Tampa Probation Violations
Probation Violation Attorneys Serving Tampa Since 2001
If you face criminal charges in Tampa, you will learn a lot about Florida’s criminal procedure, which typically involves probation—a type of sentence imposed upon criminals. When a defendant is found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail. In some cases, the defendant serves a part of their sentence in jail and the rest of the sentence on probation. The defendant’s sentence is suspended while they are supervised in the community on probation.
While on probation, the defendant must comply with a strict list of terms and be on their best behavior. If they violate any of the terms, they can be brought before a judge to address the 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 their original sentence.
Accused of Violating Your Probation’s Terms?
A probation violation is a serious criminal charge that may result in imprisonment or extended probation. It is crucial that you retain an experienced defense team. At Thomas & Paulk, we’ve handled more than 7,000 cases. Our team has what you need to take on the most challenging probation violation cases. You have the right to challenge allegations that you have violated probation.
In the face of an alleged probation violation, working with our Tampa criminal defense attorneys may be the key to protecting your freedom. Contact us today to learn how!
Probation Violations: Terms & Conditions
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.
The following are examples of general, or standard, probation conditions:
- Pay all court-ordered fines and fees.
- Remain in 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 hurt somebody or caused someone to suffer financial loss, pay restitution.
- 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 your probation officer's consent.
- Do not possess any controlled substances or drugs without a valid prescription.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
Special Conditions of Probation
A probationer may have other special conditions of probation as well. For example, if the probationer committed a drug or alcohol offense, they may be ordered to abstain. They may also be ordered to stay away from all establishments that serve or sell alcohol.
The following are examples of special conditions:
- 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.
- Pay for and attend an HIV/AIDS Awareness Program that lasts two to four hours.
If you fail to do any of these things, whether it's a standard or special condition, your probation officer will decide whether to give you a warning or take the matter further, to a probation violation hearing.
Do not forget your rights in the face of an alleged probation violation. Our Tampa law firm is here to help – call (813) 321-7323 today!
Things might seem hopeless in the face of an alleged probation violation, but you still have rights. You still have options. As Tampa probation violation attorneys with decades of experience under our belts, we know how to help. Now is your chance to learn more.
Types of Probation Violations
A violation of probation must be a willful and substantial failure to comply with the terms and conditions of probation.
What does this mean?
- Willful means intentional or deliberate. Missing an appointment with your probation officer because you were involved in a car accident is an example of a violation that is not willful because it was not done on purpose.
- Substantial means large in size, value, or importance. In this sense, the incident must have been significant enough to count as a violation. Being five minutes late for your appointment with your probation officer or one day late in paying a fine is most likely not substantial enough to count.
Substantive Violations vs. Technical Violations
If a violation was willful and substantial, it can further be a substantive or technical violation.
- A technical violation is a violation of a standard or special condition of probation (i.e. only someone on probation could get arrested for this)
- A substantive violation occurs when a person on probation commits a new crime
If you're accused of committing a misdemeanor or felony while on probation, you may face criminal charges for the new offense, plus the consequences of probation violation, which could include an extension of probation or a revocation of probation altogether. Per Section 948.06(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes, a revocation means you could face the full sentence of the crime you were initially put on probation for.
Getting Bond After a Probation Violation Arrest
If you or a loved one has been arrested for violating probation, you don't have the right to bond. Even so, if you have an attorney who can request a bond hearing and successfully represent you there, it is still possible to avoid incarceration by getting out on bond.
In such a bond hearing, a judge usually gets just enough time to read the arrest affidavit and the details of the alleged violation, and then they make the decision on whether to grant bond or not. It is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney who knows you and can clearly and effectively advocate for you at every stage of your case.
A judge may be more disposed to grant bond if you were accused:
- Of a non-violent offense,
- A first-time violation of probation,
- A technical violation instead of a willful, substantive violation, and/or
- As a probationer who has no prior criminal convictions
If you know there is a warrant out for your arrest due to a probation violation, speak to an experienced defense lawyer right away about how best to proceed with your case. Whether your case is in Hillsborough County, or Pasco, Pinellas, or Polk County, you need someone who is well-versed in local courts, as certain regulations and legal options can vary from county to county and office to office.
Jail/Prison Sentences for Violations of Probation in Florida
The following are examples of probation violations that may result in a revocation of probation and the imposition of your full sentence:
- Being convicted of a new crime
- Absconding (moving/changing your phone number without telling your probation officer)
- Multiple lesser probation violations, such as failing to report, failing to pay a fine, missing court-ordered rehabilitation, etc.
Not all probation violations warrant imprisonment, and you have the right to legal counsel so you’re prepared for and represented at your hearing. This is why it is so important to involve your attorney as soon as you’re arrested or learn that you’re accused of violating probation.
The Probation Violation Hearing Process
Probation officers can exercise their discretion for most minor or first-time violations, meaning they may let you off with a warning. For more severe or repeat violations, however, you’ll likely face a hearing before a judge, who will decide whether you committed the violation and what penalty is appropriate.
These hearings present certain challenges, such as:
- 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. With these factors stacked against you, it is much easier to prove you violated probation.
Although these issues may make your case more difficult, our Tampa probation violation lawyers may be able to employ effective defense strategies to secure a positive outcome.
Avoiding Negative Hearing Outcomes
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 could face the maximum penalty for the charge you were placed on probation for
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.
Possible Defenses in Your Probation Violation Case
At Thomas & Paulk, our extensive criminal defense experience gives us an edge in Tampa probation violation hearings. We know the local judges, 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, our defense strategy may include:
- Providing examples of your good character
- Challenging the alleged violation itself
- Bringing to light a violation of your rights.
- Innocence, such as a case of mistaken identity
- Insufficient evidence to prove the violation
Carefully reviewing your case will help our lawyers determine the best approach based on the circumstances. Our job is to present the right argument in the right way, and we take this very seriously.
At Thomas & Paulk, we have the advantage of our experience as former prosecutors when we represent Tampa probationers. We know the law, the judges, the courts, and the probation officers. We use this experience to seek the best possible result in every case. No case is too complex or challenging for us to take on.
Interested in learning more? Give our team a call at (813) 321-7323!
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