Modifying or Terminating Probation in the State of Florida
Probation could be a blessing, and it might also be a curse. Judges in Florida, depending on the type of case and whether minimum-mandatory sentences are applicable, can order a person to serve a period of probation instead of going to jail or prison. In some cases, the relevant Florida statute requires the sentencing judge to impose probation as a sanction after a conviction.
Probation allows the judge to help the person obtain counseling or help with other needs to become a productive member of society. Notwithstanding, probation in Florida can be very taxing. The conditions of probation could be very demanding and extremely difficult to satisfy and should address the issues the probationer faces. Under Florida Statutes §948.03, a judge could order supervised probation with reporting to the probation department, order a probation officer to visit the probationer’s home or place of employment with or without notice, drug counseling, alcohol counseling, sexual abuse counseling, mental health counseling, random drug screens, random alcohol screens, restitution, not to associate with certain people including gang members, provide a blood or other biological sample, monitoring via global positioning satellite (GPS), a community service obligation, to stay away and have no contact with certain individuals, pay restitution, house arrest, curfew, find and keep a job, pursue educational opportunities, obtain a GED, paying probation service fees, and numerous other conditions with which the probationer must comply. The greater the number of probationary conditions, the more likely the person will fail and be brought to the court for a probation violation hearing.
The court’s probation officers have a substantial influence on the success of a probationer. Probation officers’ approaches toward their probationers are as varied as is a lot of humanity. Some probation officers are immensely helpful, while others are an arm of the prosecution and push for incarceration for even the slightest offense.
Florida law allows probationers to ask the sentencing judge to enter an order, either modifying or terminating probation. According to a recent change in Florida law, a probationer can ask the judge to change the term of probation for an order that reduces probation to administrative probation from supervised probation or terminates probation entirely.
Section 948.04 of the Florida Statutes authorizes judges in Florida to impose up to two years of probation for most offenses. However, the statute gives the court the authority to impose a longer term of probation if the judge believes a longer term of probation is warranted. However, §948.04 provides the probationer an incentive to work diligently to complete all of the requirements of probation. In consideration of a successful probationary term, the court could terminate the probation early, meaning before the probationary end date.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) in Florida takes an active role in helping probationers end their probation early. The Florida DOC can ask a judge to terminate the probation sentence of an individual if the person has done a satisfactory job while on probation and has not been found in violation of probation, either of a “new offense” or a so-called “technical” term of probation. Additionally, the probationer must comply with all of the terms of probation, including paying all fines, fees, and restitution. At that time, the DOC could bring the case before the sentencing judge and ask for early probation termination.
People placed on probation in Florida on or after October 1, 2019, have another means of terminating probation or reducing the burden of probation from supervised probation to administrative probation. Section 984.04(4) of the Florida Statutes indicates that the probationer, or the probation officer, has the opportunity to file a motion asking the court to either terminate probation entirely or reduce the level of scrutiny from supervised to administrative probation.
The court can alter the individual’s probationary terms to change the probation from supervised to administrative or terminate the probation under the revised statute. However, the judge shall, according to the statute, amend (meaning terminate or reduce to administrative) the person’s probation if the individual has completed at least 50 percent of the probationary term, completed all conditions of probation imposed, the person has not been adjudicated in violation of probation, the parties left open the possibility that the person could seek early termination of probation as part of a plea bargain, and §948.06(8)(b) of the Florida Statutes does not specifically prevent early termination because the individuals are determined to be a violent felon.
The presumption under the statute is for early termination of probation. Therefore, §984.04(5) requires the judge to make written findings that support the judge’s ruling changing the person’s probation from supervised to administrative instead of granting early termination of probation. The law indicates that the judge must find that the safety of the community or the “interests of justice” dictates that the probation remains in effect as administrative rather than termination probation altogether.
Probation is different than community control in many respects, including modifying the terms of probation. When a person is serving time on community control and is on probation after being released from community control, the individual does not have an opportunity to ask the judge to terminate probation until he or she has completed 50 percent of the probationary term. The probationer is not entitled to receive credit for being on community control toward the reduction of probation.
The person on probation can ask a judge to modify probation in other respects before he or she is eligible for early termination. When probation interferes with employment requirements, remain opportunities, educational opportunities, or imposes unreasonable living restrictions, then the probationer could ask the judge to revise or amend the probation convictions. Additionally, requests could be made for travel permits, elimination of drug counseling or alcohol counseling after completing the programs or changing the program from the one set by the court. Additionally, financial hardships can create even more significant legal trouble. Therefore, a judge could waive or postpone the payment of fees or extend the deadline to complete community service.
Do Miss Your Opportunity By Appearing Before a Judge Without a Lawyer
Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 and speak with the firm’s probation defense lawyers about your options. Act immediately if you are experiencing any trouble completing probation, or you need a lawyer who could help you change your probationary terms so you could wrap your probation earlier and move on with your life.