Probation Violations

The handling of a probation violation is vastly different than the handing of other criminal offenses in four important areas: (1) bond/pre-trial release, (2) the rules of evidence, (3) the type of trial one may have and (4) the standard of proof required for a conviction.

How does a probation violation occur?
Before an arrest for a probation violation occurs, a probation officer files an Affidavit of Violation with the Clerk of Court that alleges the grounds for the probation violation. A probation violation can be for what is usually referred to as a “technical violation,” such as missing a probation appointment or for testing positive on a drug test. A probation violation can also be alleged for what is commonly referred to as a “substantive violation” such as an arrest on new criminal charges. A citation for a traffic infraction will not result in a probation violation.

Mark Solomon, Criminal Defense Lawyer

Attorney Mark Solomon

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After a probation officer files the Affidavit of Violation, a judge will review the Affidavit of Violation and determine whether to issue an arrest warrant for the probation violation and whether a bond should be set on the warrant. With few exceptions, most arrest warrants for probation violations do not provide for pre-trial release on bond.

What if I, or someone else I know, is arrested for a probation violation?

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.130 requires every person who has been arrested, even on a probation violation, to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest for a first appearance bond determination. However, generally, the first appearance judge will defer to the judge who issued the warrant for the probation violation on the matter of bond. While a person accused of a probation violation is not legally entitled to bond as a matter of right, Florida Statute § 948.06 does give judges the authority to set bond in probation violation cases.

Am I entitled to a trial on a probation violation?
After an arrest for a probation violation, Florida law requires the judge to hold a hearing, essentially a trial, as soon as practicable following the arrest on the probation violation. At that hearing, the State has the burden of proving the probation violation. The State is required to prove that the alleged violation was both willful and substantial. Unlike other criminal charges, a probation violation does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The State must prove the violation by “the greater weight of the evidence”, which means the judge has to find that the person on probation more likely than not violated a condition of their probation. A person accused of a probation violation is not entitled to a jury trial. The rules of evidence are also more relaxed at a probation violation trial.

What should I do if I anticipate that my probation might be violated?
If you suspect that your probation officer is preparing to violate your probation contact Mark Solomon immediately. Taking a proactive approach to a potential probation violation is imperative and may reduce the amount of time that you spend in jail waiting for a bond hearing.

The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Probation Violation Lawyer
Violating your probation terms is a serious legal matter that can come with severe consequences, including imprisonment. If you have been charged with violating your probation, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record on your side.

After you have been accused of violating probation in Florida, your main goal should be to reinstate the original probation order. In a best-case scenario, the judge will simply reinstate your previous probation order. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the court and ask them to modify your original probation order minimally. Working with an experienced probation violation lawyer who will give your case the attention it deserves will increase your chances of having a successful outcome.

Criminal defense lawyer Mark Solomon, P.A, believes that everyone in Florida is entitled to a quality legal representation. He has handled hundreds of criminal jury trials and probation violation matters over the years. Contact him today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how he can represent your interests in your probation violation case.

Types of Probation in Florida
There are several different categories of probation outlined in Florida statutory laws, including:

  • Administrative probation: Administrative probation is a type of supervision that does not require reporting or contact. Courts will award administrative probation to offenders who do not pose a significantly dangerous threat to the community. Typically, after completing half of the probation, the offender will be taken to the Department of Corrections to engage in a milder, administrative probation.
  • Community control: Community control is a form of controlled, rigorous custody within a community. Community control includes legal supervision, even on weekends and holidays that administrative officers review. When courts impose community control probation, the offender has likely been isolated to a community or residential space that operates under sanctions and maintains strict guidelines.
  • Drug offender probation: Similarly, drug offender probation is a type of rigorous supervision in which drug offenders are treated based on their rehabilitation plans. Administrative officers who manage no more than 50 cases put together those rehabilitation plans.
  • Mental health probation: In mental health probation, the probationer will receive mental health treatment under a customized mental health plan. The treatment plan should be tailored to the probationer’s specific mental health problems. In some cases, probationers receive psychotropic drugs prescribed by a doctor as needed.
  • Sex offender probation: Sex offender probation refers to any type of supervision that includes electronic monitoring and requires the conditioning and treatment of registered sex offenders. As specified by Florida law, probationers must follow their treatment plans and take part in polygraph testing and close monitoring.

Probation Requirements in Florida
During probation, the offender must meet certain requirements. The terms of probation are different for every defendant. Courts consider the type of criminal charges involved and your background when deciding the terms of your probation. In some cases, the offender must remain in a particular area, typically within the state of Florida. The offender must remain employed, meet regularly with a probation officer, obey Florida laws, and attempt to make restitution for any loss caused by his or her alleged crime.

Those on probation must also support any legal dependents, such as minor children, and consent to engaging in random alcohol and drug tests. Judges can also impose a curfew on people who are on probation and require them to complete a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program. In DUI cases or cases involving drug charges, the court may require the probationer to remain sober during probation. Depending on the probationer’s career, the court may impose certain professional limitations or requirements. For example, if someone is on probation due to sex-based offenses, the court may prohibit them from working with children or vulnerable adults.

What Happens if You Violated Your Probation by Mistake?
In some cases, judges impose significant probation restrictions. It can be challenging to remember all the different restrictions and abide by them. The various probation requirements make it common for people to unintentionally violate the terms of their probation. Many of our clients genuinely did not even realize they violated their probation, and now they face additional jail time.

When people on probation have not been appropriately informed about their probation terms, they are at risk of violating their probation and suffering serious consequences. In other cases,  people who did not even violate their probation terms are charged with probation violations.
An experienced probation violation lawyer will be able to review your case and determine whether your probation violation charges are correct. Without assertive legal representation, you could face additional jail time for a violation you did not even commit. Attorney Mark Solomon will hold the Florida correctional system accountable and ensure your rights are protected.

Violation of Probation After Committing a Felony
The court takes probation violations more seriously when the probationer has been convicted of a felony. When felony offenders are arrested after violating their probation or community control program’s established terms, they will automatically be required to stand before the court. The court cannot dismiss warrants in these cases. If you have been charged with a felony and now you are facing probation violation charges, it is crucial that you contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.