Property is any item or article that has been collected by a law enforcement agent to conduct a criminal investigation. Any item or article to be released must have a written release by the case agent, prosecuting attorney or a lawful court order.
Property received as Evidence is considered “Unclaimed Evidence” 60 days after the case in which no claim of ownership has been made.
The release of firearms is governed by how the weapon is classified: Evidence, Safekeeping or Court Ordered Domestic Injunction. If you're uncertain as to the classification assigned to your property, check with the detective or deputy who is assigned to your case. If you need more information regarding the release of firearms and weapons, contact the Evidence Unit at (941) 575-5275.
All persons requesting to claim a firearm are subject to a background check for prior felony convictions and active domestic violence order. Firearms may not be released to a convicted felon or if the claimant has an active domestic violence order. If there is any question about the adjudication of a charge(s), the weapon will not be released until the issue is resolved.
All firearms as provided for in F.S.S. 790.08, are forfeited to the State and may be disposed of after a six-month waiting period from date of forfeiture after an attempt to notify the owner has been documented.
Evidence firearms will only be released to persons named in a court order, probate court order, or designated by the case agent.
Release for Safekeeping firearms requires authorization from the detective or deputy handling the case prior to release to the owner.
Firearms Subject to Court Ordered Domestic Injunctions
Release requires a certified copy of the court order issued by a Judge lifting the injunction.