If you or a loved one has been accused of a probation violation in Florida, don’t wait. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to aggressively fight for your rights. The lawyers of Suskauer Feuer, LLC, located in West Palm Beach, FL can help. Contact us today.
For many criminal offenses in Florida, state statutes allow the courts to order probation as part, or the entirety of, an offender’s adjudicated sentence. When a court decides on the option of probation, a person convicted of a crime gets the chance to remain in the community instead of going to prison.
Types of Probation in Florida
The Florida Department of Corrections issues the following types of probation, based upon the court’s recommendations:
The offender must obey certain conditions and be in regular contact with probation and/or parole officers.
The offender must obey certain conditions but is not required to be in regular contact with a probation or parole officer.
The offender is under supervised custody which may include restricted travel and police surveillance.
Community Control II
The offender is under full-time supervision of probation officers, and may have some measure of residential confinement and/or 24/7 electronic surveillance.
Sex Offender Probation
The offender is under strict supervision by an officer and must follow a court mandated treatment plan.
Probation Rules and Restrictions
Probation requires that a defendant follow certain court-ordered rules and restrictions, which can include any or all of the following:
- Performing some sort of community service
- Regularly reporting to a probation officer
- Refraining from the use of drugs or alcohol
- Avoiding certain places and/or people
- Appearing in court as requested
- Attending court-mandated rehabilitation programs as necessary
- Paying restitution to crime victims
- Restricted travel
- Submitting to drug and/or alcohol testing
- Obeying the law
A Violation of Probation (VOP) occurs whenever a defendant breaks any of the terms of his or her probation agreement. The nature of, and penalties for, probation violations in Florida are listed in Chapter 948 of the Florida Statutes. Depending upon the type and seriousness of the violation, whether or not there have been any past probation violations, and what the particular circumstance of the violation are, significant penalties are possible, including fines, extended probation and/or jail time.
The following list contains common probation violations:
- Missing a court appearance
- Not reporting to a probation officer as directed
- Not paying court-ordered fines or restitutions
- Not avoiding certain places or people as ordered
- Possessing, using or selling illegal drugs
- Not reporting to a mandated rehabilitation program
- Committing another crime while on probation
If you have been found guilty of a crime and have been granted probation as all or part of your sentence, and then you violate your probation order in any way, the following scenario is likely to occur. First, your probation officer will decide whether or not you will simply receive a warning and/or reprimand, or, if he or she decides that the violation was serious enough, may determine that you will have to appear in court for a probation hearing.
In court, you will not have a jury trial – a judge, alone will hear your case. The prosecuting attorney will try to prove that you did indeed violate the terms of your probation and the evidence need not be overwhelming. The court will make a decision based only upon a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning a likelihood of at least 50 percent that you are guilty. The judge will also consider such factors as the violation’s seriousness, any past history of probation violation, and any other relevant circumstances pertaining to the alleged violation. In addition, you may be required to testify as a witness at your own hearing.
Florida law recognizes two types of probation violations: technical and substantive.
Technical Probation Violation
A technical violation is a violation of any of general or specific condition of your probation, i.e. missing a meeting with your probation officer, not completing court-ordered classes, not making restitution, changing your address without permission, etc.
Substantive Probation Violation
A substantive violation occurs if you were to commit a new crime. And if you do commit a new crime during your probation period, you can be prosecuted for it at any time afterward; all statutes of limitation are waived.
Legal Assistance for a Probation Violation in Florida
Because of the many conditions placed upon a defendant who is granted probation, it is often too easy to violate a probation agreement. And, as stated, the court need not render a verdict against you based on evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Therefore, defending against a probation violation charge requires considerable knowledge and legal skill.
At Suskauer Feuer, LLC, we have the expertise and experience to help you mount a compelling probation violation defense. Call us for a free consultation, so that we can best determine how to aid you in your case.