Under certain circumstances, people convicted of a misdemeanor or felony can convince the judge to let them serve their sentence in their own homes or communities. These arrangements are known as probation agreements. Probation is ordered by the court and it cannot last longer than the maximum sentence for the offense committed.
When a defendant is placed on probation, he or she must strictly follow all conditions set by the court, and if they violate any of the terms of their probation, the probation can be revoked and the individual can be incarcerated. For people on probation, it's a way to sleep in their own bed and live their own life while still serving out their sentence. However, it's not the same experience for everyone in probation.
There are three levels of probation under the watchful eye of the Florida Department of Corrections:
- Unsupervised Probation
- Supervised Probation
- Community Control
Unsupervised probation is extremely rare; it's essentially the legal version of the honor system. Supervised probation is far more common; if you know someone who was on probation, they were almost certainly supervised. The most extreme form of probation is known as Community Control.
So, what is Community Control?
The Definition of Community Control
Community Control in Florida is an alternative to incarceration available only to felons. Community Control allows an offender to live at home and travel to a pre-arranged list of locations; these usually include work, school, treatment, and public service. Anything outside of the list of approved locations must be approved by the defendant's Community Control officer. Whenever a defendant is not at the approved list of locations, they are expected to be at home.
Community Control is more serious than simple probation; it is essentially supervised house arrest in the community. With this intensive supervision program, the offender is confined to their home unless allowed by a supervising officer. The conditions of Community Control are extremely strict; some lawyers estimate that fewer than 1 in 10 people in the Community Control program get through it without committing a violation. Florida oversees more than 140,000 offenders each year who are under Community Control, which means as many as 126,000 of them commit a violation every year.
Additionally, people in Community Control are often responsible for the costs of:
- Supervision (they pay the state)
- Victim restitution
- Court costs and fines
- Various types of treatment they receive
Generally with probation, the probationer is required to meet their supervising officer at a local field office one or more times per a month. Depending on the circumstances, the probationer may receive visits from their supervising officer at their home or work. However, with Community Control probation, offenders are under constant surveillance.
Florida Community Control Rules
The stated goal of Community Control is to promote accountability and community supervision while providing a realistic alternative to imprisonment. When an offender is placed under Community Control, he or she will be under surveillance by administrative officers with lighter caseloads, including on weekends and holidays. Offenders must also provide supervising officers with a weekly schedule they must abide.
If you are placed under Community Control supervision in Florida, you cannot leave your house to do many of the activities you’re used to doing, such as:
- Visit friends
- Visit family
- Go on vacation
- Boating or fishing
- Go out to dinner
- Go to the movies
- See sporting events
Even grocery shopping is limited; you are not allowed to make a quick trip to the corner market for diapers, cigarettes, or milk without approval by your officer. When you do go shopping on approved trips, you must show the receipts so the trips will be cross-checked with your daily log.
Violation of Community Control
Like probation, if an offender violates the terms of Community Control, the court may revoke their agreement and incarcerate them for the rest of their sentence. Sometimes an offender will be returned to Community Control, but they will be electronically monitored. In such cases, they are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by private vendors. If an offender violates so much as their curfew, the private vendor will immediately notify the appropriate staff of the curfew violation, and officers will investigate.
Because the terms of Community Control are so easy to break, even by accident, it's vital for you to have a probation violation attorney on hand to protect you from alleged violations. If you've been charged with Community Control violations, Thomas & Paulk can represent you to fight for your continued participation in the program. As hard as Community Control may be, it's preferable to prison, so our attorneys will do everything possible to ensure you're able to stay in your home for the rest of your sentence.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your defense strategies and legal options!