Florida Court Explains What Constitutes a Material Probation Violation

In some instances, a defendant convicted of a criminal offense will be sentenced to probation rather than imprisonment. Although people on probation have significantly more freedoms than those who are imprisoned, their liberties are not boundless. Specifically, they must comply with the restrictions imposed by their probation orders. If they violate the rules of probation, they may face additional penalties, but not all violations are significant enough for probation to be revoked. Recently, a Florida court addressed what constitutes a violation significant enough to lead to the revocation of probation. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is critical to meet with a seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorney to assess your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Probation and Alleged Violation

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of several drug crimes. Following his conviction, he was sentenced to probation. One of the conditions of the defendant’s probation was that he had a curfew that dictated that he had to be home between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. One evening, the defendant’s girlfriend came home from work, after which they traveled to the store. They left the house at 11:15 pm and were stopped by a police officer at 1:40 am. The defendant’s probation was then revoked due to the violation of his curfew. The defendant appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the revocation.

Material Probation Violations Under Florida Law

On appeal, the defendant argued that his violation was not substantial. The appellate court disagreed, noting that the defendant’s absence was extended and there was no emergency. The court also noted that under Florida law, an absence from home without permission is considered a willful and substantial violation of probation.

The defendant also argued that the trial court did not expressly find that he committed a willful and substantial revocation. The appellate court disagreed, stating that that the trial court found that the defendant’s violation was willful. Further, the appellate court noted that the trial court found that the defendant’s violation was material. Thus, the appellate court ruled that a trial court’s statement that a probation violation was material was the same as a statement that a violation was substantial.

The court explained that according to accepted dictionaries, material meant having true importance or a significant consequence, while substantial was similarly defined as important or true. As the definitions were largely similar, they were essentially interchangeable. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court made the findings necessary to revoke the defendant’s probation and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Skillful Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Probation allows people convicted of crimes to lead relatively normal lives, but if they violate the terms of their probation, it may be revoked. If you are accused of a probation violation you should speak to a lawyer to discuss your options. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skillful probation violation attorney who can assess the facts of your case and advise you of what defenses you may be able to set forth. Mr. Hanlon can be reached via the form online or by calling 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.

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