Misdemeanor Probation Services
Our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that the State of Florida allows for some variation in the types of sentences handed down to those who have been committed of misdemeanors; in particular, the State Statutes allow for those who have been convicted of a drug crime (possessing a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia) to serve a probation term under the supervision of a licensed substance abuse program. We know that this type of allowance is critical, as it actually allows for a period or probation to be rehabilitative, reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
According to Florida State Statute 948.15, a defendant found guilty of a misdemeanor who is placed on probation shall be under supervision not to exceed 6 months unless otherwise specified by the court. Additionally, as we noted above, probation supervision services for a defendant found guilty of a misdemeanor for possession of a controlled substance (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.) or drug paraphernalia under chapter 893 may be provided by a licensed substance abuse education and intervention program, which may provide substance abuse education and intervention as well as any other terms and conditions of probation. (In relation to any offense other than a felony in which the use of alcohol is a significant factor, the period of probation may be up to 1 year.)
As our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know, s. 948.15 holds that a private entity or public entity – including a licensed substance abuse education and intervention program under the supervision of the board of county commissioners or the court – may provide probation services and licensed substance abuse education and treatment intervention programs for offenders sentenced by the county court.
Further, any entity providing services for the supervision of misdemeanor probationers must contract with the county in which the services are to be rendered. In a county having a population of fewer than 70,000, the county court judge (or the administrative judge of the county court in a county that has more than one county court judge) must approve the contract. Terms of the contract must state, but are not limited to:
- the extent of the services to be rendered by the entity providing supervision or rehabilitation;
- staff qualifications and criminal record checks of staff in accordance with essential standards established by the American Correctional Association as of January 1, 1991.
- staffing levels;
- the number of face-to-face contacts with the offender;
- procedures for handling the collection of all offender fees and restitution;
- procedures for handling indigent offenders which ensure placement irrespective of ability to pay;
- circumstances under which revocation of an offender’s probation may be recommended;
- reporting and recordkeeping requirements;
- default and contract termination procedures;
- procedures that aid offenders with job assistance; and
- procedures for accessing criminal history records of probationers.
The State Statute goes on to stipulate more requirements that must be met by entities providing licensed substance abuse counseling services while providing probation supervisory services as described above. If you have any questions about this or any other Florida State Statute, or if you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you!