Gainesville Criminal Lawyers Explain Probation Violations
You might assume that a sentence of probation means your case is over, and you are free to walk out of the courtroom and get on with your life. Not so. While on probation, you remain under the jurisdiction (control) of the court, and you are expected to comply fully and completely with every term and condition of probation imposed by the judge. Failure to do so will have serious consequences. If you have violated (or worry that you may have violated) the terms of your probation, our Gainesville criminal lawyers can help.
What is a Violation of Probation?
There are two categories of probation violations in Florida:
- If you commit a crime while on probation, that is a substantive violation.
- If you fail to comply with a term of your probation, that is a technical violation. If, for example, you miss an appointment with your probation officer or fail to complete your required community service, you have committed a technical violation.
What Happens if I Violate Probation?
You may be arrested, with or without a warrant, whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe you have violated your probation in a material way. Upon arrest, you will be taken into custody and held (generally, without bond) until your appearance before a judge.
At this first court appearance, if you admit the violation, the judge will impose a sentence. If you deny the violation, the judge will schedule a hearing (known as a Violation of Probation or “VOP” Hearing), at which time our Gainesville criminal lawyers can present evidence in your defense.
There are key differences between a VOP hearing and a trial, including:
- No jury. The prosecutor has to convince just one person – the judge – that you violated probation.
- One violation is enough. You may be accused of multiple probation violations, but the prosecutor only needs to prove one in order for the judge to find you have violated your probation.
- Lower burden of proof. The prosecutor has to prove the violation by a “preponderance of evidence,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means the prosecutor only has to show that it is “more likely than not” that you committed the alleged violation
- No right to remain silent. You may be compelled to testify and answer questions at the hearing.
What are the Consequences of a Violation?
If the judge determines you have violated probation, he can reinstate, modify or revoke your probation. If your probation is revoked, the judge may impose any sentence he might have imposed for the underlying crime. Thus, if you were sentenced to probation for a third-degree felony (e.g., aggravated assault), the judge may sentence you to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for violating probation (the maximum allowable sentence for a third-degree felony).
If you have concerns about a possible probation violation, a Gainesville criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Richard Mercure, PA – RPM Law can help. We will work to expedite your hearing and help you tell your side of the story to the prosecutor and the judge. Call us directly, at (352) 222-2047, to schedule a free, confidential consultation.