Violations of Probation
Probation may seem preferable to a jail or prison sentence, but a violation of probation can put you back to square one - or worse.
Consequences Of ViolationProbation requires strict compliance with probationary terms and conditions, which may be inconvenient and expensive. The slightest mistake may have an individual facing significant time behind bars.
Possible consequences may include:
Facing up to the maximum penalties available for the original offense(s)
Increased minimum penalties on felonies due to added points on scoresheet
Conviction where there previously was a withhold of adjudication
Collateral consequences may include: license suspension, immigration consequences, voting or gun rights issues, professional licensing issues
Additional penalties under the Anti Murder Statute for violent offenders
More About Florida's Anti-Murder Statute
Challenging Your ViolationWhen you are on probation, your rights are severely limited. As a result, an individual wishing to contest his/her violation of probation does not have the right to a jury trial, and the State does not have to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. Although you are entitled to a hearing, that hearing is in front of a judge, not jury, who will determine whether you violated probation and, if so, will sentence you accordingly.
At a violation of probation hearing, the rules of evidence are relaxed, which often allows the State to enter evidence that may be inadmissible in a jury trial. Also, because your Constitutional rights are more limited during a VOP hearing, you can be compelled to testify for the prosecution about matters related to alleged technical violations.
Types of ViolationsThere are two main categories of violations in a VOP case:
Technical violations - violation of a specific term of probation
Examples May Include:
"Failed" drug test
Failure to complete community service, classes, treatment, or some other special condition of probation
Failure to report to probation officer as required
New law violations - individual is arrested for a new offense, or otherwise accused of committing some new, separate crime
The categorization will affect the sentencing guidelines on the scoresheet (new offenses carry more points than a technical violation). However, a violation of either kind does not have to end with a jail or prison sentence. Depending on the type of case and violation, a court may reinstate probation, modify probation to include additional terms, or place an individual on a stricter form of supervision (i.e. from probation to community control).