- Support Services
- Property and Evidence Management Unit
Property and Evidence Management Unit
Last Update: May 09 2018
It is the responsibility of the Property and Evidence Division to maintain not only the integrity of each item of evidence but the integrity of its Chain of Custody as well. All property and evidence items submitted are entered into a computer database. The unit works closely with several other agencies such as the Medical Examiner's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crime Lab, where evidence items are sometimes transferred for further testing/analysis.
Claiming Your Property
Property that is classified on your property receipt as "Found" or "Safekeeping" (with the exception of firearms) may be claimed by appointment at the Winter Garden Police Department during the hours of 0800am to 5pm. Monday thru Friday.
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).
Found Property that you've turned in:
With the exception of firearms and contraband, found property must be held by the Evidence Unit for 90 days. If you wish to claim the property after that time (presuming the true owner has not already claimed it), you will be contacted by the WGPD Property and Evidence Unit with further instructions.
Safekeeping Property (excluding firearms):
If you are listed on the receipt as the owner, present the receipt and a valid photo ID. If you're not listed as the owner, contact the Winter Garden Police Officer who issued the receipt. He or she must authorize, in writing, the release of the property to you. A valid photo ID will be required when you pick up the property.
Per Florida statute 925.11, if the suspect in the case is found guilty by jury, the property must be held for four years after sentencing, regardless of who owns the property. If the suspect pled in court or charges were dropped, property can be released with written authorization from the detective or officer responsible for the case. A certified copy of a court order can also release the property.
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 officer who is handling the case. Firearms are disposed of under a separate statute, F.S.S. 790 therefore NO finders claim may be made on found firearms.
Release of a Firearm: Before the return of any firearm the following must be completed:
- Person claiming a firearm are subject to a background check to ensure they are not a convicted felon, are not wanted, or have an outstanding domestic violence injunction.
- A check of Winter Garden Police Department records must be completed to determine the background information on the case. If there is any question about the adjudication of a charge(s), the weapon will not be released until the issue is resolved.
- The officer or detective who seized the weapon must authorize the release.
Ammunition is not returned at the same time due to safety concerns, unless a court order specifies otherwise.
Evidence firearms will not be returned without instructions from the State Attorney’s Office or a Court Order, unless the case was “Nol Prosse” or results in a judgment of acquittal. Proper photo identification must be presented and pursuant F.S.S. 790.08, the charges in the case must be concluded.
Firearms on non-evidentiary nature (safekeeping, death investigations, suicidal incidents, etc.) shall not be released without direction from the designated case agent or their supervisor.
Firearms subject to Court Ordered Domestic Injunctions:
Release requires a certified copy of the court order lifting the injunction prepared by the judge who issued the injunction. There are no exceptions.
Property & Evidence Section FAQ's
What are the Evidence Unit's operating hours?
We're open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. We're located at 251 W Plant St, Winter Garden FL 34787 and can be reached by phone at (407) 656-3636 ext 2235.
I've been notified that you have property of mine and I no longer want it. What should I do?
Just send us a letter stating that you no longer want the property and we will dispose of the items for you. If the item is sold at auction, however, you are not entitled to any of the proceeds.
Can I claim something that I found and turned in to WGPD?
Yes, providing that certain conditions are met. Check our Claiming Your Property section above for information on these conditions.
How can I claim my firearm you are storing?
The return of firearms requires special documentation. Check the Claiming Your Property section above for details.
Do I need an appointment to pick up property?
Yes, appointments are arranged Monday thru Friday from 08:00am to 5:00pm. Calling ahead to (407) 656-3636 ext 2235 is done to ensure that someone is available to you, and that your property is ready for release. Please have your case number available.
Do I need to bring identification?
Yes, you will need to bring a valid picture identification with your correct address.
Can someone other then myself pick up my property for me?
Yes, you may assign another person to retrieve your property with a notarized letter of authorization and photo identification. The letter must be addressed to the Winter Garden Police Department and include your case number, the name of the person you are granting authority, your signature, and Notary stamp and signature.
Can I get my property back if I am a minor?
Property will only be released to a parent or guardian, who must show legal guardianship proof.
How long is Property held?
Different types of property are held for different lengths of time. For instance, Found Property is held for a period of 90 days unless it is claimed by the owner. Evidence items are held until such time as they are no longer needed for trial or the statute of limitations expires. Statute of limitations may vary depending on the seriousness of the crime. Additionally, some items can be released pursuant to a court order or authorization from the State Attorneys Office.
What happens to unclaimed Property?
Property which remains unclaimed by a legal owner will be disposed of by destruction, conversion to City property, donation to charity, public auction, or returned to the finder if a claim was made when the property was recovered.
Still have a question?
Any questions not answered here you are more than welcome to contact us directly at:
|Winter Garden Police Department|
|Property and Evidence Unit|
|251 W Plant Street, Winter Garden, FL 34787|
|Luke Smith||or||Erin Chong|
|(407) 656-3636 ext 5486||(407) 656-3636 ext 4407|
|or email: firstname.lastname@example.org||or email: email@example.com|