Most clients are very happy with the opportunity to resolve their cases for probation. Probation provides a way for a criminal defendant to avoid a more severe punishment by agreeing to be supervised and follow certain rules and conditions. The often-overlooked downside is that if a violation of probation occurs, the punishment can be very harsh. Florida Statute Section 948.06 controls the majority of violation of probation issues.
A probationer usually violates probation in one of two ways: 1) By failing to comply with specified conditions of probation such as curfew, payment of restitution or failing a drug screen, often called a “technical violation” or 2) Committing a new criminal offense. This even includes minor criminal driving charges. If you are facing a violation of probation, you need an experienced attorney to help you. It is important that you do not plead guilty to a new criminal law violation if you are on probation.
What happens next?
Your probation officer may or may not inform you that you are in violation status. Often, the first time you become aware is upon your arrest. Your probation officer will provide the details of your violation and request that a warrant be issued by the Judge handling your case. The Judge has the discretion to set a bond amount. Those in violation of probation status are not entitled to a bond and often are held without the possibility of bonding out. This is an area where having an attorney can be very helpful. If the violation is minor or has been remedied, e.g. restitution paid, the judge may set a bond for your case. An attorney would need to file a motion on your behalf, and have it set for a hearing in front of your assigned judge as soon as possible.
What happens at your court date?
Once you are arrested, a date for your Violation of Probation Arraignment will be set. This is the first court date where you will have the opportunity to deny that you violated probation or admit that you violated probation. This is very similar to a traditional arraignment where you plead guilty or not guilty. It is crucial to have an attorney at this stage of the proceedings. This is an important opportunity for your attorney to negotiate your case.
What can the Judge do to me?
The judge has broad authority to dispose of violation of probation matters. The judge generally has three choices when resolving your case: reinstate your probation, modify your probation or revoke and terminate your probation.
Why do I need a lawyer?
Violation of Probation is a complicated and often under-represented area of the law. It is important to hire a lawyer that understands the law associated with your case and can help guide you through the process from the beginning. You want a lawyer that is familiar with the Judge and the parties. So many problems can arise that require specialized legal knowledge, especially with felony probation. These issues range from incorrect credit for time served, Criminal Punishment Code score sheet errors, Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern designation to Youthful Offender issues. If you are being accused of violating your probation, call our office for a free consultation. Do not go through this alone.