Being on probation comes with specific responsibilities. If you do not follow the parameters set by the court, violation of probation in Florida can result in severe penalties and consequences. It can impact your freedom, career, financial future, and personal life.
Compared to some other states, probation violations in Florida can be particularly serious. If you are aware of what you may face – and have a good defense attorney – you are in a much better position to tackle what comes next.
What is Probation?
The definition of probation is outlined in Chapter 948 of the Florida Statutes. It is a form of community supervision that requires an offender to abide by certain conditions determined by the court. Probation is utilized in lieu of a sentence of incarceration.
The parameters of probation will vary, depending on the particular offense and circumstances of the case. Some common terms and conditions of probation include:
- Reporting to a probation (parole) officer on a regular basis.
- Requiring staying employed throughout the duration of the probation.
- Allowing the probation officer to visit you at work, home, school, or other location.
- Being required to submit to random alcohol and drug testing.
- Prohibiting association with known criminals or participating in criminal activity.
- Prohibiting the possession or carrying of a firearm or other type of weapon
- Other terms required by the court.
What Is Probation Violation in Florida?
Violation of probation in Florida, also known as VOP, occurs when you disobey any of the terms and conditions that the courts determined for your probation. A probation violation could occur at any time after the probationary period begins through the end date listed on the official papers. If you have been sentenced to probation, it is crucial to understand the full parameters. Consulting with an attorney to review the legal documents is highly advised to ensure you have full knowledge of the expectations from the court.
If your parole officer believes that you have willfully and substantially committed a violation of probation in Florida, as laid out in Florida Statutes § 948.06, the parole officer will submit an Affidavit of Violation to the court. This legal document would include detailed information of the suspected violation and any corroborating evidence. A judge will then thoroughly review it, who will then determine whether they believe a violation has occurred. If the judge determines you are guilty of probation violations, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. Depending on what has occurred, you may be able to post bond.
After your arrest, a VOP hearing date will be set. It is important to know that VOP hearings are much different from hearings/trials when a person is originally arrested. The state does not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, just by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the state has a much lower standard in proving guilt – which could lead to very serious consequences. Additionally, hearsay is allowed. The probation officer has the right to say what they believe you did without further proof and use anything that you might have said to them against you.
Common Types of Probation Violations
As mentioned above, probation parameters will differ depending upon the case. But there are some common types of probation violations that occur in Florida. The list includes:
- Failing to pay restitution as determined by the court.
- Moving out of the city, county, or other areas listed on court documents.
- Failing to notify your parole officer that you moved or were traveling outside of a certain area.
- Failing to take a drug or alcohol screening.
- Getting a positive test on a drug or alcohol screening.
- Failing to complete drug or alcohol treatment programs.
- Failing to meet with your parole officer without prior notification or a strong excuse.
- Getting arrested for another crime.
These are some of the common probation violations in Florida, but the list is not wholly comprehensive.
Penalties and Consequences of Violating Probation in Florida
After the Affidavit of Violation is submitted and the court hearing is complete, the judge will rule in one of three ways. They will either reinstate your probation, modify your probation with altered and often more severe terms, or decide to revoke your probation and send you back to jail.
The judge’s ruling will depend not only on the information in the Affidavit of Violation and testimony by your parole officer or other witnesses but also on the strength of your defense. After violating probation, it is not a given that you will go back to jail. It frequently happens, though, particularly for individuals who attend their VOP hearing without a lawyer. A vital fact to know is that if you have your probation revoked, the sentence can not be greater than the statutory maximum penalty for the original offense.
The consequences of probation violations in Florida can be severe across multiple areas of your life. Not only can you lose your freedom, but your ability to make a living in the future can be severely impacted, and your personal and family life can be affected. You may owe more in restitution and have other more restrictive penalties.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Violation of probation in Florida should be taken very seriously. But understand that the outcome is not predetermined. Criminal defense attorneys work diligently and aggressively to get the best outcome possible for their clients. They analyze the details of the situation and advocate on your behalf in the VOP hearing. With an in-depth knowledge of the legal system, extensive resources, and powerful skills in developing strategy, a criminal defense attorney is invaluable when facing potential life-changing penalties and consequences.
Golden Key Law is here to help. Even if you make mistakes, you still have rights, and we can assist you with your violation of probation charge to get the best outcome possible.
Contact us today at 727-317-4738 to schedule a consultation.