One can be placed on probation after accepting a negotiated plea offer extended by the State, or the judge can place someone on probation after an open plea is entered or after a trial and guilty verdict has been delivered. Sometimes, probation will involve a period of incarceration. This will depend upon many factors, to include seriousness of the offense and someone’s prior criminal record.
Violations of Probation
A violation of probation occurs when a person avoids, ignores, and/or refuses to abide by the terms and conditions of his or her probation. There are two types of probation violations in Florida: technical violations and substantive violations. In addition, the penalties a person may be subject to in the event of a violation are dependent upon:
- The nature and seriousness of the violation;
- If the accused has had any prior violations; and
- If other circumstances exist which would justify to the court that a lesser penalty is warranted.
When someone is found in violation of probation, penalties range from increased probation, fines and/or jail or prison sentences. As a skilled criminal defense attorney in Gainesville, Florida, Adam Stout has successfully defended many people accused of violating probation. In some instances, he was able to get the probation violation affidavit dismissed, and in others kept his clients from being sentenced to jail or state prison.
Types of Probation
There are five kinds of probation in the State of Florida. Those are:
- Mandatory Reporting Probation: This involves regular contact with a probation officer. Normally, a probationer is required to meet with his/her probation officer once a month. In addition, the probationer will be required to abide by all the terms and conditions of his/her probation. For more information about this, see Florida Statute 948.01.
- Administrative Probation: Unlike mandatory reporting probation, a probationer does not have to meet with his/her probation officer when placed on administrative probation. However, the probationer still must abide by the terms and conditions of his/her probation or be subject to having his/her probation violated. For more information about this, see Florida Statute 948.001(1).
- Community Control: This is akin to house arrest, and sometimes involves being fitted with a GPS monitor. With community control, a probationer is placed under supervised custody, and is typically required to submit a weekly schedule of his/her activities and provide this to his/her probation officer. Something as simple as not submitting a weekly schedule could subject a probationer to having his/her probation violated. For more information about this, see Florida Statute 948.001(3).
- Sex Offender Probation: This involves a probationer being sentenced to probation for committing one of the many enumerated sex crimes in the State of Florida. This kind of probation involves strict supervision. For more information about this, see Florida Statute 948.001(13).
- Drug Offender Probation: Someone who has been sentenced to drug offender probation will undergo specific treatment designed to help break addiction. Most often, this will require regular court appearances before a judge to determine if a probationer is abiding by the terms and conditions of his/her probation – and to make the probationer is not using drugs and/or alcohol. For more information about this, see Florida Statute 948.001(4).
Technical Violations of Probation
Someone commits a technical violation of probation by:
- Failing to do something that he/she was required to do as a condition of probation; and/or
- Engaging in conduct which does not rise to the level of a new criminal offense but runs contrary to the terms and conditions of his/her probation.
Here are some examples to help illustrate the above: If a probationer fails to attend anger management counseling or complete community service hours, this constitutes a technical violation of probation. If a probationer were to engage in drug use, and be found to have drugs in his/her system after being tested, this would also constitute a technical violation of probation. For more information, see Florida State 948.06(1)(h)(1).
Substantive Violation of Probation
Someone commits a substantive violation of probation when he/she engages in conduct that is unlawful. It is not necessary for the probationer to be arrested and formally charged for engaging in such conduct in order for the State to seek to violate the probationer’s probation. For instance, if John were on probation and committed a burglary, the State could still seek to violate John’s probation even if John were never arrested and charged with committing said burglary. Substantive violations of probation are much more serious than technical violations. For more information, see Florida State 948.06.
Burdens of Proof
When someone is arrested for a criminal offense in the State of Florida, the State has the burden at trial of proving that said person committed that offense beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. This is one of the highest evidentiary thresholds recognized under state law. In contrast, when someone is accused of violating his/her probation, all the State has to do is prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the probationer violated his/her probation. This is a much lower evidentiary threshold. It is critically important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing a violation of probation. As a former prosecutor, Adam Stout has the skill and experience to evaluate you case, and if need be, represent you during a violation of probation hearing.
Violation of Probation Penalties
If someone has been found in violation of his/her probation, the court has many options for imposing penalties. Depending upon the seriousness of the violation(s), the court could impose additional community service, additional counseling, a longer probationary sentence or order incarceration. The latter could result in jail, if the sentence is less than a year, or state prison if more than a year of incarceration is ordered. These are very serious consequences, and the first thing you should do if you’re facing a violation of probation is contact Adam Stout, a criminal defense attorney located in Gainesville, Florida. He is available for a free consultation and is ready to take your call.