Will I Violate My Probation If I Get a Speeding Ticket?
Probation is tricky. Probationers have to be extremely careful not to violate any terms or conditions of their release. What happens to the status of your probation when you receive a speeding ticket? Find out with our latest article written by senior law clerk, Gabi!
IntroductionEssentially, the answer is a lawyer’s favorite phrase: “It depends.” If the speeding ticket is merely a civil infraction without any criminal punishments attached, it will not likely violate the terms of your probation. However, if it is a criminal traffic offense related to speeding, your probation will likely be considered violated.
What is Probation?In Florida, probation is treated as a privilege, not a right, and is regarded as a “grace of the state” imposed “in lieu of a sentence, with its principal function being the rehabilitation of a defendant and the protection of society.”
According to Florida Statute Section 948.011, “[w]hen the law authorizes the placing of a defendant on probation, and when the defendant’s offense is punishable by both fine and imprisonment, the trial court may, in its discretion, impose a fine upon him or her and place him or her on probation or into community control as an alternative to imprisonment.”
Probation is an alternative to jail time and a great way for criminal defendants to pay back their debt to the community and receive proper punishment without stripping them away from their families and livelihoods.
What Are the Different Types of Probation?There are different methods of probation depending on the nature of the underlying offense that the criminal defendant committed. Some examples include:
Under standard probation, offenders have to regularly report to their probation officer and comply with all terms of their probation.
Drug Offender Probation
Under drug offender probation, offenders might have to submit to random drug tests and attend substance abuse programs.
Sex Offender Probation
Under sex offender probation, offenders might have to submit to supervision by a probation officer while they attend sexual offender treatment programs.
This is a well-known manner of probation wherein the offender has constant surveillance and is severely limited in where they can go. An electronic monitor or probation officer will track where the offender is at all or various times each day.
How Does Someone Violate Probation?Probation is considered violated when the conditions imposed by the trial court during the probation hearing are violated in a willful and substantial manner.
According to the Second District Court of Appeal decision, Wharton v. State, “[p]robation can be revoked upon a finding that a violation is willful and substantial. On review of an order of revocation of probation, the appellate court first examines whether competent substantial evidence supports the trial court’s finding of a willful and substantial violation.”
What constitutes a ‘willful and substantial violation’? According to another Second District Court of Appeal decision, Soto v. State, “[a] defendant’s failure to comply with a probation condition is not willful where his conduct shows a reasonable, good faith attempt to comply, and factors beyond his control, rather than a deliberate act of misconduct, caused his noncompliance.”
Will a Speeding Ticket Be Considered a Violation?Unless specifically identified as a term of probation, a speeding ticket that results in a civil infraction will likely not be considered a violation of probation. However, any run-in with a police officer should be truthfully reported to your probation officer during your regularly scheduled visits, as probation officers generally require that offenders disclose any encounters with police officers to them. Since traffic citations are usually classified as civil violations, they will likely not result in your probation being violated. However, some instances of speeding can result in criminal traffic violations, like:
Habitual Traffic Offenses
Racing on a Highway
If you are charged with one of these, they will likely violate the terms of your probation since they are criminal offenses, and a general term of probation is to comply with local, state, and federal law.
What Happens When Probation is Violated?When terms of probation are considered violated, the offender’s probation officer will have to submit an Affidavit of Violation to the Court, and in the case of a felony offense, a Department of Corrections Violation Report. In these documents, the probation officer will detail why they have a reasonable belief that the offender committed the specified violation. Once the court gets the affidavit, they will review the factual allegations and conclude whether there existed reasonable grounds on the part of the probation officer to believe a violation occurred. If such grounds are determined to exist, the court will issue a capias for the offender’s arrest. Then, the offender will be arraigned and set for a hearing where the prosecution must prove that the violation of probation was willful and substantial by competent evidence.
Traffic Offense Probation Violation AttorneyIf you or a loved one is on probation and were charged with a criminal traffic offense, it is incredibly important to retain the help of a qualified and knowledgeable traffic offense violation of probation attorney.
This article was written by Gabi D’Esposito.