Probation in Florida
In Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as well as throughout the state of Florida, a court may sentence a defendant convicted of a non-capital crime who does not pose a threat to society to probation as an alternative to incarceration. A defendant does not have a right to probation; rather, probation is described as a “state of grace.” The court is responsible for determining the terms and conditions of a defendant’s probation. These conditions may include among them the following, that the probationer shall:
- Report to the probation supervisors as directed
- Permit probation supervisors to visit him or her at his or her home or elsewhere
- Remain within a specified place
- Live without violating any law
- Not associate with persons engaged in criminal activities
- Be prohibited from possessing, carrying, or owning any firearm
- Submit to random drug testing
Violation of Probation in Florida
As a probationer, there are two ways you can violate your probation: a substantive (new law) violation or a technical violation. A substantive (new law) violation occurs when you are charged for committing a new crime while on probation (i.e., you are charged with a DUI while on probation for a theft charge). A technical violation occurs when you violate any term or condition of you probation (i.e., missing a meeting with a probation officer or owning a firearm while on probation). If the probation officer alleges that you committed a technical violation, he will complete an affidavit of violation of probation. Depending on the probation officer’s recommendation in the affidavit, a warrant may be issued for your arrest and once arrested, you may have to wait in county jail until your violation of probation hearing. A violation of probation hearing is handled differently than the criminal proceedings used for a substantive violation. In a violation of probation hearing for a technical violation:
- You do not have the right to a jury trial;
- The prosecutor only has to prove your guilt by a preponderance of evidence standard (a much lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used at criminal proceedings);
- Hearsay is admissible against you; and
- You may be forced to testify against yourself.
If you are found guilty of violating your probation, the judge can: reinstate your probation, modify your probation, or revoke your probation and incarcerate you. If the judge chooses to revoke your probation, Florida law allows the judge to sentence you to the maximum penalty for the criminal charge you were initially placed on probation for.
Whether you have been charged with violating your probation in Miami-Dade County or Broward County due to a new criminal charge or a technical violation, you need the advice and counsel of an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney who has represented many individuals facing probation violation charges. Yale Galanter and his team of Miami criminal defense attorneys have significant experience helping clients charged with probation violations and will provide the aggressive and skilled legal representation necessary to potentially eliminate or reduce your probation violation charges.