Articles Posted in Probation Violation

In many cases in which a defendant is convicted of a sex crime, he or she will be sentenced to probation rather than imprisonment. If a person violates the terms of his or her probation, however, it can result in a revocation of probation. If the State seeks to revoke a defendant’s probation, it must provide the defendant with an affidavit of the alleged probation violation, and if the State fails to do so, it may violate due process. Recently, a Florida court of appeals analyzed whether an inaccurate affidavit of violation of probation is sufficient to sustain a revocation of probation in a sex crime case. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with violation of probation for a sex crime conviction it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney regarding what the State must prove to revoke your probation.

Factual and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with violating the terms of his probation for a sex crime conviction, Specifically, it was alleged that he possessed pornography in violation of the terms of his probation. Following a hearing, the court found that the defendant violated his probation and revoked his probation. He was subsequently sentenced to ninety-nine months imprisonment. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court committed an error by ruling he violated the term of his probation prohibiting him from possessing pornography, because the State failed to show that the pornographic materials had any bearing on the deviant behavior that originally led to his sex crime conviction.

Sufficiency of Affidavit of Violation of Probation

Under Florida law, sex offenders who are sentenced to probation are required to have a prohibition on possessing pornographic materials as a term of their probation. Before October 2014, the law required that the pornographic materials subject to prohibition bear a relationship to the defendant’s pattern of deviant behavior. After October 2014, however, the statute was revised to require the prohibition of any pornographic materials as a term of a sex offender’s probation. As such, anyone placed on probation after October 2014 following a conviction for a sex crime is prohibited from owning any pornographic materials. Notably, however, the statutory modification did not alleviate the earlier provision prohibiting pornographic materials related to the offender’s deviant behavior.

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Individuals charged with a crime in Clearwater have a right to due process under the state and federal constitutions. Due process includes the right to be adequately informed of the basis of any crimes or violations with which a defendant is charged. The right to due process does not end when a defendant is convicted but extends to sentencing hearings and violation of parole proceedings. Recently, a Florida appellate court addressed the due process requirements of probation violation proceedings, in a case in which an order finding a violation was reversed. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a violation of the terms of your probation, it is critical to retain a skilled Clearwater probation violation defense attorney to fight to preclude any evidence the state should not be permitted to introduce at your trial.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with violating three of the terms of his probation. The first violation was for allegedly failing to comply with the requirement that the defendant must report to his probation officer, the second violation was for moving without notifying his probation officer and obtaining his consent, and the third violation was for committing a new criminal offense. A hearing was held after which his probation was revoked, and a sentence was imposed. The defendant appealed, arguing that his right to due process was violated during the hearing.

Due Process in Probation Violation Hearings

In Florida, the right to due process in criminal proceedings extends to cases in which violation of probation cases. To comply with the due process requirements, the probation order must place the probationer on adequate notice of the conduct that is prohibited and required during the probationary period. Additionally, if a violation of probation has allegedly been committed, both the affidavit of the violation and the court’s finding that a violation has been committed must mirror the language of the probation terms. Thus, terms that are not set forth in the conditions of probation cannot form the basis of an alleged violation of probation.
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Under Florida law, juvenile defendants are subject to a different set of rules and standards than adult defendants in the criminal court system. For example, if a juvenile defendant is found to be in violation of a court order, the law allows the defendant to be sentenced to detainment in a secure facility.

A Florida appellate court recently analyzed whether a juvenile’s sentence of 100 days of detainment following violations of a probation order was unlawful. If you are a juvenile resident of Clearwater and are charged with a criminal offense or probation violation, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

Terms of the Defendant’s Probation

Reportedly, the defendant was placed on probation for petit theft and possession of cannabis. The terms of the defendant’s probation required her to live at her mother’s home. While she was on probation, the defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance. During a conference regarding her probation violation, the court issued a “Do Not Run Order.” The order required the defendant to live at her mother’s home and put the defendant on notice that if a rule to show cause was issued a hearing could be held on whether she was guilty of contempt. Further, the order stated that the defendant was on notice that she faced five days for the first day she was on the run, but no more than fifteen days for each subsequent day. Each day on the run was considered a separate contempt offense.

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When a defendant is convicted of a crime there are certain factors that the court can consider when determining an appropriate sentence. For example, a court is not permitted to consider a defendant’s arrest for a subsequent crime when imposing a sentence for the primary offense the defendant was convicted of committing.

A Florida appellate court recently ruled, however, that a trial court is permitted to consider facts underlying a subsequent arrest when considering whether to revoke a convicted felon’s community control.  If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to help you retain your rights.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Criminal History

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to eighteen years in prison followed by two years of community control. Four months after his release to community control the State filed an affidavit alleging the defendant violated his community control. Specifically, he failed to remain in his residence and refused to submit to a urinalysis. The State later amended the affidavit to include allegations that the defendant had recently been arrested for burglary, resisting officers without violence, and drug crimes.

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Florida law sets forth the evidentiary standards that apply in both criminal and civil proceedings. An important rule of evidence that is often invoked is the prohibition of hearsay evidence at a criminal trial. The standards applicable at a criminal trial may not be the same as those that apply at a supervised release revocation hearing, however.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District of Florida recently clarified this issue, in a case where the defendant appealed the revocation of his supervised release, arguing that the state improperly relied on hearsay evidence in obtaining the revocation.  If you are a Clearwater resident currently facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to retain a seasoned Clearwater criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you formulate a defense.

Prior Conviction and Subsequent Alleged Violation 

Allegedly, in 2009, the defendant pled guilty to possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense and was sentenced to 111 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release. His supervised release began in 2016. Approximately one year later, the district attorney sought a warrant for the defendant’s arrest, alleging he violated the terms of his supervised release by committing a multitude of crimes, including aggravated battery.

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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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