Probation Violation Defense Attorneys in Florida
Defending Against Probation Violations in Florida
Probation sentences often are used as an alternative to incarceration, and other times, they follow a period of imprisonment. While they are often thought of as a lesser sentence, probation should still be taken very seriously. If you violate the terms of your probation in Florida, you can face severe repercussions. In some cases, your probation could be revoked, and you could end up with a more serious sentence after the court decides that it cannot trust you with more lenient terms.
How do People Violate the Terms of their Probation?
Florida defines violations of probation as a person's willful and substantial failure to comply with the terms set forth in his or her probation. The failure can be substantive or technical. In order to prove that a person violated probation, case law dictates that the state must meet a standard of "the greater weight of the evidence."
What Makes a Violation Willful?
Willful violations must involve some form of intent to not comply with one’s probation requirements. If the court stated that the defendant must complete 100 hours of community service, and the defendant never arrived at the designated place of service, that would likely be considered a willful violation. However, if the defendant arrived and was told that the site had nothing for him or her to do, and therefore could not complete the required hours, that would not constitute a willful violation. If the defendant had a mental illness that prohibited the completion of some terms of the probation, that too could lead a court to find that the person was not in willful violation of probation.
When is a Probation Violation Substantive?
A violation that is substantive takes place when the person who is on probation commits a crime during his or her probationary period.
There must be more than a hearsay allegation that the person committed another legal offense. The alleged violations will undergo review to determine if they are, in fact, substantial and based on reliable evidence.
What are Technical Probation Violations?
Technical violations are those in which the person on probation violates a specific requirement in his or her probation terms. One common way that this can happen is that the defendant failed to pay the fines that were instituted in the probation terms. Remember, however, that the violation must be willful. If the person was not able to pay the fines because he or she cannot find gainful employment, that would not be a willful violation. The burden of proof in these cases is on the person who is on probation. In most cases, the state is tasked with the burden of proving that the person violated probation terms. In these situations, the defendant must prove, by a standard of "clear and convincing evidence," that he or she could not meet the payment obligations.
In other cases, the person may not perform required community service, may not undergo a treatment program that was required in the terms, failed a drug test, or even if he or she does not appear for, or arrives late to appointments related to the probation.
In the event that the violation is a failure to complete a treatment program, the state must have placed a time constraint on the person in which he or she must have completed such a program. For example, if the court gives the defendant six months to complete a program, and seven months later, the person still has not completed it, then the defendant is in violation of his or her probationary terms.
What are the Consequences of Violating Probation in Florida?
If you violate the terms of your probation, you will likely face arrest. Your probation officer will often file paperwork to indicate that you are in violation of your probation terms. The probation officer’s statement detailing why he or she reasonably believes that you violated your terms of probation must be sworn.
A hearing will be scheduled, and you will likely be held without bond until that hearing occurs.
One important factor in these cases is that the state does not face the same burden of proof in a probation violation as they do in proving a crime. The standard to convict someone of a crime is "beyond a reasonable doubt." The system works to make it easier for the state to find that you violated probation.
In some cases, you may not be able to refuse to testify against yourself. Your right against self-incrimination can be revoked through the terms of your probation agreement. Courts in Florida have deemed this to be legal.
When you enter the court for a probation violation hearing, it is important to understand that many of the legal rights and protections afforded to a criminal defendant will not be available. The need to have a skilled Florida Probation Defense Attorney is critical in these cases. Never underestimate the possible consequences of these hearings.
What Penalties Will I Face for Violating Florida Probation Terms?
Under Florida Statutes Section 948.06, a judge has three options when it comes to penalizing a person for a probation violation; they are as follows:
- Reinstate the same terms of the original probation;
- Modify the terms of probation;
- Revoke your probation terms and issue a prison or jail sentence.
It is within the power of the judge to sentence you to the maximum available penalty for the crime of which you were originally convicted.
Musca's Florida Probation Violation Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you are facing charges for violating probation, do not wait to find an experienced attorney to represent your legal rights and interests. The dedicated Florida Probation Violation Defense Attorneys at Musca Law are ready to talk to you about your claim and to work with you to protect your rights. Call us today at (888) 484-5057 for a consultation with an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney.