Probation and Community Control in Florida
Almost everyone has a rudimentary understanding of what “probation” entails. When a Floridian is sentenced to probation, they are released—or exempted—or from incarceration, but subject to certain, limiting conditions, such as supervision and regular drug or alcohol testing.
However, probation is not Florida’s only alternative to a jail or prison sentence. People who have been convicted of certain felony offenses may be eligible for “community control,” which allows them to live at home and travel to approved locations, such as their place of work, an educational institute, and public services offices.
Community control is typically more stringent than probation and could be considered akin to house arrest, insofar as the offender can only leave their home to travel to authorized locations.
Common Probation and Community Control Violations
When a Florida resident is sentenced to probation or released on community control, the court could make their freedom contingent on adherence to a strict code of conduct. You might be required to obtain permission to travel out of state or overseas, or be instructed to avoid associating with known criminals.
While someone could be found in violation of probation or community control for a wide range of reasons, some of the most common causes include:
- Failure to report to mandatory monthly meetings.
- Being arrested or charged with another criminal offense.
- Traveling outside of Florida without seeking approval.
- Moving or changing residences without information your probation or community control officer.
- Breaking a no-contact or restraining order.
- Contacting a victim or victim’s family members.
- Refusing to pay court-ordered restitution, fines, or legal costs.
- Failing or refusing to take a urine or breath test.
- Breaking any additional conditions of probation or community control.
If law enforcement or your probation officers believes that you have violated your probation or community control supervision, they could draft a warrant for your arrest. Should a judge review and approve the warrant, you could be taken back into custody before you are given the chance to tell your side of the story.
The Penalties for Probation and Community Control Violations
When somebody violates the terms of the probation or community control sentence, they must attend a hearing in the court of their original conviction. If you, or a loved one, have been charged with a violation, you are still entitled to retain competent legal representation for the hearing.
Depending on the circumstances of your alleged violation, the court could:
- Impose additional penalties or conditions for your probation or community release.
- Order you to wear an electronic monitoring device.
- Revoke your probation and order you to serve the remainder of your sentence in jail or in prison.
- Revoke your probation or community control supervision, and charge you with any additional crimes you are suspected of committing.
Defending Yourself From a Probation or Community Control Violation Claim
Since people who are placed on probation or community control have already been convicted of a crime, they are not entitled to a trial by jury to determine whether they committed the alleged violative offenses. However, the courts will still allow you to defend yourself against the charges and tell your side of the story.
- Deny the violation. You do not have the right to bond or a jury-trial after an alleged violation of probation. However, you can demand an evidentiary hearing, in which you will be given the opportunity to present evidence that you did not commit the violation. The prosecutor, or law enforcement, will also be permitted to enter evidence against you. After appraising the available evidence, the judge may only revoke probation or impose additional conditions if they have reasonable cause to believe that your violation was both willful and substantial.
- Admit the violation. Even if you clearly violated the terms of your probation or community control, the courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to revoke probation or impose additional penalties.
Flaherty & Criminal Defense could consider the circumstances of your case, and the evidence against you, to create a compelling case to protect your freedom, preserve your reputation, and keep you out of jail.
Contact an Okaloosa County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a violation of probation in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.