Written by attorney Jonathan Hackworth

What is a Violent Felon of Special Concern?

Florida’s “Anti-Murder Act" created the designation of “violent felony of special concern" or VFOSC. Ultimately, a VFOSC constitutes a person who is on felony probation or community control for a qualifying substantive offense, generally involving violence or a threat of violence.

This designation primarily concerns one’s ability to get bond for a violation of probation for anything other failure to pay fines, restitution or cost of supervision. The court is barred from releasing the accused with bail pending the resolution of the probation or community control violation. Ultimately, a VFOSC cannot be given bond or bail until the VOP or VOCC is resolved.

Even more specifically, if the probationer is charged with certain enumerated offenses under the Statute, generally regarding sex offenses, a court is required to conduct even further hearings prior to the release of the individual. Prior to the court granting a bail or bond to someone charged with violation of probation, “the court is required to conduct a ‘dangerousness’ hearing and has the discretion to release such an offender ‘with or without bail to await further hearing,’ such an offender who is also a VFOSC or is VFOSC-qualified cannot be released or be granted bail under any circumstances."

Additionally, the Act requires the court conduct a recorded hearing to consider the following factors, once the court had determined the VFOSC has committed a substantive probation violation:

  1. Make written findings as to whether or not the violent felony offender of special concern poses a danger to the community. In determining the danger to the community posed by the offender’s release, the court must base its findings on one or more of the following:

a. The nature and circumstances of the violation and any new offenses charged.

b. The offender’s present conduct, including criminal convictions.

c. The offender’s amenability to nonincarcerative sanctions based on his or her history and conduct during the probation or community control supervision from which the violation hearing arises and any other previous supervisions, including disciplinary records of previous incarcerations.

d. The weight of the evidence against the offender.

e. Any other facts the court considers relevant.

  1. Decide whether to revoke the probation or community control.

“If the court has found that a VFOSC concern poses a danger to the community, the court must revoke probation and ‘shall’ sentence the offender up to the statutory maximum, or longer if permitted by law. If the court has found that a VFOSC does not pose a danger to the community, the court may revoke, modify, or continue the probation or community control or may place the probationer into community control."

Ultimately, the VFOSC status makes it incredibly difficult for individuals to receive a bond pending a felony violation of probation and significantly increases sentences once a violation of probation has been proven. If you or someone you know has been designated a VFOSC, contact the criminal defense attorneys of Blumenauer Hackworth for a free case consultation. We look forward to working with you.

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