Florida Statutes Chapter 948 refers to probation as a type of community supervision that enforces strict terms and conditions on a convicted offender in lieu of jail time.
In clearer terms – when the court places a defendant on probation, although they are free from confinement, they remain under court supervision. This means probation may rightly be considered as a trial or testing period for the accused.
Such criminal defendants must be in their best behavior during this period, adhering strictly to all the rules set by the criminal justice system.
A range of scenarios can incur probation order by the court. For instance, probation may be granted an offender in place of incarceration, when a convict is considered to be of good behavior or at the suspension of sentence.
Mostly, the court may place one on probation if the case is considered minor, and not worth spending state resources for jail time. At such, the court may place the offender on probation where he/she is free, but under strict court supervision, abiding by all the established terms and conditions of probation.
Recommended: Felony Probation Rules – Terms and Conditions
While it may strike out one’s jail time, probationary sentences should not be handled with kid gloves. Violation of your probation conditions may attract severe consequences on offenders, which may lead to probation revocation in the end.
Are you guilty of a probation violation already? We highly recommend you get in touch with an experienced local VOP attorney immediately.
Types of Probation in Florida
In Florida, probation is divided into two forms:
- Misdemeanor probation
- Felony probation
A key difference between these types is the duration. Typically, felony probation are longer. They last anywhere between three to five years – unlike misdemeanor probation that takes a shorter period – say, one to three years.
Read Also: Difference Between Probation and Parole
It is, however, legal to request a time reduction after completion of about half of the overall probation length. The time reduction request may only be granted by the court if the offender has kept to all the conditions of probation, without records of a violation.
Another dissimilarity between a felony and misdemeanor probation is the frequency of meetings with probation officers. While those with misdemeanor probation – since their offenses are considered minor – may get sparsely scheduled meetings with their officers, it is usually more regular for felony cases.
Also, probation may be unsupervised. Although they may not have to make regular reporting to anyone, probationers must, however, keep to the probation conditions.
Probation may also be imposed by wearing monitoring devices and house arrest. Where the crimes involve alcohol or drugs, counseling or rehabilitation is often considered.
Conditions of Probation
Although the court gives customized terms and conditions to defendants on probation – based on individual considerations, here are a summary of standard probation conditions as spelled out under Section 948.03 of Florida Statutes:
- Report to probation officers, based on the court directive
- Expect unscheduled visits – to probationers’ workplace, residence or other related places – from probation officers
- Compliance to all laws
- Remain gainfully employed
- Offer monetary assistance to dependants
- Must not carry, possess, or own firearms
- Have no contact with known criminals
- Make restitution as directed by the court
- Maintain a residence, except, otherwise permitted by the court
- Comply with random request to tender alcohol and/or drug testing
- May not possess or use any state-controlled substances, except on doctor/s prescription.
Generally, defendants prefer probation to being locked behind bars, for logical reasons, of course.
Probationers, however, must not commonize probation, but, rather, abide to its terms and conditions or face the consequences from their probation officers and court.
Although probation is at different levels – including administrative/non-reporting, sex offender, reporting, community control/house arrest, or drug offender – their terms and conditions must not be flaunted.
Consequences of a Probation Violation
If you are caught violating any of the stated probation conditions, your probation officer may soon begin an arrest procedure. For low-level offenses like a misdemeanor, your supervisor will submit an Affidavit of Violation while for felony crimes, a Department of Corrections Violation Report.
Either documentation acts as a sworn statement detailing reasons the officer believes you are guilty of the probation violations.
After the issuance of an arrest warrant, you will be confined, pending a hearing to review your supervisor’s accusations against you.
During the period before hearing, you will likely be kept on a “no bond” status where you remain confined pending request of bond on your behalf.
Note, however, that a Violation of Probation hearing is entirely different from the conventional court hearing. First, the state can easily prove a case in probation violation hearing, then in a typical proceeding.
Besides that you may be compelled to testify against yourself in a violation of probation hearing, you may not be entitled to a bond (pre-trial release) as you await your violation hearing.
It is vital to understand the limitation of your rights during a probation violation proceeding – unlike a conventional criminal hearing.
However, to guide against disregarding your rights during a probation violation hearing, we recommend you consult a seasoned probation violation lawyer in Florida to guide you.
Consequences of Violation of parole
Where the court finds you guilty of the accusations against you by your supervisor, according to section 948.06, the judge may:
- Order continuation of probation
- Modify your probation conditions
- Order probation revocation and impose prison time
After revoking your probation, the judge can increase your sentence to the maximum duration applicable for the crime you were initially charged for.
If, for example, you’ve been on probation for a case of burglary of an unoccupied building, Florida law considers this a second-degree felony punishable by a 15-year sentence in state prison.
If your probation violation was for this charge, the court could pronounce a 15-year imprisonment sentence. Also, this will stand even if your plea bargain sentence was ten years.
Hiring an Attorney
Based on the circumstances, you may need defense for a probation violation charge. It is, therefore, imperative to get a seasoned probation violation attorney handy. You have the right to present an attorney to represent you during your VOP proceedings and related hearings.
See also: What Crimes Usually Get Probation?