What are the Hillsborough County Florida Probation Rules?David C. Hardy
Frequently, rather than send a person convicted of crime to jail or prison, Florida judges will sentence a person to serve a term of probation.
Florida probation rules normally involve persons having to report to a probation officer, pay court costs, pay costs of probation, perform community service hours, and attend classes.
The length of the probation term depends on the type of offense for which the person was convicted. Florida probation lengths vary from a few months to many years.
What are some of the standard terms of probation in Hillsborough County, Florida?
There are a number of conditions of Florida probation rules that are called standard conditions of probation. That means each person that a Hillsborough County judge puts on probation will have to do the following things:
- Report to the probation officer as directed.
- Pay the State of Florida the cost of supervision.
- Live in a specified place. The person cannot change their residence or employment or leave the county of your residence without first getting the consent of their probation officer.
- Not possess, carry or own any firearm.
- Not possess a weapon without first getting the consent of their officer.
- Live without violating any law.
- Not associate with any person engaged in any criminal activity.
- Not use intoxicants to excess or possess any drugs or narcotics unless prescribed by a physician.
- Not visit places where intoxicants, drugs or other dangerous substances are unlawfully sold, dispensed or used.
- Work diligently at a lawful occupation, advise their employer of their probation status, and support any dependents to the best of their ability.
- Promptly and truthfully answer all inquiries directed by the judge or the probation officer.
- Allow a probation officer to visit in their home or job.
- Comply with all instructions their probation officer may give them.
- Pay court costs.
- Submit to random testing.
- Submit a DNA sample.
- Submit to the taking of a photograph. This photograph may be displayed on the Florida Department of Corrections website.
What are some of the special terms of probation in Hillsborough County, Florida?
In addition to the standard terms of probation in Hillsborough County, the judge may also impose what are called special conditions of probation. For example, a Hillsborough County judge may order a person on probation to do the following things:
- Undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. This is common in Tampa DUI cases.
- Pay restitution to any victim in the case. This is common in Tampa property crime cases, such as theft cases.
- Perform community service hours.
- Attend an anger management class. This is common in battery and assault cases.
- Participate in a domestic violence intervention program.
Can you leave the State of Florida while on a Hillsborough County probation?
No. Not unless you get your probation officer’s permission ahead of time.
What is a Hillsborough County, Florida VOP?
In Hillsborough County, Florida, VOP stands for “violation of probation.”
What happens when a person violates their Hillsborough County probation?
For some people, the conditions of Hillsborough County, Florida probation rules can be difficult to meet. For example, people on probation frequently test positive for drugs, fail to complete drug treatment problems, fail to pay costs or restitution, or fail to attend monthly meetings to submit monthly reports. Also, sometimes due to misunderstandings a probation officer will believe that a person has violated their probation, when that’s not the case.
When a Hillsborough County probation officer believes they have reasonable grounds that a person has violated their probation, the probation officer can arrest the person.
Also, a probation officer can write up a sworn statement called a violation of probation (VOP) affidavit. This affidavit describes why the probation officer believes the person has violated their probation. The probation officer then sends the VOP affidavit to a judge. If the judge reads the affidavit and decides that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has violated their probation, the judge will issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.
Many times, a Hillsborough County judge issues the VOP arrest warrant with a no bond status, which means that unless a criminal defense attorney steps in and files a motion asking the judge to release the person, the person may have to wait in jail for an extended period of time until their court date.
How Does a Hillsborough County Judge determine if a person has violated their probation?
At a violation of probation hearing, the person accused of the VOP is not entitled to a jury trial. Rather, the judge holds a hearing and both the prosecutor and defense attorney may call witnesses.
During a probation hearing, there is no constitutional right against self-incrimination. Therefore, the prosecutor has the advantage of being able to call the person on probation as a witness against himself. Additionally, while hearsay in Tampa is generally not admissible against a defendant at a criminal trial, at a revocation of probation hearing the judge may consider hearsay evidence.
Unlike at a trial where the prosecutor has to prove a person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, at a violation of probation hearing a judge may revoke the Defendant’s probation if the State proves “by the greater weight” of the evidence that the Defendant substantially and 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.”
What happens if a Hillsborough County Judge decides that a person has violated his or her probation?
The judge may impose any sentence that he or she could have originally imposed on the person 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. If the violation of probation was for misdemeanor possession of cannabis, the judge could sentence the defendant to the maximum of 12 months in jail.
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. Call our Tampa office today!