Probation violation charges are highly sensitive situations and require the help of an experienced probation violation lawyer. In Florida courts, the standard of proof for probation violation cases is much lower than that in normal criminal cases. This means that the most minor offense, like driving with an invalid driver’s license, could lead to your probation being revoked.
Smith & Eulo Law Firm knows that, in these cases, your way of life is on the line. If your probation is revoked in Volusia county, it can affect your family, your job prospects, and your financial well-being. Our criminal defense attorneys are determined to defend you against these charges with timeliness and efficiency, don’t hesitate to contact us, we offer free consultations and we will tailor the defense of the case to fit your individual case or situation.
What is Probation?
Probation is a type of community supervision with the goal of rehabilitating you, while protecting society. There are certain unique requirements that each probationer must follow in order to not be in jail. Because every case tends to have its own unique circumstances there are several types of probation that a defendant may have to abide by.
Types of probation
- Regular Probation: obey certain conditions, regular contact with probation officers
- Administrative Probation: obey certain conditions, no probation officer
- Community Control: supervised custody, restricted travel permissions, and maybe under police surveillance
- Community Control II: full-time supervision of probation officers, confined to your residence, subject to electronic monitoring
- Sex Offender Probation: strict supervision of a probation officer, court mandated treatment
What is a probation violation?
You commit a probation violation when you ignore, avoid, refuse, or otherwise break the terms of your probation at any time during the probationary period. There are two kinds of probation violations: Technical and Substantive.
Substantive violations occur when you commit a new crime while on probation. This type of violation is the more serious of the two types, and there’s no statute of limitations on a crime you committed while on probation. You can be arrested and convicted of a new crime you committed while on probation at any time. Examples of new crimes include shoplifting, driving drunk, or using, possessing, or selling illegal drugs (any type of drug crime for that matter), domestic violence.
If an officer believes you’ve committed a new crime, they could immediately place you under arrest and file an Affidavit of Violation of a Department of Corrections Violation Report. In this affidavit they’ll give their sworn statement on how you violated the terms of your probation. This can be used against you in court, since courts will have to prove that you willfully and substantially violated your probation with non-hearsay evidence.
If the violation is more serious, your probation officer may determine that your violation will require a probation hearing. In these hearings, your case will be decided solely by a judge. The judge will factor in your past history of behavior while on probation and relevant circumstances of the alleged violation.
Technical violations are less severe, and are most often related to your failure to meet the conditions of your probation. Common probation violations include:
- Failing to report to your probation officer as required
- Failing to avoid certain people or locations as directed by probation terms
- Not paying fines or restitution as ordered by the court
- Missing court appearances
- Failure to maintain lawful employment
- Failing a drug test
- Failing to report to mandated rehabilitation programs
Because probation cases are different from criminal ones, the court determines your penalties. This can be good and bad. When you’re facing a probation violation charge, it allows a defendant to talk directly to the court and explain the circumstances around their violation. Defendants can also argue as to why revoking probation would be the wrong choice. However, this also gives the courts their power to revoke your probation for relatively minor violations.
How can I defend myself against a probation violation charge?
In court, the state prosecutor will have to show a willful and substantial violation of probation occurred based on the greater weight of non-hearsay evidence. However, the prosecutor must only prove that you most likely violated your probation. If it’s more than likely that you’re at fault of the violation, you can be found guilty. Because the standard of proof is so low in these cases, legal representation is critically important.
Your probation violations must be proven willfully and substantially in order to be convicted because, if you’re found guilty of a probation violation, the court could convict you of any penalties from your original sentencing. Where a defendant makes reasonable efforts to comply with a condition of probation, a violation cannot be deemed “willful.”
An experienced probation violation attorney can craft a legal defense showing that any violations you may have committed were accidental or you didn’t know they were occurring. For example, if you are restricted geographically in your probation, and you’re charged with having driven to the next county over, we can prove that you unknowingly drove into another county due to a lack of signage. Our criminal defense lawyers will employ any and all evidence to defend against your probation violation charges.
If you are arrested on violation of probation and are currently facing these charges, call us now, we can provide you with legal advice for the circumstances of your alleged violation, and stop any further ramifications from affecting your future, at Smith & Eulo we pride ourselves in ensuring there is a great attorney client relationship, so our clients feel comfortable providing all the information needed to defend them. Call us for a free consultation to schedule an appointment at one of our law offices.