Probation is a common feature of the Florida criminal justice system. It is a type of supervised release which allows offenders to live in the community with restrictions. Many people have probation instead of a prison sentence or are released early and serve the remainder of their sentence on probation. Still, other defendants serve probation while adjudication of their charges is withheld.
Unfortunately, some of the restrictions are onerous, or you might inadvertently violate one of them. Because probation isn't a right, a judge could revoke probation and send you to jail or prison for failing to follow your conditions.
Please contact The Watson Firm today. We can argue that you shouldn't lose your probation or that you didn't commit a violation in the first place.
What Are Different Types Of Probation?
The five most common types of Florida probation are:
- Administrative probation. You are on probation but do not need to meet with a probation officer.
- Straight supervised probation. You must follow the terms of probation and meet regularly with an officer.
- Community control. This is a type of supervised custody that often requires ankle monitors. Your freedom is severely curtailed, and you must meet regularly with a probation officer.
- Drug offender probation. You will have a drug treatment plan that you must follow under supervision. Random drug testing is standard to make sure you stop using drugs.
- Sex offender probation. You will have a treatment plan created for sex offenders and will be under direct supervision.
What Are Common Conditions Of Probation?
Although probation helps you avoid jail, you do not have total freedom while out. Instead, your probation will have certain conditions, depending on the type of probation you receive. The following are very common conditions put on your release:
- Mandatory completion of a drug or alcohol program
- Random drug testing
- Regular reporting to a probation officer
- Maintaining a clean criminal record (no more arrests)
- Paying debts
- Supporting children or other dependents
- Staying within specific geographic boundaries
If you violate any of these conditions, even once, you can get arrested and possibly lose your probation.
Will I Automatically Lose My Probation For A Violation?
Not necessarily. A judge has the power to modify or reinstate probation. However, the judge could also revoke probation. There will be a hearing before a judge where you can present evidence.
An attorney can help argue that you should continue with probation or at least modify it. This will help you maintain your freedom.
Are All Probation Violations The Same?
No. There are two types of violation:
A substantive violation means you committed another crime while on probation. For example, you might be on probation for robbery. While out, you get arrested for DUI. This is a substantive violation.
A technical violation is an offense that isn't a crime. For example, it's not illegal to stay out past 9 pm. But it is a technical violation if the conditions state you should be home before nine o'clock and you aren't.
Both substantive and technical violations are serious and could result in probation revocation. However, substantive violations can also start another criminal case against you. In that sense, they are worse.
How Will A Judge Know I Violated My Probation?
There are a couple of ways. One, you could be arrested for a crime. A judge will see that you are on probation when you are brought into court.
In other situations, your probation officer will complete an Affidavit of Violation and submit it to the court. This is a sworn document explaining how you broke the conditions of your probation.
A judge will review the factual allegations and determine whether you made a reasonable attempt to comply or whether your violation was willful. A judge will issue a warrant for your arrest if they believe you willfully violated your probation.
If Arrested For A Probation Violation, Can I Get Out On Bond?
You might. However, you are not entitled to release on bond. The good news is that your attorney can argue to a judge that you deserve release on bond. Or your attorney can argue that the bond amount is too high and should be lower.
Because you are not automatically entitled to release, you could sit in jail for months. An attorney is an excellent asset if you want to fight for your freedom.
What Happens At A Probation Hearing?
A judge will determine whether you violated your probation and, if so, what to do. It's important to realize that the burden of proof for a probation violation is lower than in a criminal trial. The standard is a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge will need to be convinced that it is more likely than not that you willfully violated your probation. That's all it takes.
Once a judge finds you violated probation, they consider whether to revoke probation, modify it, or reinstate it without modifications. Judges have broad discretion in this area. For that reason, your choice of attorney can improve your chances dramatically.
It is also essential to make a good impression on the judge. This means being respectful, dressing in clean clothes, and not using profanity. Your attorney can discuss how to present yourself in court.
What Happens If A Judge Revokes My Probation?
You'll probably head to prison or jail. A judge could even increase the time you'll serve in prison.
In other cases, you might have received withholding of adjudication, which would have allowed you to avoid a conviction if you completed probation. After a violation, the judge could convict you of the offense. These are serious consequences. You owe it to yourself to get legal advice about making your best defense.
Can I Have A Lawyer At The Probation Hearing?
Yes. We strongly recommend it. Should a judge conclude you willfully violated probation, your attorney can argue that they should reinstate or modify it. Your attorney will know what arguments to make and what evidence is helpful.
Defendants who represent themselves often make arguments that judges find insulting. No judge wants to hear that the terms of your probation are too complicated or that you're stressed out having to take a drug test every week.
Instead, we might gather evidence to show that your violation was not intentional. For example, you might have been sick with COVID or another illness, so you missed an appointment with your probation officer. Or you accidentally left the county limits without knowing it.
We can also explain that you deserve another chance at probation or that simple modifications are necessary. Our legal team does everything possible to keep your probation from being revoked.
Speak With A Florida Probation Violation Lawyer
The Watson Firm is prepared to assist anyone facing the prospect of losing their probation. It is much harder to maintain family relations and support yourself if you are sent to jail. To find out if you can stay free, call our law firm to schedule a consultation with our probation violation lawyer. Please call 850-607-2929 or submit an online message.