VIOLATION OF PROBATION
Most judges take the attitude that a Violation of Probation is a direct snub to a court order and give few second chances. It is even worse if there are allegations of a new law violation. However, the state must first prove that the violation was willful, basically on purpose. Don’t go it alone. If you believe that your probation officer is going to violate your felony or misdemeanor probation, then contact Attorneys Alavi, Bird & Pozzuto to discuss your case today. With proven experience in Florida Violation of Probation cases, our Violation of Probation Lawyers understands that the stakes are high and losing a VOP hearing may mean prison. We will investigate the allegations and strenuously fight to get you the best possible outcome. Please call (352) 732-9191 to determine what you may do now to avoid further penalties later and to get the best possible result in your VOP case.
Judges Typically Issue Arrest Warrants in VOP Cases
Once the Florida probation officer files an allegation of violation of probation, the judge usually signs a warrant for your arrest. The arrest warrant for a violation of probation (VOP) usually has a “no bond” provision, meaning that unless you retain an attorney to resolve your case quickly or obtain a bond, you may be sitting in jail for weeks or months until your Florida probation violation case is resolved.
Do Not Fail to Report
People on probation who believe they will be arrested for violation of probation often stop reporting to their probation officer. Failing to report to your probation officer, however, makes the matter worse by causing additional grounds for the violation. The judge may then be less inclined to give you another chance at successfully completing your probation when you are eventually arrested on the warrant.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help After a Probation Violation
- Your probation lawyer can contact your probation officer on your behalf and request additional time to allow you to come into compliance with the terms of your probation before the violation affidavit is submitted to the court. Your attorney might also be able to help you come up with ways to come into compliance faster.
- In other cases, your Gainesville or Ocala criminal defense attorney can file a motion which may allow you to turn yourself in on the Florida warrant in the courtroom where the judge can set a reasonable bond in the case, dismiss the allegation or release you on your own recognizance (ROR), which might allow you to avoid going into custody altogether.
- Alternatively, our Probation Attorneys can arrange for you to turn yourself in on the violation of probation warrant at the jail, and then represent you at your first appearance hearing which might take place the next morning after you surrender yourself to the jail.
- Additionally, your criminal defense attorney can schedule a bond hearing to give you the best chance at having your case resolved quickly if you are not released after your first appearance court date. If your case cannot be resolved in a favorable manner, your attorney can request that the court set a reasonable bond so that you can be released from custody to come into compliance with any outstanding terms prior to your next court date.
If you are taken into custody on a Florida violation of probation warrant, your attorney can immediately file a motion for bond on your behalf. In many cases, an attorney can help get you back in front of the judge in days instead of weeks. Even if the court is not inclined to grant bond, the court may be inclined to resolve the case that day. The best result might be dismissing the VOP affidavit or simply reinstating the probation to give you another chance to successfully complete the probation.
The Definition of Technical Violations and Substantive Probation Violations
Violations of probation can be divided into two categories: technical violations and substantive violations. Read more about the legal definitions of the terms used in violation of probation cases in Florida.
- The term technical violation is defined as a violation of a term or condition of the probation that does not involve an allegation that you were arrested or committed a new law violation. Technical violations of probation can include failing to pay restitution, fines or court costs, failing to complete community service, failing a urine test, or failing to meet with your probation officer.
- The term substantive violation is defined to include any new arrest on a law violation that occurred after you were put on probation including any felony or a misdemeanor criminal offense. In some cases, the probationer will be arrested on a warrant for a crime that allegedly occurred before the person was put on probation which should not be counted as a violation of probation.
Violation of Probation Hearings
In a violation of probation case, there is no jury trial and the burden of proof is merely a preponderance of the evidence (not the higher “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard). Consequently, prosecutors may have a much easier time winning a violation of probation hearing then winning a case during a jury trial.
If you are found to be in violation of your probation, either after a hearing or after entering an “admission,” the court can sentence you to any sentence that could have originally been imposed, which means that you can receive the statutory maximum sentence for that particular crime.
For example, on a third-degree felony, such as possession of a controlled substance, you could receive five (5) years in Florida State Prison for violating your probation, even if the violation was merely for a technical violation. However, the court has other options besides prison. The Court can find you in violation, extend the time that you are on probation, and impose additional special conditions, such as additional community service, counseling, or a drug residential program with follow up treatment.
Additionally, the Court can revoke and terminate the probation, adjudicate you guilty of the underlying offense (enter a conviction) and impose a sentence of jail or prison time which can be up to the statutory maximum for the offense.
However, if the court does not find you in violation of your probation, the court can dismiss the allegation.
Defenses to a Violation of Probation Affidavit
Tania Alavi, Christine Bird & Andrew Pozzuto are experienced Florida Violation of Probation Attorneys who will strategically determine which defenses may help you win your Violation of Probation Hearing. A violation of probation or a violation of community control can only occur when the violation is willful, deliberate and substantial.
The trial court is required to review each allegation of violation on a case-by-case basis to determine under the particular facts and circumstances of the case, whether a particular violation is willful and substantial by the greater weight of the evidence.
We will work to show the court that you have made reasonable efforts to comply with the terms and conditions of probation. If successful, then you may not be found in violation of probation. A violation of probation in Florida is not willful or substantial if a person makes a good faith and reasonable efforts to comply with the conditions of probation, but fails to comply because of some factor out of the individual’s control such as a medical emergency or mental illness.
The violation of probation may not be willful if the person was told or otherwise led to believe that his/her probation was over and that she/he was no longer required to report.
The failure to submit one monthly report or to submit the report late may not be substantial when the individual is otherwise in compliance with the terms of probation. A curfew violation may not be a substantial violation of probation if the individual was not at the residence at the required time due to unexpected car trouble or other circumstances out of his/her control.