Violations of Probation in Florida
Violations of Probation, commonly referred to as a “VOP”, typically result in VOP Hearings. The procedures in Violations of Probation, whether misdemeanor or felony, are different from that of a new crime.
You are not afforded all the rights under the Constitution once you are sentenced to probation.
What Rights Do I Lose on Probation?
The following are a few of the common rights you may lose when you are sentenced to probation:
- You can be arrested without a warrant.
- You do not have the constitutional right to a bond! You are still entitled to a bond hearing, but the court is not required or obligated to grant a bond. But I still fight for bond for my clients in Florida because certain statutes and rules permit a bond.
- You do not have a right to a jury trial.
- You can be forced to testify against yourself!
- The State can use Hearsay. Although not as the sole basis to prove your violation.
- The State does not have to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that even if you have new charges that have been dropped or even if you were found not guilty by a jury on an underlying charge, the State can and may use the charges against you.
- Gain or commutation time may be forfeited.
- You may be sentenced to a term without the possibility of future gain time.
- You may be sentenced to any term the court may have originally sentenced,
- You can have your Withhold of Adjudication revoked.
- If you qualify as a Violent Felon of Special Concern you are required to have a Danger Hearing.
Violations of Probation create many additional hurdles. Admitting to Violations of Probation in Florida can have many ramifications. Many Counties (like Sarasota, Manatee, and Duval) have have fast-track dockets, sometimes called Early Case Resolution (ECR). But that doesn’t mean that you will get a good deal at ECR.
Although the State may have the initial advantage, I have successfully defended many clients accused of violating their probation.
WHAT IS A PROBATION VIOLATION?
A part of a sentence, the court may place a person on probation. Whether misdemeanor or felony, a probation officer will instruct the person on the conditions of probation. The conditions are simply things the court wants a person to do or things the court wants a person to refrain from. If a person disobeys these conditions, the probation officer will file an affidavit stating that the person has violated the terms of his or her probation. These violations can be in two forms: technical or substantive.
A technical violation is any violation of either a general or special conditions of probation. The following are a few examples of a Technical Violation of Probation:
- Changing your address for one day without notifying probation,
- Failing to pay court costs or restitution,
- Missing a monthly reporting,
- Testing positive for controlled substances or alcohol if prohibited, and
- Failing to complete substance abuse evaluations
Technical violations are generally less severe than Substantive Violations, but they can still result in additional incarceration.
A substantive violation of probation occurs when a person commits a new crime. Substantive violations can quickly result in jail or prison sentences. The following may occur with a substantive violation of probation:
- You may be sentenced up to the maximum penalty the court could have originally sentenced.
- For felony violation, the score sheet points may be increased by as many as 24 points! This means that a person who may not have scored prison originally may be subject to incarceration in the Department of Corrections.
- If the new crime occurred in another county, the sentence in the violation is not presumed to be concurrent.
The following are examples of violations of probation:
- You pled to Burglary of a Structure, a third degree felony. The original score sheet had a total of 38 points. After 24 months on probation, you could not afford to live in your apartment, so you moved back to your parent’s house. Since it was your parent’s house, you figured that you didn’t have to tell the probation officer until the monthly meeting. You were scheduled to terminate probation in two weeks.
- Potential Result: Probation can violate you for failing to update them when you moved, so based on that violation you now score to a minimum term of 12 months in the Department of Corrections. The judge may sentence you up to five years of imprisonment even though you have done everything else to the best of your ability. The time on probation is not considered towards a term of incarceration.
- You pled to Grand Theft, a third degree felony. This was your first felony offense, so the court withheld adjudication and sentenced you to eighteen months of probation. While on probation, you were stopped for speeding. You forgot to pay a ticket from two years ago, so the officer gave you a citation for Driving with a Suspended License. When you went to the monthly meeting to the probation officer, the officer arrested you in the waiting room for violating the law and took you to jail. So you sit in jail until your next hearing, which can be more than two weeks away.
- Potential Result: Based on the violation, you may become a convicted felon. Additionally, your license may be suspended for the driving violation in addition to the adjudication for grand theft. You could receive a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years, even if you had done everything else correctly.
Why Should You Hire an Experienced Trial Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer that has actual experience in handling Violations of Probation cases in Florida may be the difference between prison and a more favorable result. I have personally handled thousands of these types of cases, both as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. As a defense attorney, I have drafted and argued motions that have resulted in actual dismissals of all charges against my clients. I have also successfully defeated Violations of Probation cases through evidentiary hearings.
I have successfully handled Violation of Probation Cases throughout Sarasota, Manatee, and Duval counties in Florida. If you have been accused of this type of crime, call me immediately to discuss your case. Let my experience handling these cases from both sides of the aisle assist you in preparing your best defense.
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