What is Probation?

empty courtroom with dark wooden benchesProbation is a form of legal supervision that is imposed by the Florida court in lieu of jail time, or following a prison term. Probation can often be an option for someone charged with a misdemeanor or felony in order to reduce crowding among Florida’s prison system, and to assist in the rehabilitation of low-level offenders.

Probation is not something any person is entitled to, but rather a privilege afforded by the Florida legal system. Whether this particular privilege is extended to a given offender is dependent on the crime they were charged with, the disposition of the defendant, harm to victims or property, and the discretion of the court. 

Probation: A State of Grace

Defendants who receive probation should always remember this probation is not a punitive measure, but rather a “state of grace” that implies that the court sees in the defendant an opportunity to move past the offenses that brought them before the court to begin with.

5 Different Types of Probation in Florida

Florida has five different types of probationary measures. Which one a defendant receives is contingent on the circumstances, nature and severity of the offense committed, danger to the community as a result, and whether the defendant displays remorse for their actions.

  • Standard Probation – People who have been sentenced to a standard probation are expected to abide by the terms of their probation, stay out of trouble with the law, and report to their probation on a regular basis.
  • Administrative Probation – This is the most lenient of all probations, and works much like Standard Probation. The difference between the two is that administrative probation does not have the mandated regular meetings with a probation officer. 
    • This type of probation is also referred to non-reporting probation.
  • Drug Offender Probation – This type of probation focuses on drug rehabilitation with mandated enrollment and successful completion of a substance abuse program. 
    • This goes hand in hand with mandatory random drug testing.
  • Sex Offender Probation – People convicted of sexual crimes can be required to undergo sex offender treatment, as well as strict oversight by a probation officer.
  • Community Control Probation – Also called “house arrest” this applies to confinement to a strictly defined location or locations, and is used in tandem with ankle monitors and other constant surveillance efforts. 

What is a Probation Violation?

The list of what violates probation can be both broad and covered a large range of behaviors, as well as specific and intended to curtail particular actions relative to a given individual. 

The state of Florida is most explicit in what is expected of people on probation. Failure to adhere to any of the items laid out in the probation terms is considered a violation and has very serious consequences including being returned to jail to serve the maximum or remainder of the original maximum sentence.

Offenses that can lead to a probation violation in Florida include but are not limited to:

  • New offenses
  • Failed Drug Tests
  • Failure to complete a substance abuse program as directed
  • In order to revoke probation for this offense, evidence must prove the defendant was responsible for the failure. 
  • Failure to enter and complete drug treatment is not actionable if there was no timetable for completion established.
  • Failure to pay court costs, restitution, costs of supervision, fines, costs of drug testing, and other fees is another common basis for violating probation in Florida. 
    • The burden to prove inability to pay lies with the person on probation.
  • Acts committed due to mental illness
  • An inability to prove willfulness
  • Acts committed due to ignorance
  • Failure to appear before the court or to report to probation officer

Can You Be Arrested and Go to Jail For Violation of Probation in Florida?

When an offense  is committed, the probation officer in charge petitions the court to approve a violation of probation order, and a warrant for arrest is usually signed at the same time. This is a particularly frightening occurrence, since if the person is taken into custody for violation, it can be weeks or even months before their case comes before a judge. Unless a lawyer can intercede, the person must remain in custody until that time. 

Legal Defense for Parole Violation in Florida

While far less common than claimed, it is possible to violate the terms of a probation order without being aware of having done so. While people on probation are expected to be responsible for their actions, an unexpected twist of fate can lead to the dismantling of months, even years of hard work.

For this reason, it is important to contact the experienced probation violation attorneys at Smith and Eulo law firm as soon as you have reason to believe you may have inadvertently violated the terms of your probation. Our expert legal counsel will use their thorough knowledge of probation statutes, as well as their skill at outreach and advocacy to work with probation officers and other authorities to avoid the filing of a violation probation notice, if possible.

Contact the probation violation lawyers at Smith and Eulo today.