If you’re put on probation, you must comply with specific terms, or you could have your probation revoked and face the full sentence for the charge you were placed on probation for.
This may include such violations as:
- Failing to report to your probation officer
- Committing a new crime
- Drug or alcohol use
- Failure to complete community service
- Associating with known criminals
- Failure to pay court-ordered fines
What is considered a violation will vary depending on the terms of your probation, so it is important for you to fully understand what’s expected of you and what you can and cannot do—or you could face the consequences.
In Tampa, probation violations are addressed by court hearings, but in some situations, your probation officer may have the power to issue a warning instead of demanding a court appearance. This will typically be handled on a case by case basis.
The Hearing Process
A probation violation hearing is overseen by a judge, who will hear all the evidence and render a decision shortly after.
These hearings present certain challenges:
- You do not have the right to a jury.
- There is no statute of limitations on probation violations, so you could face a hearing for an alleged violation that happened at any time.
- You do not have the right to a bond while you’re waiting for your hearing.
- Hearsay (the report of another person’s words by a witness) is admissible against you.
- You may be forced to testify against yourself.
- Guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
What’s more, the judge will have a good deal of leeway in determining punishment for a violation of probation. This makes it all the more important to have an attorney on your side at your hearing, to prepare you and to present a compelling case on your behalf. This could mean the difference between a warning and prison time.
At Thomas & Paulk, our extensive criminal defense experience gives us an edge in probation violation hearings. We know the local judges in Tampa, and we know what they’re looking for as they consider the evidence and make their decisions. Our attorneys are skilled at building defenses appropriate to our clients’ cases and that offer the best opportunity at a positive outcome.
Depending on the case, possible defenses may include:
- Innocence, such as a case of mistaken identity
- Insufficient evidence to prove the violation
Our job is to present the right argument in the right way, and we take this very seriously.
Avoiding Negative Hearing Outcomes
Without proper counsel, you could face very severe consequences. If the judge decides you’ve violated your probation, he or she may enforce such penalties as:
- Increasing the length of your probation
- Introducing new, stricter terms
- Community service, fines, or rehabilitation
- Revoking probation, meaning you’d face the maximum penalty for the charge you were placed on probation for
So, if you’ve been accused of a violation of probation, do not wait to involve an attorney. Right now, your freedom is already in jeopardy. You need someone on your side to help you prepare for your hearing and to protect your rights. In some cases, if our team can get involved early enough, we can even avoid a hearing in the first place.
To learn more, call Thomas & Paulk today at (813) 321-7323. We serve clients in Tampa and across Florida, and we stand ready to see how we can help you.