Articles Posted in Probation Violation

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.Legal News Gavel

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.

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.

Legal News GavelDefendant 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.

Continue Reading

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.

Legal News GavelThe 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.

Continue Reading

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.

Legal News Gavel
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.