When found guilty of certain crimes, offenders might be sentenced to probation. Although many times this prevents them from imprisonment, people still need to comply with strict conditions and requirements. If you do not follow these terms, you might be charged with a violation of probation in Florida.
In the criminal justice system, probation is considered a privilege since offenders are allowed to keep most of their freedoms. As a result, not following the terms of your probation can result in serious consequences. If you were arrested for violating your probation, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer that can help you understand what the next legal steps are.
What is Probation in Florida
In Florida, probation is a form of supervision that can be used as an alternative to imprisonment. Given that it is used in lieu of serving a jail or a prison sentence when being placed on probation, defendants are required to abide by certain terms and conditions for a specified period of time.
To put it simply, probation allows defendants to serve their sentence in their community instead of going to jail or prison. In Florida, people found guilty of misdemeanors or felony offenses might be placed on probation as long as the offense is punishable by both a fine and imprisonment.
Nevertheless, imposing probation and establishing its specific conditions depends on the judge’s discretion. Additionally, depending on the crime, offenders might be placed on:
- Administrative probation: for offenders that are a low risk for the community and have completed half of their probation. It is a non-reporting form of supervision.
- Drug probation: an intensive form of supervision for offenders that are serving sentences for drug crimes. It might require completing substance abuse treatments and taking random drug tests.
- Community control: it is a more severe form of probation. Community control involves supervised ‘house arrest’ where the offender can only participate in activities approved by their probation officer.
- Sex offender probation: Florida Statute § 948.001 defines sex offender probation as a form of supervision for people guilty of a sex crime. This type of probation might include electronic monitoring and individualized treatment plans.
Rules of probation
The conditions of probation in Florida establish the rules or terms by which the probationer must abide. Depending on the facts and circumstances of a case, the judge might include special conditions. However, there are some standard conditions that all probationers need to meet.
Examples of rules of probation in Florida include the following:
- Report to the probation officer
- Allow the probation officer to make home visits
- Make reparation or restitution to the aggrieved party
- Have a suitable job
- Remain within a specified location
- Pay court and probation fees
- Do not break the law
- Prohibited from possessing, carrying or owning a firearm
- Provide financial assistance to probationer’s dependants
- Do not associate with people engaged in criminal activity
- Submit to urine tests when required
In addition to these terms, if it is suitable and necessary for the sentence, the judge might add some special conditions to the probation (such as performing community service, attending programs or treatments, etc.)
Given that failing to obey these terms might result in severe consequences, it is important that you understand the conditions of your probation. If you have questions about the rules of your probation, contact our St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys serving clients throughout Tampa Bay.
Violation of Probation in Florida
In Florida, probationers can be accused of violation of probation (VOP) if they fail to meet the conditions of their probation. The consequences of violating probation depend on how severe the infraction was. Some punishments might include revoking probation, stricter conditions or incarceration.
Based on the severity of the violation, VOP can be classified into:
- Technical violation of probation: when the probationer failed to obey a standard or special condition of the probation. Examples of a technical violation include not paying fees, failing to present a drug test, not reporting to the probation officer or failing to complete a treatment.
- Substantial violation of probation: is a more serious form of violation (VOP). It implies that the probationer committed a crime or broke the law while on probation. For example, if you are on probation for a DUI and you are charged with battery, you’ll be committing a substantial violation of probation.
When a person is accused of violating their probation, the prosecution must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the infraction was willful or substantial.
If the judge determines that there was a violation, you might face different consequences that can range from adding more severe conditions to revoking your probation and facing incarceration. As established before, penalties depend on the severity of the violation as well as if the probationer is a repeated offender.
As a probationer, you have the right to fight a VOP charge. But given that there are many variables that make a violation of probation unique, you might want to enlist the help of an experienced probation attorney.
If you have been arrested or accused of VOP in Pinellas, Sarasota, or Hillsborough County, contact the defense lawyers of Goldman Wetzel to receive first-class legal representation.
Here are some frequently asked questions that will help understand more about how probation and violation of probation work in Florida.
Contact a Probation Violation Lawyer
In Florida, probation is a form of supervision that can be imposed as an alternative to incarceration. Given that probationers are obligated to meet certain conditions, violating your probation can result in severe consequences.
Goldman Wetzel represents clients facing violation of probation charges throughout the Tampa Bay area including Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Bradenton, Sarasota, Manatee County, Clearwater, and Hillsborough County.
Being accused of violation of probation can be a stressful and terrifying ordeal. Our criminal lawyers can help you prepare a strong defense to fight for your rights. Contact us today or call at (727) 828-3900 our office to book a free, no-obligation consultation.