In Florida and elsewhere, probation is an alternative to prison time in which a person convicted of a crime is able to remain free, so long as he or she complies with certain terms and conditions. This is an attractive option for anyone charged with a crime in Florida because it allows the person in question to avoid prison time, continue working, and remain with your loved ones. As a recent case out of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal makes clear, however, a person who has violated the terms of his or her probation is liable to face some serious consequences.
A defendant in 2010 pled no contest to dealing in stolen property, a second degree felony, and grand theft, a third degree felony. He also pled no contest to dealing in stolen property in a second case. A trial judge withheld sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve three years of probation. One year later, however, Defendant pled no contest to various drug crimes, including cocaine possession. He also admitted to violating the terms of his probation. Defendant later violated the terms of his probation again by failing to undergo drug and alcohol treatment.
In 2015, Defendant entered into an agreement with Florida state prosecutors after once again violating the terms of his probation. He agreed that any new criminal offenses, including for traffic infractions, would violate the terms of his probation. Defendant was eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison on the three 2010 charges after being busted for driving on a suspended license.
Reversing part of the decision on appeal, the Fourth District said Defendant should have been credited with the time he served on probation before he was sentenced to prison.
“The time a probationer serves on probation is counted as ‘time served’ when calculating how much time remains to be served on a statutory maximum sentence,” the court explained. “A trial court lacks jurisdiction to revoke probation and resentence a probationer where he has already served the maximum sentence for that crime.”
Defendant had already completed about five years of probation at the time, the court said. Because that was the maximum possible sentence for one of the three 2010 offenses in Florida, the court concluded that Defendant couldn’t be given prison time for failing to comply with the terms of his probation on that offense.
Nevertheless, the court said Defendant could be sent to prison for 15 years for violating the probation terms related to the other two 2010 offenses.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in the state of Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. Tampa criminal defense lawyer Will Hanlon is a seasoned attorney who fights aggressively on behalf of clients who are accused of committing a wide range of offenses. Call our offices at (813) 228-7095 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.