Probation is a period of supervision by a court system that is ordered instead of prison time as a penalty for a crime. Probation can be given as a sentence instead of prison time at the time of conviction or can be given as a reward for good behavior in order to shorten a prison sentence. Probation violation can have serious consequences, including sentencing that is more severe than the original penalties.
Probation violation occurs when an individual breaks one or more of the rules of probation. Committing any crime is probation violation. There may be other terms that can cause a probation violation as well, such as failing to meet with a probation officer for a scheduled appointment. Probation rules may vary greatly between states, and can include specific contingencies based on the original crime.
The following are examples of common scenarios that may be considered probation violation:
- Failing a drug screening
- Being arrested for a crime
- Drinking alcohol
- Failing to be on time for a court appearance
- Failing to be on time for a meeting with the probation officer
- Traveling out of state without permission
- Failure to pay fines or restitution as ordered
- Associating with criminals
Florida Probation Violation Penalties
The penalties for a probation violation are largely influenced by the severity of the violation and the recommendations of the probation officer. A probation officer may choose to issue a warning before assigning further penalties for a first time probation violation. Probation officers may recommend additional probation time, a jail or prison sentence, or rehabilitation classes depending on the specific offense and whether or not there were previous offenses.
Following a probation violation, a probation hearing in which a judge listens to the details of the case and decides upon sentencing must be held. The defendant has the right to be informed of the specific violation that is being charged prior to a probation hearing. The judge that hears the details of the case should be neutral and have no previous association to the case. The defendant also has the right to refute charges and seek legal representation.
Probation Violation Consequences
A probation violation worsens a defendant’s criminal record and may have an impact on the perception of whether the defendant can be trusted in both professional and personal relationships. This perception can affect future job prospects, credit situations, and even friendships. It is very important to provide adequate defense for any perceived probation violation that is the result of misunderstanding or may not have occurred as it has been stated.
Probation Violation Defense
In many cases, there is a bias against those that have been accused of probation violation. Probation is often seen as a second chance for a defendant, and even an accusation of probation violation may be perceived as an abuse of trust. A defense attorney can help to dispel this perception and return the focus to the facts of the alleged probation violation.
Many times, alleged probation violations are a result of a misunderstanding between the probation officer and the probationer. A probationer may misunderstand certain terms of the probation and unintentionally violate the terms, or a probation officer may incorrectly interpret a situation in which a probationer is found or describes. A defense attorney may be able to speak to a probation officer before the case is even reviewed by a judge and explain the misunderstanding.
Unethical Probation Officers
In some cases, probation officers are unethical and may report a violation that has not occurred. Probation officers have a good deal of influence, and testimony from a probation officer may serve as evidence. A criminal defense attorney is imperative in a situation where a probation officer has reported a false probation violation. A criminal defense attorney will be able to assist the defendant in obtaining evidence that the allegations are false.
“18 U.S. Code Â§ 3565 – Revocation of probation.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3565>
“Probation Violation.” Probation Violation. ProbationViolation.org, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. <http://www.probationviolation.org/>