Judge With a Gavel and Probation Paperwork at a HearingWhen you are first placed on probation, you’ll be informed of the rules you must follow to remain in good standing. If you disobey the conditions the state has set, you can be charged with a probation violation. While these charges are sometimes resolved by agreement with the judge, it is important to know what to expect from your hearing and to retain an experienced defense attorney who can ensure your rights are protected.

How a Probation Violation Hearing Is Different

A violation of probation (VOP) proceeding follows different rules than what would be expected if you were charged with a new crime. Because you have already been found guilty of an offense and have violated the terms of your sentence, you have less legal protection under the law.

Some of the key differences between a VOP hearing and a hearing for a new criminal offense include:

  • There is no statute of limitations.
  • You have no right to a jury trial.
  • You can be forced to testify against yourself.
  • Hearsay is admissible.
  • Often, your probation officer is the state’s only witness.
  • You have no constitutional right to request a bond while awaiting your hearing.
  • Guilt is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower standard of proof than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used when you are charged with a new crime.

Potential Outcomes

If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation, there are three potential outcomes:

  • Your probation can be revoked. This means the judge will impose any sentence associated with the original charge, including incarceration.
  • Your probation can be modified. The judge can choose to add new conditions to your probation or extend the probationary period.
  • Your probation can be reinstated. Although this only happens in rare cases, the judge can choose to allow your probation to continue with only a warning against engaging in future violations.

Let Us Help You Protect Your Rights

A VOP hearing can have serious consequences. When your freedom and your future are at stake, the smart move is to contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Flaherty & Merrifield Criminal Defense is here to help. Contact us today to request a free and discreet consultation.

 

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