For many who are charged with a criminal offense in Florida, a grant of probation by a presiding Judge can represent an invaluable opportunity to avoid a conviction and/or a term of incarceration which might otherwise cause permanent hardship and disruption to one’s lifestyle or livelihood. En Español.
However, it is important to remember that probation is not a right, but a privilege subject to conditions which are often quite strict.
If you have been accused of violating your terms of probation (VOP) or are facing another issue related to community supervision, a West Palm Beach probation lawyer stands ready to help. Contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your case.
Florida Probation Basics
As those who have had encounters with the Criminal Justice system will attest, probationary supervision provides a provisional alternative to jail or prison time, criminal conviction as well as a chance to meet rehabilitation objectives the community views as especially important.
Offenders should take note of the fact that probation is far from a free pass, as it will almost certainly come with a series of conditions attached which, if violated, can result in revocation of the privilege and immediate incarceration. As outlined in Fla. Stat. §948.03, common probation conditions in Florida include:
- Routine reporting to probation supervisors as specifically directed
- Maintaining suitable and consistent employment
- Allowing home or workplace visits by probation supervisors
- Remaining within a defined geographic area
- Paying restitution to victims of the underlying offense
- Having no new contact with law enforcement during supervision period
- Payment of all fees owed to detention facilities
- Supporting all legal dependents
- Remaining sober at all times
- Submission to random drug and alcohol testing
- Not associating with known criminals
- Observing prohibitions on carrying firearms
Probation Violation and Subsequent Processes
Given the potentially voluminous terms and conditions applicable to an individual’s community supervision status, it should come as no surprise that some violations are committed without actual awareness on the part of the probationer. Unfortunately, a formal violation can have extremely severe consequences including complete revocation of the privilege, rendering of a guilty adjudication (conviction) on the underlying offense and imposition of the maximum term of incarceration available for the crime at issue.
If a probation officer or other law enforcement authority believes that the terms of supervision have been violated, the probationer can be immediately arrested and returned to the Court of original jurisdiction, where a hearing will be held on the concerns raised. Defendants are routinely held without bond until such a proceeding occurs, making the matter that much more urgent for the families involved.
Because there is often a great deal at stake in a Violation of Probation (VOP) case and Final Hearing, the assistance of dedicated legal counsel is essential to obtaining the best possible result.
Generally speaking, the Judge in such a hearing will either revoke and end probation entirely and send the defendant to Jail or State Prison, find that a violation has occurred and extend the term of supervision and/or increase the special conditions attached, or, it is possible that the court will dismiss the allegations altogether and preserve the status quo by reinstating the original Probationary sentence
Obtaining Early Termination of Probation
In addition to navigating the treacherous waters of a Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing, a skilled Florida defense attorney can also help individuals secure their right to early termination of probation under the terms articulated by Fla. Stat. §948.04.
This provision offers probationers who have served at least 50 percent of their term the opportunity to show that all conditions of supervision have been satisfied, all financial sanctions have been met and no violations have occurred in an effort to secure termination of all restrictions prior to the scheduled end date.
Talk to a Probation Attorney Today
Having a grant of probation revoked can transform what may have been a regrettable, yet salvageable situation into a circumstance capable of harming your entire family for years to come. Being released early from Probation can reward the individual who has followed and complied with all terms of their Probation and minimize the risk of getting a Violation of Probation (VOP) charge
Therefore, if you are accused of violating the terms of community supervision, or wish to terminate your Probation before the scheduled completion date, the advocacy of a West Palm Beach probation lawyer is something you simply cannot afford to be without.