If you are facing criminal charges in Tampa or anywhere else in Florida, soon you will be learning a lot about Florida’s criminal procedure, which typically involves probation. Since probation plays a key role in the criminal justice process, we decided to dedicate a post to it.
What is probation exactly? Technically, it’s a type of sentence imposed upon criminals. The criminal defendant is found guilty of a criminal offense and he or she is sentenced to jail. The defendant’s sentence is suspended while he or she is supervised in the community on probation. In some cases, the defendant serves a part of their sentence in jail and he or she carries out the rest of the sentence on probation.
While on probation, the defendant must comply with a strict list of terms and conditions, and the probationer must be on their best behavior. If the probationer violates any of the terms of their probation, he or she can be arrested and brought before a judge to address the probation violation. If the judge determines that the probationer did violate their probation, the judge can revoke the probation (take it away) and send the probationer to jail to carry out his or her original sentence.
Probation Under Florida Law
In Florida, the “terms and conditions of probation” are covered under Section 948.03 of the Florida Statutes. Under Sec. 948.03 it states, “The court shall determine the terms and conditions of probation.” What this means is there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to probation. Even if two defendants commit the same crime, they may have a different set of probation conditions imposed upon them, though some of the terms may be the same.
General probation conditions imposed upon probationers:
- Pay all court-ordered fines and fees.
- Remain is a specific area, such as the county you live in.
- Do not break any state or federal laws while on probation.
- Faithfully maintain suitable employment.
- If you have dependents, support them financially.
- If you hurt somebody or caused someone to suffer financial loss, pay restitution to the aggrieved party (if directed by the court).
- Report to your probation officer as directed by the court.
- Do not associate with people who engage in criminal activity.
- Do not carry, own or possess any firearm without receiving consent from your probation officer.
- Do not possess any controlled substances or drugs without a valid prescription from a licensed physician.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
- Let the probationer officer visit you at home or wherever they please.
The above are the general or common terms of probation; however, a probationer may have other special conditions imposed as well. For example, if the probationer committed a drug or alcohol offense, he or she may be ordered to abstain from using any alcohol or illegal drugs. He or she may also be ordered to stay away from all establishments that serve or sell alcohol.
Special conditions that may be imposed:
- You must attend a support group.
- You cannot associate with __ person while on probation.
- You cannot contact the victim or their family members.
- You must receive mandatory treatment and counseling.
- You must pay for and successfully complete anger management classes or a batterer’s intervention program.
- Pay for and attend an HIV/AIDS Awareness Program that lasts two to four hours.
As you can see, the average probationer has quite a few terms and conditions to follow. If a probationer violates one of the terms and it’s discovered, what’s likely to follow is a probation revocation hearing, which does not involve a jury. During the hearing, the judge decides if a violation in fact took place and what the consequences will be.
If you’re facing criminal charges or a probation revocation, contact Thomas & Paulk, PA to meet with a Tampa criminal defense lawyer who is also a former prosecutor! Learn more about our attorneys' credentials by clicking here.