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Violation of Probation

Violation of Probation

When sentencing a defendant for a criminal offense, those convicted of a first-time or non-violent offense may be offered probation. Probation is seen as an alternative to the usual sentencing of incarceration.

Many defendants view probation as an excellent alternative to being placed behind bars and is often used to keep track of convicted individuals, offer treatment resources, or restrict the individual to any other terms as determined by the court. However, it is important to address that being placed on probation is a privilege, not a right.

Getting placed on probation also creates the possibility for future legal issues. This is because when a person is placed on probation, they are given a strict set of rules and regulations they must follow. If these conditions are not met, then the “probationer” may be accused of a violation of probation (VOP).

Unfortunately, it is common for those on probation and parole to be accused of violating the terms. A probationer accused of violating the terms of their probation faces the possibility of the court revoking, modifying, or continuing the terms of probation as it deems necessary. Accusations of VOP’s can carry significant consequences, which frequently include arrest, no right to bond upon arrest, no tolling of time already served on probation, the addition of subsequent charges, a guilty conviction for the original offense, and/or an imposition of any sentence the original offense could have incurred.

Tallahassee Violation of Probation Attorney

To protect yourself against allegations of violating your probation, contact Pumphrey Law today. The experience and knowledge of our attorneys can provide crucial assistance to your case. It is imperative to hire an attorney who can protect your interests, and help you avoid the most severe consequences. Contact the firm at (850) 681-7777 or send us an online message to discuss the facts of your probation conditions and the alleged violation from Leon County, or the surrounding areas in North Florida.

Violations of Probation Information Center

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Types, Conditions, and Terms of Probation

Probation is an alternative to a jail or prison sentence. Probation is defined as the court-imposed criminal sentence that releases a convicted criminal defendant into the community. One of the most important aspects of being placed on probation is the mandatory requirement to follow all stated conditions and restrictions within the probation agreement.

In the state of Florida, there are varying types of probation based on the offense a person was convicted of. It is important to establish the different types of probation, which include the following:

  • Standard Probation – The court ordered term of community supervision with specified conditions for a specified period. The probationer is required to abide by all conditions ordered by the Court.
  • Community Control Intensive supervision program where you are confined to your home unless for the purposes of work, school, performing public service hours, participating in treatment, or any other specified conditions approved by the Community Control officer.
  • Drug Offender Probation – Intensive supervision that emphasizes treatment for individuals convicted of a drug offense. Typically includes elements of substance abuse treatment and attending the Probation Restitution Center, designed to assist offenders obtaining employment to pay back restitution to their victims.
  • Sex Offender Probation – Intensive supervision for offenders convicted of a sex offense. Typically requires special conditions relating to the nature of sex crimes, including treatment, electronic monitoring, prohibited internet access, and/or being prohibited from visiting places where children are present. Individuals who are sex offender probation will also be required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement agencies.

It’s equally as important to know the type of probation you are on, just as it is to know and understand the conditions of your agreed-upon probation. Florida Statute Section 948.03 establishes the terms and conditions that are set for a probationer, including:

  • Reporting to their probation officer as directed;
  • Giving permission to their probation officer to enter their home at any time for supervision;
  • Finding and maintaining employment;
  • Staying within a specific location such as a state, county, or town, unless given permission to travel by their probation officer;
  • Paying restitution;
  • Completing any required community service;
  • Consenting to any random testing for drugs or alcohol; and
  • Any other special requirements provided by the court or probation officer.

Additionally, the probationer may also be required to refrain or be prohibited from doing the following:

  • Violating any other laws while on probation;
  • Associating with any other persons involved with criminal activities;
  • Carrying a firearm or weapon; and
  • Visiting a place where alcohol or controlled substances are sold.

When an individual fails to follow the rules of their probation, they may be accused of a violation of probation.

What is Violation of Probation in Florida?

According to Florida Statute Section 948.06, you may be accused of a violation of probation (VOP) if your probation officer has any reasonable grounds to believe you violated or failed to meet the conditions outlined in your probation requirements in any material way. The two types of probation violations in Florida are: technical violations and substantive violations.

A technical VOP implies that the probationer failed to obey all the standard or special terms of their probation. Technical violations can include any of the following:

  • A positive drug or alcohol test;
  • Failure to report to the probation officer;
  • Failure to attend an obligated class, treatment, or counseling; and/or
  • Violating curfew.

Any time a probationer willfully fails to meet any of the conditions outlined in their probation terms, it is indicative of a VOP.

A substantive VOP implies that the probationer broke the law or committed another criminal offense while already on probation. An example would be if a first time DUI probationer is charged with an assault offense while on probation. However, cases such as Ontiveros v. State established that an arrest alone is not sufficient evidence to determine a substantive VOP. Additionally, the offense must take place after the placement of probation, as established in Nelson v. State.

Important: Unlike with a typical trial for a criminal offense, the burden of proof for a VOP only requires a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that there is more than a 50% chance that the violation occurred. There is also no right to a jury for a VOP hearing.

Failure to follow any of the items listed can result in a violation of probation and lead to severe consequences.

Probation Hearing Proceedings

After getting arrested for an alleged VOP, you will be permitted a VOP hearing. However, the warrant for your arrest will typically state no bond is permitted, so you may be held for weeks or even months in jail until your hearing is set.

