Violation of Probation in Tampa, FL
What is Probation? What is a Violation of Probation?
In Florida, after a person has been found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, the Judge may order the person be placed on probation.
Probation is a type of community supervision. Typically, a person on probation must complete community service hours, pay fines, court costs, and restitution, and complete substance abuse treatment.
If while on probation, a Defendant violates the terms of his probation, the probation officer will sign an affidavit stating that the Defendant has violated his probation and requesting that the Judge issue an arrest warrant for the Defendant.
Common violations include new criminal charges, failed drug tests, failure to complete substance abuse treatment, failure to pay financial obligations, and failure to attend appointments with the probation officer.
In order to sign the arrest warrant, the Judge must have probable cause to believe that the Defendant has violated his probation.
If the judge finds there is probable cause to believe that the defendant has violated his probation, the Judge normally makes a “no bond” notation on the arrest warrant. That means that the Defendant will be stuck in jail without a bond until the violation of probation is resolved.
How Does a Judge Determine if a Defendant Has Violated Probation?
The Judge holds a hearing and witnesses may be called by both the State and Defense.
The Judge may revoke the Defendant’s probation only if the State proves “by the greater weight” of the evidence that the Defendant willfully violated a specific condition of his probation. This standard, “by the greater weight”, is much easier for the State to prove than the “beyond a reasonably doubt standard” used in criminal trials.
What Happens if the Judge Decides that a Defendant has Violated his Probation?
The Judge may impose any sentence that he or she could have originally imposed on the Defendant at the original sentencing. For example, if the violation of probation was for a first time DUI, the judge could sentence the Defendant to the maximum incarceration allowed by law – 180 days of jail.
Can an Attorney Help The Violation of Probation Process Go More Smoothly?
Often times, yes.
An attorney can contact the probation officer before the probation officer reports the violation to the Judge and request additional time. This extra time can allow the Defendant the opportunity fulfill the terms of his probation and avoid a violation.
If this is unsuccessful, an attorney can attempt to arrange for the Defendant to surrender himself before the Judge that issued the warrant. This is important because only the judge that issued the arrest warrant can remove the “no bond” status.
Defenses to a Violation of Probation
- The Violation Was Not Willful
Sometimes a Defendant violates a term of probation, but the violation is not willful. For example, say that a probationer does not complete a required substance abuse evaluation – but the reason the Defendant can’t complete the evaluation is because the substance counselor has been on vacation. In this case, the violation of probation was not willful and should be dismissed.
- Inability to Pay Costs of Supervision or Restitution or Fines
As stated above, a violation of probation must be willful. Under Florida Law, if the probationer can prove by clear and convincing evidence his inability to pay costs, restitution or fines, the Judge will dismiss the violation.
Are you looking for the best criminal defense lawyer in Tampa Florida to represent you in a Violation of Probation matter?
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of violating their probation. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling Violation of Probation matters.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a Violation of Probation in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.