What Am I Facing for My First Probation Violation?
After a court convicts someone of a crime in Florida, they can face several different penalties. Judges may sentence some criminal offenders to jail or prison, but many serve probation instead. The criminal justice system views probation as an alternative to jail. If a judge sentenced you to probation, it is essential to work with an Orlando criminal defense attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities. Additionally, they can help you understand what happens if you fail to follow all terms and conditions of your probation. Penalties for a probation violation may be harsh, even for a first-time offender.
What Are the Terms and Conditions of My Probation?
There are terms and conditions you must follow while on probation. Courts have the authority to establish these terms, which will vary depending on the crime and prior criminal history. However, some common conditions of probation include:
- Reporting to a probation officer regularly
- Allowing the probation officer to visit your home, school, or work
- Keeping or finding employment during the probation
- Staying within the city or county
- Taking random drug and alcohol tests
- Not carrying or possessing a firearm or any other weapon
A judge may order additional terms depending on the offense. For example, they may order someone convicted of drug possession to attend substance abuse counseling.
What Happens if I Violate Probation in Florida?
If your probation officer accuses you of violating the terms and conditions, you may face violation of probation (VOP) charges. That is why you must meet with an Orlando defense attorney to review the terms to avoid severe legal penalties.
Your probation officer will typically be the one to accuse you of violating probation terms, and they will submit an Affidavit of Violation to court. The document must outline the violation and evidence supporting it. A judge will then review the document. If they believe you broke probation terms, they may issue a warrant for your arrest.
After police arrest you for a VOP, courts will schedule a VOP hearing. These hearings are not the same as a trial. It does not take place in front of a jury, and the state does not have to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, state prosecutors only have to prove your guilt by a preponderance of evidence—a much lower legal standard.
After both sides presented their evidence and arguments, a judge will review the evidence and determine whether you violated your probation terms. If a judge believes a violation occurred, they then decide what penalties the offender should receive.
Penalties for Violation Probation in Florida
Probation is a privilege, not a right. Thus, judges can revoke probation privileges and impose any penalty they could have imposed on you for committing the initial offense. For example, say you are on probation for a first-degree misdemeanor. These crimes carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail in Florida. Therefore, a judge may sentence you to up to one year in jail for a VOP. Conversely, a judge may decide to extend the amount of time you are on probation with more restrictions.
Sometimes, the judge may choose not to impose any penalties. For example, if the offender never violated their probation before, shows genuine remorse, or was convicted of a minor crime, a judge may only issue a warning.
Let an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Protect Your Rights
If you are facing a violation of probation charge, contact The Umansky Law Firm. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience representing the accused. Our probation violation attorneys will defend your rights every step of the way and provide representation in VOP hearings. As former prosecutors, we know how the other side handles these cases, and we can use that knowledge to protect your rights. To schedule a free constitution, call our office or complete our contact form.