Many people who are convicted of crimes are sentenced to probation, either after or instead of prison sentences. While probation offers substantially more freedom than imprisonment, defendants sentenced to probation typically must comply with numerous conditions. People that fail to do so and violate the terms of their probation may face significant consequences. Thus, it is critical for parties sentenced to probation to understand what constitutes a violation and what may occur if they violate the conditions of their probation. If you were charged with a crime or are currently accused of violating your probation, it is smart to meet with a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.
Violations of Probation Under Florida Law
Probation is a type of community supervision in which a person convicted of a crime must comply with specific conditions and terms instead of being sent to prison. If a person violates a term of his or her probation, it may result in significant penalties, up to revocation of probation.
A violation of probation happens when a person substantially and willfully fails to comply with the conditions and terms of his or her probation. Whether a violation is both substantial and willful is assessed based on the facts of each case. The State bears the burden of proving a violation occurred, but it faces a lesser burden than in other criminal matters. Specifically, the State merely has to prove a violation occurred by the greater weight of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Probation violations are broken into two categories in Florida: technical and substantive. Technical violations happen when a person violates general or specific conditions of his or her probation. Generally, this includes things like failing drug tests, missing appointments related to probation, failing to pay fines or costs, and failing to complete court-ordered programs. Substantive violations, on the other hand, occur when a person who is serving a probationary sentence commits a new crime. In order to revoke probation based on a new crime, the State typically must provide direct evidence, that is not hearsay, that the defendant was involved in criminal activity.
Ramifications of Probation Violations
A person that violates a condition of probation will most likely be arrested. Once the person is taken into custody, the court will schedule a hearing to review the facts of the case. In many cases, the court will require the person to remain in jail until bond is requested. The court will then conduct a hearing in which the State will present its evidence that the conditions of probation were violated. If the court finds that a violation occurred and that it was substantial and willful, it will impose a penalty it deems fit.
Speak to a Trusted Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney
People who are sentenced to probation are often able to live relatively normal lives, but if they violate a condition of their probation, it may be revoked. If you are accused of a violation of probation, you should speak to an attorney to assess your potential defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a trusted probation violation defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome possible in your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.