Homeless Florida Man Sent to Prison for Failing to Check in with Probation Officer

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.

Affirming the lower court’s ruling on appeal, the Third District agreed with Defendant that the prosecutors didn’t prove all of the alleged probation violations. Specifically, the prosecutors admitted that they didn’t provide any evidence regarding Defendant’s second grand theft charge. The court also said there wasn’t enough evidence to show that Defendant stole a cell phone from a local restaurant as part of the first grand theft case.

But there was sufficient evidence regarding the other alleged violations, the court said. It noted that those violations, including failing to report, absconding from probation and committing theft while on probation, “were substantial” and that they represented Defendant’s second set of probation violations since his release.

“The trial court’s determination that the defendant willfully and substantially violated his probation is supported by the record,” the court said.

The court observed that Defendant was homeless when he was released from prison. It found, however, that he violated the terms of his probation by failing to adequately check in with his probation officer and keep the officer apprised of his whereabouts.

“Although we recognize that a homeless probationer may find it challenging to report to his probation officer as directed, homelessness alone does not justify or excuse a probationer’s failure to report,” the court said.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced defense lawyer. Clearwater criminal defense attorney Will Hanlon is a seasoned lawyer who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of crimes. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.

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