Articles Posted in Probation Violation

As part of the penalty for being convicted of a crime, some defendants are sentenced to probation. This may be in addition to or instead of jail time. Many defendants prefer a longer term of probation over a shorter term of incarceration because they are able to live in the community. However, if a defendant is found to have violated the conditions of their probation, then they may be sentenced to serve more time in jail or prison. Probation violations are a serious matter so if you are accused of violating probation you should contact a skilled Clearwater probation violation attorney as soon as possible.

Probation in Florida

There are several different kinds of probation in Florida. The general kind of probation more or less allows defendants to live their normal lives, but requires them to check in with their probation officer periodically. Of course they must follow all laws and not engage in any criminal behavior. Along with the supervision requirements, probation often includes requirements to attend or complete programs such as drug or alcohol rehabilitation or counseling. Probation can also make certain generally lawful behaviors unlawful, such as possessing firearms or socializing with people who have criminal records.

Many people who are convicted of crimes in Florida will have to serve a term of probation as part of their sentence. Probation is a punishment somewhat in between incarceration and freedom. The specifics can differ depending on the individual and their charges, but when someone is on probation they may be subject to drug testing, curfew, mandated counseling, or any other requirement that the court imposes. Many defendants prefer probation over incarceration for obvious reasons, but if someone violates the conditions of their probation they may face a longer jail sentence than they would have initially. If you are offered a plea deal that includes probation, you will want to make your decision in consultation with your knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney.

Probation Violation in Florida

Probation can make otherwise lawful activity unlawful. For example, while of course it is usually legal for adults to be out of their home after 9pm, if being home by 9pm is a condition of your probation, you can be arrested for being out later than that. Another interesting aspect of probation is that the standard of proof is different than with criminal court. In order to prove a violation of probation, the state does not have to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. Those charged with a violation of probation will also not have the opportunity to go in front of a jury but will instead be subject to the judge’s ruling. If a judge finds that a defendant has violated their probation, they can be sentenced to the maximum amount of time permitted for the underlying charge. The court will look at the conviction which led to the probation, not the conduct that violated the probation.

In a case that recently came out of the First District Court of Appeals in Florida, the appeals court reversed the trial court’s finding of a probation violation. If you are given a suspended sentence or probation, and you believe that you were wrongly accused of violating those conditions, you should contact a skilled Clearwater probation violation attorney as soon as possible.Probation and Suspended Sentences

In some cases, especially for minor and first offenses, instead of incarceration, the judge may order probation or a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence means that the defendant will not have to serve the sentence if they meet certain requirements for a specific period of time. During sentencing, the judge should make clear what the conditions of the suspended sentence are and what the conditions of probation are. Sometimes all that is needed for a suspended sentence is to stay out of trouble. In other cases, the defendant may need to attend rehab or pursue employment.

If the defendant does not follow the conditions that the judge has set for their suspended sentence, the judge can order them to serve the sentence. Similarly, if the defendant violates the terms of their probation, the judge can incarcerate them for violating probation. However, the prosecution must prove that the defendant willfully violated a substantial condition of the probation.

Probation is an alternative to prison time in which a person convicted of a Florida crime is allowed to remain free if he or she complies with various terms and restrictions of the release. The requirements usually include meeting regularly with a probation officer and keeping the officer aware of where you are living. A recent case out of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal shows just how serious judges take those requirements, even if you’re homeless.Defendant was charged with burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and third-degree grand theft in 2016. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a certain unidentified time in prison, followed by two years of probation. Defendant was released on probation in April 2016. Two months later, his probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that Defendant had already violated his probation. The officer said Defendant had failed to report, as directed, changed his residence without getting the probation officer’s prior approval, and failed to complete a recidivism prevention program. The probation officer also noted that Defendant had been charged with two crimes since his release: two counts of grand theft.

A judge eventually determined that Defendant willfully violated the terms of the probation. As a result, the judge revoked Defendant’s probation and sent him back to prison for 10 years. Defendant appealed that decision.

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Plea deals can be a valuable tool for anyone charged with a crime in Florida. These arrangements allow a person to start to move on with his or her life after being charged with a Florida gun crime or another offense by working out a resolution that often includes a lesser punishment in exchange for pleading guilty. It is important, however, for anyone considering a plea deal to understand that the punishment can be enhanced if you don’t abide by the terms of the deal. Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal recently took on the case of a Florida man who was thrown behind bars after allegedly violating the terms of his house arrest.The defendant entered into a plea deal with Florida prosecutors after he was charged with armed robbery, grand theft, and petit theft. He agreed to plead guilty to the grand theft charge, and the prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges. He was sentenced to two years of supervised house arrest, followed by three years of probation. As part of the house arrest, he was required to stay at his home and permitted to leave the property only for school, work, community service, and other limited purposes.

The defendant was later charged with violating the terms of his release by leaving the residence without an approved reason and failing to submit to electronic monitoring. Following a hearing, he was sentenced to three years in state prison. The judge said the defendant posed a threat to the community, based partly on some of the original allegations against the defendant in the robbery and theft case. He appealed the decision, arguing that the judge should not have taken into account any allegations related to the charges that were dropped. The Fifth District agreed in part.

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One of the principles underlying criminal prosecution is that the defendant must be mentally competent to stand trial. Therefore, the determination of competency can be a threshold issue before proceeding with a criminal prosecution. A Florida appeals court, in a recent decision, further clarified that mental competency is a due process right, ruling that once the issue of competency is raised, the defendant must undergo an exam or evaluation before the right can be waived.In Sheheane v. State, the State brought the defendant before a court in connection with three alleged Florida probation violations. During the proceedings, the defendant’s counsel raised the issue of the defendant’s mental competency. The trial court ruled that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant might be incompetent to proceed. The court set a date for a competency hearing, but it never occurred. The defendant later, at an unrelated hearing, entered a plea for the probation violations. The defendant waived his right to competency evaluations, and the written plea indicated that the defendant believed that he was competent. As a result of the plea, the defendant was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for the probation violations.

Under Florida law, mental competency evaluations arise out of due process rights. This procedural due process right is aimed at protecting the accused from standing trial if they are incompetent. Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.210(b) provides, in part, that if any party to the proceeding has reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is not mentally competent to proceed, the court is required to promptly hold a mental competency hearing, and it may order the defendant to be examined by up to three experts before the date of such a hearing.

The appellate court first distinguished between the concept of waiver and the concept as applied in the incompetency context. The court ruled that once reasonable grounds exist to question the defendant’s competency, the defendant cannot waive the right to a competency evaluation. The court pointed out the contradiction in the State’s position. The defendant cannot simultaneously knowingly waive his right to have the court determine his capacity and also have reasonable grounds to believe that he was incompetent. The trial court was ordered to comply with the court’s written opinion and required that the defendant undergo the mental examination in order to determine whether the defendant was competent to proceed.