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Probation Violation in Florida

February 22, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 592

By accepting the terms of your probation, you are guaranteeing to the court that you can manage yourself without having to rehabilitate in jail. This is a vote of confidence that the court awards based on the premise that one's behavior will improve. If this ends up not being the case, serious consequences will follow, particularly in the state of Florida.

This light sentence can be a blessing for many whose only other option would be jail and will always be preferred to a prison sentence. Even so, being on probation comes with many requirements that will become a strain on your life in many respects, be it socially, financially or with regard to your job.

Although probation is still a punishment that needs to be completed in order to gain the freedom that you have enjoyed in the past, many who do not take it as seriously as it should be, violating their terms and unwittingly getting in more trouble.

How Can Probation Terms be violated and what are the Consequences?

Some of the ways in which individuals tend to violate probation can include, but are not limited to:

· Positive drug or alcohol tests;

· Failing to attend required treatment programs, courses, or AA meetings;

· Failing to pay the fines and fees required as a part of your probation terms;

· Not reporting to your probation officer on the correct date and/or time;

· Failing to report if you have changed addresses during the probationary period (particularly for those convicted of certain sexual offenses that require registration);

· Leaving the city, county, or state, without obtaining permission from the courts or probation officer;

· Contacting someone who has an order of protection against you; or

· Possession of firearms.

After being accused of violating your probation, you are now in a unique situation due to the fact that you were already sentenced for your crime. This, in effect, offers you less legal protection than if you were just being charged with a new crime. The Florida statute §948.06 specifically mentions the following new factors present in a probation violation case:

· No statute of limitations - meaning that you cannot simply wait out the violation of probation

· No right to a bond while awaiting a hearing - you will have to go to jail until your hearing

· No right to a trial by jury in a violation hearing - the judge has full authority to hand down sentencing

· Hearsay is admissible against you - a police officer or PO can basically just say what you did (or did not do) and you may be charged simply through word of mouth

· Guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt - if you were 50% or more likely to have violated your probation, you may be charged.

In Florida, if you happen to violate your probation, a judge can make one of three decisions:

· Reinstate your probation,

· Modify your probation, or

· Revoke your probation

Reinstatement is the best case scenario, with modification of probation coming with what will most likely be more stringent requirements, while revocation of your probation tends to bring with it the maximum penalty for the charge you were originally placed on probation for.

What are my Options for Defending my Probation Violation?

Even with all the issues that arise for violating probation in Florida, you do have options that may put you in a favorable position to keep from dealing with the most severe penalties that come with this charge.

A capable criminal defense attorney will employ many strategies in order to give you a strong chance at beating these charges. They can argue the merits of the violation itself in an attempt to get the violation dismissed, or help you get your probation reinstated by the court in lieu of more severe sanctions. They will also develop a plan of action that argues why you should not remain in custody, along with what can be accomplished if you are given the opportunity to continue with your probation conditions.

When it comes down to it, a probation violation is not something to be taken lightly and you need to retain an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney who understands probation laws well enough to develop a strong case in your defense. At this point, the judge will be looking to punish you for violating the trust they have given you, so having the right lawyer at your side is paramount in keeping you out of jail.

Melinda Morris is the managing attorney of Morris Law Firm, P.A. and has over a decade of experience in the Florida legal system, first as a state prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney. As a Florida Probation Defense Attorney she aggressively defends those in the greater Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, who are accused of various criminal offenses. This includes first-time DUI offenders, drug charges, white collar crime, traffic offenses and other charges. Melinda Morris' concern is always for the welfare of her clients and she always strives to reach the most favorable outcome in each case.

Source: EzineArticles
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