A probation officer made an impromptu visit to the home of a probationer. The Defendant was not home and failed to abide by the 10:00 p.m. curfew, as set forth in his probation sentence. The Defendant lost track of time while getting a new tattoo and arrived home over 30 minutes late. The Defendant also owed over $700 in overdue fines and Court costs in accordance with his sentence. The Officer arrested the Defendant and placed him in custody. The Defendant faced jail time for the Violation of Probation charge.
Probation in Florida
Probation in Florida can be defined as a form of supervision in which the offender follows a set of rules and guidelines that are set by the court. Probation is an alternative to jail time. A probation officer is assigned to each offender on probation. Offenders must meet or have regular contact with their probation officer.
Probation ends in one of two ways. Either your probation will expire naturally, as set forth in the terms of your probation sentence, or the court may formally terminate the probation. The probation officer has no say in if the probation can be terminated early, however, the judge may ask for his or her recommendation on the matter.
A violation of probation only occurs when the offender deliberately and willfully violates any terms set forth on their probation sentence. Violations, where an offender could claim to be unintentional, may not qualify as a violation of probation.
Standard Conditions of Probation
While every probation sentence is different, there are some standard conditions of probation that every judge in Florida must follow.
- Not associating with anyone who engages in any criminal acts
- Regular contact with the probation officer
- Unannounced visits from the probation officer
- Consenting to searches
- Restricted travel
- Random urine tests if needed
- Not getting arrested for anything
- Being nowhere near any firearms
A judge can also make special conditions for any probation sentence as long as they are reasonable.
Probation hearings are different from criminal case hearings. Probation hearings do not offer the same constitutional protection as individuals have in criminal cases, and they have a lower standard of proof. The prosecution will need to argue against the defense that it was more likely that the offender did violate their probation sentence.
Overdue Fines and Court Costs
If outstanding fines and court costs are owed from those offenders that violate their probation, the judge must first determine that the offender failed to comply with the terms of the probation willingly.
RESULT: The Defense moved forward with preparing for a Violation of Probation hearing on the Client’s behalf. The Attorney obtained letters of recommendation in anticipation of the Court date. The Attorney successfully argued the case and the Client avoided jail time. The Court ruled in the Defense’s favor with a no formal finding of guilt order.