Probation is a form of supervision, in lieu of serving a jail or prison sentence, in which the individual (probationer) maintains consistent contact with court-appointed state officials (probation, parole, community supervision) or approved private professionals. The probationer also must submit to a series of terms or “conditions” as provided by court order. If probationers violate their probation or do not keep in consistent contact with court-appointed officials, the court can revoke probation, and the probationer faces incarceration [Fla. Stat. § 948]
If you’re facing probation violation charges in St. Petersburg, speak with a lawyer at Goldman Wetzel right away. Contact us quickly so we can go to work for you:
- We can ask the court to withdraw your no-bond arrest warrant.
- We can ask the court to release you on your own recognizance or set bond.
- We can ask the court to dismiss the probation violation charge.
- We can ask the court to reinstate your probation to keep you out of jail.
Call us today at 727-828-3900.
Two Types of Probation Violation
Technical violations refer to the probationer not meeting a condition of supervision. There are many technical violation examples. A few include:
- Failure to keep appointments to report to probation or community control
- Failure to complete a court-ordered program, such as drug education, safe driving or community service
- Violation of court-ordered home confinement
- Failing a drug or alcohol test
Substantive violations occur when the probationer is convicted of, or likely violated, a separate criminal offense while on probation.
The state views probation as a privilege rather than a right. Though probationers may avoid incarceration, they are not relieved of any fines assessed. They must pay any fees associated with programs they are ordered to complete, as well as pay a small “appointment” fee every time they meet with probation or parole officers.
Probation Violations and Burden of Proof
Just because your probation officer says you violated probation does not automatically mean the court will revoke it. You have rights in these cases, which we will help you exercise.
Though a judge may revoke probation based on “reasonable grounds” [Fla. Stat. § 948.06 (1)] it is far from an arbitrary process. There is a burden of proof the state must meet before the court can revoke probation. The court cannot base revocation on the unproven word of one person – even if it is a probation officer. The proof must be significant and the intent to violate probation willful. As such, we may utilize the defense that your violation was unintentional or unsubstantial, and therefore you should remain on probation.
The most common probation violations are substantive: the probationer commits another criminal offense while under supervision. But just being charged with another crime is not enough to force a violation, nor is being arrested for another crime. Rare is the case in which the court deems probation violated without due process (being tried and convicted for another crime).
Probation Violation Proceedings and Penalties
These are the general steps you may face in a probation violation case. Contact us as early as you can so we can intervene to fight for a dismissal or defend you against the charges.
Step 1: Once probation revocation is initiated, the defendant’s supervising officer submits an Affidavit of Violation, which is a legal statement that declares the suspect’s violation and provides evidence or reasons supporting the charge.
Step 2: The court reviews the allegations, and if it determines that reasonable grounds exist, it sends a summons letter to the suspect or issues a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. [Fla. Stat §§ 947.22 & .23]
Step 3: Bail may or may not be granted, depending on the circumstances. We will argue for you to be released on your own recognizance or for the court to set a bond amount.
Step 4: The next step is an evidentiary hearing where the state must prove willful and substantial violation of supervision. We may argue that your violation was not willful or not substantial and that the court should therefore dismiss any probation violation charges.
Step 5: If convicted, the court may impose the original sentence. But there are many variations of the prison or jail time the violator must serve and several circumstances may affect the term of incarceration. Goldman Wetzel can help you to understand the penalties you may face and can help you build a defense.
There are other variables of this process that can be unique to each alleged probation violation. As you can see, probation is quite complicated, but probationers have legitimate rights, which we help protect and exercise. If you have been accused of a probation violation in St. Petersburg, there are effective defenses to contest or minimize such charges. Contact Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900 or fill out an online contact form to arrange a free case evaluation.