If you have been convicted of a Florida crime, you may face multiple penalties. Some of these penalties may be a jail or prison sentence, but criminal offenders often only have to serve probation instead. But what exactly is probation? And what can you do to protect your rights if you commit probation violation?
In the guide below, we discuss everything there is to know about probation in the Sunshine State, from terms and conditions to defense strategies.
Table of Contents:
What is Probation in Florida?
Probation is an alternative to a jail or prison sentence. Probation allows for an offender to serve their sentence in the community as opposed to being confined in jail. It is important to be aware of what your terms of probation are because if they are violated, you can be arrested even if you were unaware you were in direct violation of probation.
Hiring an experienced probation violation attorney in South Florida can help you understand your rights while on probation and help keep you out of jail.
For example, in the Russel v. State case, in 2002 the defendant pled guilty to one count of carrying a concealed firearm and was placed on two years’ probation. Russel v. State, 982 So. 2d 642, 643 (2008). Following this charge, in 2003 the defendant pled guilty to an additional charge of sexual battery upon a minor under the age of sixteen and was sentenced to 365 days in the county jail, followed by five years of sex offender probation. Id. Then, in October of 2004 a notice of violation of probation was found when the defendant failed to submit his monthly reports, do the required community service hours, and make payments towards fines for his charges. Id. After this, the defendant’s girlfriend called the police because she alleged to be battered by him, which was an additional violation of probation. Id.
The issue, in this case, was whether the testimony of the girlfriend about the battery was admissible to use against the defendant in his violation of probation case. Id. at 645. Verbal evidence is referred to as hearsay. The Supreme Court of Florida held that hearsay evidence is admissible in a probation revocation hearing to prove a violation of probation, and this hearsay needs to be supported by non-hearsay evidence. Id. Examples of non-hearsay evidence are tangible evidence such as photos and videos.
At the end of this case, The Supreme Court of Florida determined that the defendant committed a battery and violated his probation. Id. at 647. This is because (1) the girlfriend called the police after she was allegedly battered by the defendant and gave testimony and (2) the defendant knowingly did not submit his monthly reports, do his community service hours, or pay his court fines on time.
- Is the hearsay element, the testimony about the battery, and;
- Is the non-hearsay evidence, the pre-existing probation violation being tied together with the hearsay evidence
These two instances paired together reach the elements provided by the court for a violation of probation and revocation of probation.
Terms and Conditions of Probation in Florida
Under Florida Statutes Section 948.03, some terms and conditions of probation may include but are not limited to:
- Reporting to assigned probation supervisor
- Do not possess, own, or carry firearms
- Do not use controlled substances unless prescribed by a medical doctor
- Do not associate with other criminals
- Remain employed, or seeking employment
- Stay within your designated area among county or state limits ordered by the judge
- Do not break any laws
Probation should never be taken for granted, and it is important to remember that probation is a privilege ordered by a judge and not a right.
What is the Difference Between Probation and Parole?
We get this question often, and it really has to do with the timing. In the video below, Palm Beach Gardens probation violation lawyer Matthew Konecky discusses the differences.
What are the Levels of Probation?
In the state of Florida, there are multiple levels of probation. Some of the most common levels include:
Administrative Probation (Non-reporting)
Administrative probation in Florida means "no contact." Typically, offenders who are assigned administrative probation in Florida are deemed to be a low risk to the community. In many cases of probation, violators will be assigned administrative probation if half of their first term of probation is satisfactory.
Sex Offender Probation
Sex offender probation in Florida is a form of intensive supervision where an individual may be required to wear a form of electronic monitoring. To be eligible for sex offender probation, a risk assessment must be performed by a qualified practitioner to deem the level of risk that may be associated with the individual if they are on probation.
Drug Offender Probation
Drug offender probation in Florida is a form of intensive supervision that emphasizes treatment for drug offenders throughout probation. Drug offenders will often be provided with individualized treatment plans which are administered by officers with restricted caseloads. These treatment plans must always be followed to stay within the terms and conditions of probation.
Community Control Probation (House Arrest)
Community control probation is one of the most restrictive forms of probation in Florida. Community control, also known as house arrest, means the individual must be in supervised custody at all times including surveillance on weekends and holidays. When ordered to house arrest, an offender is restricted to stay within a community, home, or non-institutional residential placement.
What Happens If I Violate My Probation in Palm Beach Gardens?
If you are found to be in violation of probation in Palm Beach Gardens, an affidavit will be prepared by your probation officer and a warrant for your arrest will be later issued. Typically, if you are arrested for violation of probation, you may be held without bond until your court date. A probation violation in Palm Beach Gardens may incur the maximum consequences of the charge that put you on probation initially.
A violation hearing will be issued if you miss a probation appointment without notifying your probation officer ahead of time. In Palm Beach Gardens, you are always entitled to be represented by a probation lawyer at your court hearing. You should never represent yourself in court alone. At your violation hearing, the judge will consider factors such as your reason for missing the appointment, your previous record while on probation, and your probation officer's professional opinion.
Probation Violation Attorney in Palm Beach Gardens
If you or a loved one has been arrested for violating their terms of probation in Palm Beach or Broward County, The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky can help. Our experienced criminal defense attorney can help argue if the terms violated were not the purpose of the violation or that you may have been the victim of law enforcement misconduct such as an unlawful search and seizure.
To protect your rights after violation of probation in Palm Beach Gardens, click the button above to contact us or call (561) 671-5995 so we can review your case immediately.