Probation isn’t quite freedom, but most would agree that it’s a lot better than being locked up in jail or prison. While there are a lot of rules that come along with probation, understanding them and knowing what constitutes a violation of probation can help you prioritize your probation activities and stay on the right side of the law.
What is Probation?
Probation is court-mandated supervision that requires an individual to abide by certain restrictions and to check in regularly with a probation officer. A judge may sentence an individual to a probation period instead of incarceration or in addition to incarceration.
While probation is better than incarceration or prison time, for most individuals convicted of the crime, some find the regulations too restrictive and have trouble adhering to the various terms imposed on them. This can lead to those individuals violating their probation period. Remember that probation is a privilege, not a right.
What is a Violation of Probation?
Being on probation means following a lot of rules and probation orders. Some may seem arbitrary, however, to get through the probationary period, it’s crucial that individuals abide by the terms of their probation.
Of course, no one is perfect and violating probation is part of the course. So, what happens if you violate probation in Florida? Read on to find out.
There are two types of violation of probation recognized in Florida: technical violations and substantive violations.
Technical Violations of Probation
Breaking one of the terms of your probation will result in a technical violation. Some of these rules are set by the judge, while others are enshrined in Chapter 948 of the Florida statutes.
Here are a few common technical probation violations.
Missing an Appointment
It’s crucial that you meet with your probation officer and any other party (such as a legal counsel or therapist) you are required to report to as part of your probation. Missing one appointment may not result in a violation of probation as long as you have a reasonable explanation. However, missing more than one, or failing to have an excuse for missing one, can lead to a violation of probation, more community service hours, or jail time.
Failing to Pay Fines and Court Costs
As part of your probation, you may be required to reimburse the state for certain costs, make restitution, or pay a fine. Not meeting these fiduciary obligations will violate probation. If you are unable to do so because you are not employed, you can defend against the violated probation charge by showing that you are not able to pay. At the same time, the state will try to make the criminal case that you are, in fact, able to pay the fines but that you are willfully refusing to do so.
Failing a Drug Test
During your probation, you may be required to take random drug tests. If you receive a positive result on an illegal drug test, you will be charged with violating probation. Fighting against this charge is possible, but it will require a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney who can pinpoint issues with the process and the procedures used during the drug tests.
Failing to Complete Court-Ordered Programs
Depending on your original conviction, you may be tasked with attending a court-ordered program such as a substance abuse program, alcoholics anonymous, or therapy. If you do not attend the program, you will violate probation and will be charged with criminal activity.
Again, it is possible to defend against this technical violation, but because doing so will require delving into case law, you’ll want an experienced attorney on your side.
Substantive Violations of Probation
If a probationer committed a law violation of a crime during the probationary period, this is considered a substantive violation of your probation. Individuals charged with a substantive violation who are on felony probation will be sent back to jail or prison while they await their probation violations hearing.
During the probation hearing, you will be able to share your side of the story and present evidence that could support you in court. You will also need to prepare for a trial on any new charges you face. If you are charged with another crime, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
What Happens if You Violate Your Probation?
If an individual is believed to have violated their probation, they will be charged with that violation and a hearing will be set up. During that hearing, the prosecutor must show that the defendant willfully and substantially failed to meet the conditions of their granted probation. If you are found guilty of violating probation, you could be sent to county jail. There is a rich case law history when it comes to probation, but to truly take advantage of it, you need qualified legal representation.
Defending Against Violation of Probation in Florida
Willfully and substantially are the operative words when it comes to defending against probation violations and maintaining your freedom.
There are certain situations where an individual may violate their probation through no fault of their own. That means that they did not willfully violate their probation and they should not be penalized.
For example, not having a job to pay back fines or not having access to a reliable mode of transportation to attend meetings may lead to probation violations. The defendant could’ve had every intention to meet those obligations but due to circumstances beyond their control, they weren’t able to. This means they did not willingly violate their probation.
Telling a story to the judge will not help. It’s important to have a legal explanation—not just an excuse.
Do You Need a Defense Attorney for Probation Violations?
A probation violation could lead to the loss of your freedom while serving a jail sentence. Don’t let this happen to you! It’s imperative that you get yourself a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney to help you to avoid a prison sentence. Otherwise, you could end up back behind bars to serve the remainder of your sentence.
Hiring a Tampa Probation Violation Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with violating your probation, seek help immediately! A skilled Tampa criminal defense probation violation attorney can help you build a defense against the charge while protecting your rights and your freedom.
Mike G is a former prosecutor and has dealt with probation from a variety of viewpoints. He knows how to defend against a probation violation charge and can help you secure the best possible outcome for your case. Contact Mike G Law today and protect your future.