Anyone who is convicted of a crime in the state of Florida can face a number of different penalties. Some criminal offenders are sentenced to jail or prison, however many are given the opportunity to serve probation instead.
Probation is viewed as an alternative to a jail to prison sentence. It allows the offender to serve their sentence in the community rather than in a jail or prison. If you are sentenced to probation, it’s important to work with a Tampa criminal defense attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities as a probationer. In addition, it’s also crucial that you understand what happens if you fail to fulfill your legal responsibilities as a probationer.
What Are the Terms and Conditions of Probation?
There are certain terms and conditions that you must follow while on probation. The court has the authority to establish these terms and conditions, which is why they can vary on a case-by-case basis.
However, some common terms and conditions that probationers must comply with include:
- Reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis.
- Giving the probation officer permission to visit you at home, school, work, or anywhere else.
- Remaining employed throughout the probationary sentence.
- Staying within the city, county, or other area as ordered by the court.
- Obtaining prior approval before traveling outside of the city, county, or other area as ordered by the court.
- Not engaging in criminal activity or associating with any known criminals.
- Paying restitution if ordered to do so by the court.
- Submitting to random drug and alcohol testing.
- Not carrying or possessing a firearm or any other type of weapon.
Additional terms and conditions may be ordered depending on the nature of your case. For instance, if you are convicted of drug possession, you may be ordered to attend substance abuse counseling as part of your probationary sentence.
What to Expect If You Violate the Terms of Probation
If you are accused of violating the terms and conditions of probation, you may be charged with a violation of probation, or VOP. That’s why if you are sentenced to probation, it’s in your best interest to meet with your criminal defense attorney right away to review the terms and conditions of your sentence. It’s crucial that you understand what terms and conditions you must comply with in order to avoid serious legal penalties.
Your probation officer is typically the person who will report your violation of probation. If a probation officer suspects a violation has occurred, they will need to prepare and submit an Affidavit of Violation to the court. This legal document must clearly outline the alleged violation and the evidence that the probation officer has against you. A judge will carefully review this legal document to determine whether or not further action is warranted. If the judge believes that a violation could have occurred, they will issue a warrant for your arrest.
If you are arrested for VOP, you will be arraigned and a VOP hearing will be scheduled. A VOP hearing is not the same as a trial. It does not take place in front of a jury, and the state does not need to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, a judge will decide your fate, and the state only has to prove that guilt by a preponderance of evidence, which is a much lower legal standard.
However, similar to a trial, both sides are given an opportunity to present their case to the judge during a VOP hearing. After hearing from both sides, the judge will need to review the evidence presented to determine whether or not a violation occurred. If the judge believes that a violation of probation did occur, they will need to determine whether or not the probationer committed this violation willfully. Then, the judge must decide what penalties to impose on the offender.
What Penalties Will You Face For A Probation Violation?
A willful violation of probation can lead to serious penalties. If you violate your probation, the judge has the authority to revoke your probation and impose any penalty that could have been imposed on you for committing the initial crime.
For instance, say you are on probation as a result of being convicted of a first degree misdemeanor. This type of crime carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail in the state of Florida. So if you violate the terms and conditions of your probationary sentence, the judge could decide to sentence you to up to one year in jail.
Many people who violate the terms and conditions of their probation are sentenced to jail or prison. However, this does not mean that you will definitely be sent to jail or prison if you violate your probation. The judge has the authority to impose other penalties for minor violations of probationary sentences.
For instance, the judge may decide to penalize you for a probation violation by adding more restrictive terms and conditions to your probation. The judge also has the authority to penalize you by extending the length of your probationary sentence.
Sometimes, the judge may choose not to impose any penalties at all on the offender. For example, if the offender has never violated their probation before, shows genuine remorse, and was convicted of a minor, non-violent crime, the judge may choose to simply let them go with a warning.
Let An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Protect Your Rights
Have you been accused of violating the terms and conditions of your probation? If so, seek legal representation from the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. Our attorneys have over 125 years of combined legal experience representing the accused. We are committed to helping our clients reach the best possible outcome in their criminal case. Let us put our extensive experience, resources, and knowledge to work for you.
Contact our law firm now to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.