Violations of Probation (VOP)
A person can be placed on county probation for up to one year for a misdemeanor and up to life for a felony, depending on the level of the offense. Probation can carry both standard conditions, such as reporting, payment of fees, and refraining from committing new offenses, and special conditions, such as drug treatment, community service, or payment of restitution. Community Control is a stricter form of probation in which the probationer is confined to his or her residence during certain hours, up to the entire day. If an individual does not comply with the terms and conditions of probation or community control, the probation officer will submit a report to the sentencing judge who determines whether to schedule a reprimand hearing or whether to instead sign a warrant for a violation of probation. A reprimand hearing is an formal hearing where the judge sternly warns the defendant to correct the behavior, else suffer future consequences. In the vast majority of cases, however, the judge will sign a warrant and, when served on the probationer, a hearing will be scheduled. A violation of probation warrant may have a monetary bond or may be a no bond warrant, and the probationer will remain in custody until the violation is addressed. If you believe that you are at risk of being violated on probation, you should contact Mr. Glassman immediately. He will be able to contact your probation officer to see if the issue can be addressed without involving the court, and he may be able to motion your case into court so that you can address the issue with the judge prior to the execution of any warrant.
After a person is served with a violation of probation or community control warrant, a first violation hearing will be scheduled. On that date, the State Attorney and the probationer will receive a copy of the allegations that form the basis for the violation and a report on the overall performance of the individual during the period of probation. The probation officer will also make a suggestion as to an appropriate resolution for the violation. A judge has broad discretion to determine what an appropriate sentence will be. The probationer could be sentenced to jail, prison, a more stringent form of probation, an extension of probation, or a simple reinstatement of probation. At a first hearing, Mr. Glassman can review the report and negotiate with the State Attorney and judge in your case to attempt to quickly and amicably resolve the violation.
If the parties cannot arrive at an amicable resolution of the violation, the court will schedule a final hearing on the violation of probation. This hearing is a trial in which the State Attorney will attempt to prove the allegations in the violation warrant. Unlike a criminal charge, however, the probationer not entitled to many of the rights that a criminal defendant would enjoy. For example, hearsay is widely admissible in the final violation hearing, the hearing is in front of a judge and not a jury, and the burden of proof that the State Attorney must meet is merely preponderance of the evidence and not proof beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. Final violation hearings are, therefore, difficult for a probationer to win unless the probationer retains an attorney like Mr. Glassman who will diligently prepare for the hearing and fight the State Attorney on every last aspect of the case.
- Florida Statute 948.06, Violation of Probation or Community Control
- Office of Community Corrections, Florida Department of Corrections
Recent Appellate Cases
- Willis v. State, 141 So.3d 611 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) – In order for a judge to find a violation of probation on failure to pay monetary obligations, the State Attorney has the burden of proving that the probationer willfully failed to pay despite having the ability to pay.
- Shultz v. State, 136 So.3d 1232 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014) – The “law of the case” doctrine does not bar ordering a re-sentencing when an individual is unlawfully sentenced to 99 years of incarceration for violating a conditions of probation when the individual was sentenced as a youthful offender, as that would be a “manifest injustice”.
- Potts v. State, 133 So.3d 602 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) – A sentencing court cannot later amend a probationary sentence to add additional conditions without a violation of probation hearing giving the offender an opportunity to be heard.
- Former Probation Officer Helps Teach Youth How to Stay out of Prison, Broward Palm Beach New Times
- Probation Officer Training Funds Not Dedicated to Training, WTSP 10 News
- Florida DOC Embraces Transformative Rehabilitation, Sun Sentinel