If you are facing criminal charges in Tampa or anywhere else in Florida, you may be interested in learning about probation. Surely, you have heard of “probation” before, but what does it mean exactly?
When a criminal defendant is placed on probation, he or she is released from confinement, but they are not out of the woods yet; they are still under the court’s supervision. In other words, probation is much like a testing or trial period for the defendant and they must be on their “best behavior” while the court watches from up-close or afar.
There are different scenarios where someone may be placed on probation, for example, a defendant may receive probation in lieu of prison, it may be given if a convict has demonstrated good behavior, or when a prison sentence is suspended.
Often, someone is placed on probation when they have been convicted of a minor offense and the state does not see the point in spending its limited tax dollars on incarcerating the individual. When someone is placed on probation he or she can be free under the court’s supervision, providing they exhibit good behavior and follow strict rules established by the court.
When someone is placed on probation, they must remain under the close supervision of a probation officer and they are required to adhere to certain conditions set by the court. If the probationer violates one of their conditions or “terms” of probation, he or she may be subjected to further restrictions, or they may be incarcerated depending on the facts of the case.
What are the standard conditions?
The terms and conditions of probation are found under Section 948.03 of the Florida Statutes. While the court determines the specific terms and conditions of a defendant’s probation, the standard conditions of probation under Florida law are as follows:
- Report to the probation supervisor as directed by the court
- Allow the probation officer to visit the probationer’s home, place of employment, or other places
- Remain gainfully employed in a suitable job
- Stay within a specific area, such as within county or state limits
- Do not break any new laws
- Make restitution to any parties who were harmed by the crime
- Financially support one’s dependents
- Do not associate with any people who are engaged in criminal activities
- Willingly submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing
- Do not possess, own, or carry any firearms
- Do not use any controlled substances unless they were lawfully prescribed by a doctor
As a general rule, criminal defendants find probation to be a favorable alternative to being behind bars for reasons we can understand. Still, probationers must not take probation for granted; while on probation, they must adhere to strict terms and conditions, or face the wrath of their PO and the courts.
While there are different levels of probation, such as administrative (non-reporting), reporting, sex offender, drug offender, and Community Control (the strictest type of probation also known as “house arrest”), they all require absolute compliance with the various terms and conditions. The state has zero tolerance for violators, who are penalized for their noncompliance.
Consequences of a Probation Violation
Sometimes it’s difficult to adhere to one’s standard terms of probation. If a probationer violates one of their terms of probation, it can lead to an arrest warrant being issued. Generally, a probation officer (PO) learns that a probationer violated one of the terms of their probation, then the PO can either make a “warrantless arrest,” or they can prepare an affidavit and present it to the judge.
From there, the judge examines the affidavit and if they agree with the PO, the judge will issue an arrest warrant. Once issued, the defendant will likely be arrested and held in custody.
If you violated your probation and suspect an arrest is imminent, contact our office to speak with a Tampa criminal defense attorney immediately. Unless you can prove to your PO without a doubt that you were compliant, you are not likely to dissuade your PO from finding you in violation and imposing harsh consequences.
If you are accused of violating your probation, your best option is to contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. so we can defend the matter on your behalf.