Once the VOP hearing is set, a sentencing judge will hear your case to determine if you did, in fact, violate any of the terms or conditions. Again, you are not entitled to a jury in a VOP hearing. It’s important to know that during a VOP hearing, you may be forced to testify against yourself or have a witness testify against you.

During the VOP hearing, the prosecuting attorney only needs to prove that is more likely than not that you violated the terms of your probation. The typical evidentiary standard in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but this standard goes out the window in exchange for a much less lenient standard.

Penalties for a VOP

Once a probationer is found guilty of a VOP—whether through admission or through a judge declaring the violation during a conducted hearing—there are several actions to take in terms of punishment.

If the alleged VOP is considered a technical violation, Florida Statute Section 948.06 states that the probation officer must first determine if the probationer is eligible for alternative sanctions. Section(9)(a) states, “the chief judge of each judicial circuit may, by administrative order, define additional sanctions or eligibility criteria and specify the process for reporting technical violations through the alternative sanctioning program.”

Once an alleged technical VOP is addressed, it must be determined whether the violation was a low-risk or moderate-risk violation.

If the alleged technical VOP is deemed as a low-risk violation, then the penalties for a first or second violation can be offered one or more of the following alternative sanctions:

  • Up to five days in jail;
  • Up to 50 additional community service hours;
  • Counseling or treatment;
  • Support group attendance;
  • Drug testing;
  • Loss of travel or other privileges;
  • Curfew for up to 30 days;
  • House arrest for up to 30 days; or
  • Any other sanction that is determined by the administrative order of the chief circuit judge.

If the alleged technical VOP is deemed as a moderate-risk violation, then the penalties for a first violation can be offered one or more of the following alternative sanctions:

  • Up to 21 days in jail;
  • Curfew for up to 90 days;
  • House arrest for up to 90 days;
  • Electronic monitoring for up to 90 days;
  • Residential treatment for up to 90 days; and/or
  • Any other sanction available for a low-risk violation.

Important: There is no circumstance where the participation in alternative sanctions can convert a withheld adjudication to an adjudication of guilt.

If the alleged VOP is considered a substantive violation, meaning that a judge has found reasonable grounds to believe that the probationer has violated their terms in a material respect by committing a new crime or violation of law, then the judge may issue a warrant for the probationer’s arrest. Once arrested, the probationer will need to appear before the judge in a probation hearing.

Florida Statute Section 948.06(2)(a) explains that a probationer who is accused of a substantive violation faces one of the following penalties from the court:

  1. Revoke probation: The judge adjudicates the probation as guilty of the underlying offense, meaning the original sentence may be imposed. If the judge determines the probationer qualifies as a violent felony offender, then the judge is authorized to impose the maximum sentence for the underlying offense.
  2. Modify probation: The judge modifies the terms of the probation terms by adding more conditions, extending the probation period, or both.
  3. Continue or reinstate probation: While not very common, the judge may decide against revoking or modifying the terms of probation and instead decide to continue the agreed-upon conditions, but with a strict warning against any future violations.

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Defenses to a Violation of Probation

When faced with a potential violation of probation, it helps to know there are ways to fight against it and its resulting penalties. There are ways to reduce the severity of your probation violation, as the judge will look at several factors in determining punishment for violating probation. For example, the judge will look at whether you are a first-time probation offender, if you made reasonable efforts to comply with the terms of your probation, and whether you intentionally violated the terms of your probation. If you have been accused of violating probation or community control, it is imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The attorneys with Pumphrey Law can help establish if any of the following defenses are applicable to your VOP case:

  • Medical emergency or other factors beyond the probationer’s control caused them to violate their probation;
  • The probationer had a valid reason for their inability to pay the required probation fees;
  • The probation officer’s curfew compliance check was invalid due to them checking at unreasonable hours when the probationer would be expected to be sleeping and therefore was unable to answer;
  • The probationer did not make a willful violation of probation; or
  • The probationer was unaware of the special conditions in their probation terms.

If you’re facing a potential VOP, contact Pumphrey Law for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and terms of probation.

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Resources for Florida Violations of Probation

Leon County Probation Division – The Leon County Probation program is dedicated to improving the quality of life of Leon County residents by making them productive and responsible citizens. The office is located at:

Leon County Probation Division
301 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Phone: (850) 606-5600

Florida Department of Corrections Probation ServicesThe office of Community Corrections oversees the supervision of offenders throughout the state of Florida. They monitor adult offenders in 130 different probation offices. The Tallahassee office is located at:

Tallahassee Circuit Office

1455 South Jefferson St.

Monticello, Florida 32344

Phone: (850) 487-4427

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Pumphrey Law | Tallahassee Probation Violation Lawyer

Just as quickly as probation may seem like a blessing sentence after agreeing to a plea, it can also come back to bite you if you fail to abide by the conditions set out in your probation terms. If you have recently been accused of a VOP in Tallahassee or any of the surrounding counties of North Florida, including Gadsden County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, or Liberty County, don’t hesitate to contact Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777.

The initial, free legal consultation about your alleged violation of probation is free and is an important first step towards protecting your future. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leon County to achieve the most desirable outcome in your case and to help you avoid harsh repercussions.

Page last updated December 13, 2023

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