Florida Court Discusses Sufficiency of Affidavit of Violation of Probation in Sex Crime Cases

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.

In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant’s offenses were committed after October 2014, and the statutory change was reflected in the terms of his probation. The court clarified that while one of the terms of the defendant’s probation barred him from possessing pornography that bears a relationship to the deviant behavior that lead to his conviction, he was also barred from possessing any pornography at all. The State’s affidavit alleged defendant’s probation was violated however, solely on the alleged violation of the possession of pornography relating to his deviant behavior.

The court noted that it may constitute a violation of due process to revoke a defendant’s probation based on conduct that was not alleged in the State’s affidavit. The court held, however, that when a defendant’s probation is revoked based on an affidavit that does not precisely allege a violation but nonetheless places the defendant on notice of his or her alleged misconduct, the deficiency is harmless. Thus, the court affirmed the revocation of the defendant’s probation.

Meet with an Experienced Clearwater Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you are faced with a charge of committing a sex crime or violating probation following a conviction for a sex crime it is vital to meet with an experienced Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss your rights and what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense.  Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a proficient attorney who will zealously defend you against the State’s charges. Mr. Hanlon can be contacted at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a conference to discuss your case.


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