Can A Traffic Infraction Violate My Probation?
November 30, 2021 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
Short answer: It depends. As explained in more detail below, this distinction rests on whether the traffic offense is classified as civil or criminal. For most civil traffic offenses, your probation will not be considered violated (unless a specific provision within your terms of probation exists that classifies this as a violation). However, for criminal traffic offenses, your probation will likely be considered violated.
What is Probation?
Probation is codified in Florida Statute Chapter 398, which defines probation as a type of community control or supervision that imposes restrictions and conditions on an offender’s probation so that they can avoid serving time in jail or prison. Probation can be a godsend to criminal defendants who want to avoid spending time away from their loved ones while incarcerated. But probation should not be regarded insignificantly, as a probation violation can result in severe penalties to the offender.
How Does Someone Violate Probation?
In order to violate terms of probation, the offender’s conduct must constitute a willful and substantial failure to comply with the explicit terms of the probationary sentence. The court evaluates whether the conduct constitutes a willful and substantial failure based on the facts of the case. Furthermore, the prosecution must prove that the violation of willful and substantial by “the greater weight of evidence.”
The Second District Court of Appeal has stated that “[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.”
How Does a Speeding Ticket Affect My Probation Status?
Traffic tickets present an interesting dilemma in terms of probation. On one hand, a term of probation is usually to obey all federal, state, and municipal laws. On the other hand, a traffic offense is not necessarily a crime as envisioned under the terms of probation since it is classified as a civil offense (generally).
If you get a traffic ticket while on probation, do not panic. First, ensure that you truthfully disclose this to your probation officer during your monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, or regularly scheduled visits. During these visits, the offender usually has to fill in a questionnaire that asks if the offender has had any interactions with the police. Make sure to truthfully disclose the ticket during this time. Because most traffic offenses are classified as civil offenses, they will not be considered a violation of probation. Although most traffic offenses will not constitute a violation, lying to a probation officer is. You could violate the terms of probation for failure to disclose the truth.
While a regular traffic offense will generally be classified as a civil offense, serious traffic offenses can be classified as criminal. If you are arrested for a criminal traffic offense, you will likely have violated the terms of your probationary sentence and will likely face jail time for the original underlying conviction and will have to go before the court on account of the new charges against you. Here is a non-exhaustive list of common criminal traffic offenses:
Florida Traffic Offense Resources
Here you can find helpful information regarding your driver’s license, vehicle registration, driving record, and other resources like information regarding traffic school, identification requirements, and how to fight a traffic ticket.
Here you can find useful materials regarding Florida Highway Patrol’s roles and responsibilities in protecting the public and promoting traffic safety. There are useful forms available on this site that can help you gain information about potential traffic charges.
Here you can find tips regarding criminal safety, information on criminal records, and information regarding the various departments and divisions within TPD.
Traffic Offense Violation of Probation Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal traffic offense while on probation, it is imperative that you retain an experienced and knowledgeable Tallahassee traffic offense violation of probation attorney. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience defending probationers against violation charges. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message for a free consultation with an attorney in our team.
Written by Gabi D’Esposito