| Read Time: 5 minutes | Probation Violation

How Much Jail Time Could I Get for Violating My Probation?

Probation is an alternative to incarceration. In other words, a judge will sometimes sentence you to probation instead of sentencing you to jail or prison. Probation typically involves regular meetings with a probation officer as well as compliance with certain terms of probation. If you violate probation, incarceration could be the result.  What Happens If Florida Accuses You of Violating Probation: The Procedure If your probation officer thinks you’ve violated your probation, they’ll probably initiate the probation violation procedure by submitting an Affidavit of Violation of Probation to the court. This is a sworn statement by the probation officer stating that they have a reasonable belief that you violated your probation. The court will review the Affidavit and determine whether it has merit. If it does, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.  Your Rights In a probation violation proceeding, you will face a serious diminution of the rights that you enjoy in a criminal trial, including the following: You have no right to a jury trial for probation violation. The judge will decide both your guilt or innocence and your penalty.  The judge is much more likely to deny bail while you wait for your probation violation hearing—especially if your probation arose out of a felony charge.  The court will use the much lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard instead of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials. This makes it much easier to find you guilty of violating your probation. The prosecution can use hearsay evidence against you. There is no statute of limitations on a probation violation. You are not safe no matter how much time passes. You have no right to “take the fifth.” In other words, you can be compelled to answer questions at the hearing even if the answers would incriminate you. Your progress towards the end of your probation period stops while probation violation proceedings are pending. In other words, probation violation charges stop the clock on your probation period until they resolve. All of the foregoing factors make it much easier for a court to find you guilty of a probation violation than to convict you of a crime. Plea Bargaining If your probation violation consisted of the commission of a new crime, you would likely resolve your case through plea bargaining. A plea bargain can resolve both charges, the old and the new, with one plea and one sentencing. How Much Jail Time Do You Get for Violating Probation? How much jail time applies for violation of probation? The short answer is that this decision depends on a number of factors that vary from person to person. Probation violation jail time can vary from none at all to years or even decades. In the case of a felony probation violation, jail time is proportionate to the length of the possible sentence for the original charge. The more serious the underlying offense, the more likely you will face years of jail time. But prison is not the only option. If the judge finds you guilty of violating probation, they have several options to choose from for sentencing. Continuation of Probation on the Same Terms When a judge simply continues probation, they are choosing not to impose any penalties for your violation. Probation continues on the same terms as before, despite the probation violation. Such leniency does not occur all that frequently. When it happens, the only punishment is a stern lecture from the judge. Modification of Probation Modification of probation is a popular remedy for a probation violation. The judge essentially modifies the terms of probation to make them harsher penalties than the original terms. Increasing the harshness of your probationary terms serves as your punishment for the violation. The judge might require closer supervision, add terms to the probation, extend the number of community service hours, or lengthen the period of probation. First-time low-risk violation of probation If you committed a first-time, low-risk probation violation and you do not qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern, the court must modify or continue probation. It cannot revoke your probation and send you back to jail to serve the remainder of your sentence. A court can, however, modify your probation and sentence you to up to 90 days in jail. Revocation of Probation In a worst-case scenario, the judge can revoke your probation, which means you will probably go to jail or prison. As mentioned above, a judge cannot revoke probation for minor probation violations.  If your initial offense was not serious enough to warrant incarceration, you might even be able to avoid incarceration despite revocation. Revocation is the most common remedy when someone violates probation by committing a new crime. When a court revokes your probation, the judge can: Sentence you to the full incarceration period that they suspended when they placed you on probation instead; or If the court finds you to be a danger to the community, or if you qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern, Florida allows a court to incarcerate you for the maximum period available for your underlying criminal charge. In a worst-case scenario, this could mean decades in prison. Special Case: Committing a New Crime While on Probation    If Florida charges you with a new crime while you are on probation, you have two new problems. First, Florida will have to resolve the new crime either at trial or through plea bargaining.  Second, the new crime will become the basis of a probation violation charge against you. In some cases, this will be enough to classify you as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern. In a worst-case scenario, you could end up going to jail or prison for two consecutive terms of incarceration—one for the original charge and one for the new crime that violated your probation.   Defenses Some common defenses against probation violation charges include: The offense was a non-criminal traffic infraction; You were unaware of the presence of illegal drugs on your shared...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Probation Violation

12 FAQs About Probation in Florida

Being on probation in Florida is like walking a tightrope. One slip could be catastrophic because it could result in incarceration. It may not be as restrictive as being in prison, but make no mistake—your actions and freedoms are significantly curtailed while you are on probation. It is certainly better than being in jail or prison, but if you don’t want to eventually end up incarcerated you need to strictly adhere to your probationary rules and restrictions. If you have been sentenced to probation in Florida, or if you are seeking probation as an alternative to incarceration, there are some things you need to know. What Is Probation in Florida? How Does It Work? Probation in Florida is a form of court-ordered supervision that does not require you to remain in jail, prison, or on house arrest (in most cases). Instead, your probation involves supervision by your probation officer and includes many rules you must follow and tasks you must complete. You must be very diligent and comply with each and every condition placed upon you to maintain your probationary status and remain free. If you violate any condition, you will likely end up in jail.  How Many People Are on Probation in Florida? Nearly 150,000 people are on probation in Florida. That is almost twice the number of people currently incarcerated. What’s It Like to Be on Probation? Probation typically lasts a long time in Florida. In fact, the average length of probation ranges from three to 15 years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. You can expect probation to be burdensome, expensive, and nerve-racking (since the specter of incarceration constantly looms over you). Losing your job could threaten your freedom. And even if you manage to keep your job, it might yield barely enough money to meet your offense-related financial obligations such as the cost of probationary supervision, fines, court costs, and restitution. Put simply, probation certainly beats incarceration—but it is no walk in the park. What Are the Different Types of Probation? The major forms of probation in Florida include: Standard Probation: You must obey standard terms of probation (see below) and report to your probation officer on a regular basis. Administrative Probation: Administrative probation is a more lenient form of probation that imposes standard conditions but does not require you to regularly meet with a probation officer. Drug Offender Probation: Drug offenders must typically submit to standard probationary rules, any specific conditions the judge ordered, and you must almost always complete a substance abuse program and submit to random drug tests. Sex Offender Probation: Sex offenders put on probation must also submit to standard probationary rules, complete any other conditions set out by the judge, and complete a sex offender treatment program under the supervision of a special probation officer. Community Control: “Community control” essentially means house arrest where you are incarcerated within your own home. If you are placed on community control, you will be under continuously supervised custody. We can help you convince the judge to grant you the type of probation that will be the least burdensome upon you.  What Are the Typical Florida Probation Rules? Florida Statutes Section 948.03 sets forth the standard terms and conditions of probation. Although the court can add details and modify these conditions somewhat, the basic terms include: Regularly reporting to your probation officer; Allowing your probation officer to visit your home, your place of employment, and other places that you frequent; Keeping a job during your period of probation; Paying restitution to anyone you harmed by your crime; Financially supporting your dependents; Remaining within a particular area specified by the court (the state, your county, your city, etc.); Refraining from committing any new offenses—i.e., don’t break the law; Not using any controlled substances unless a doctor prescribed them to you for medical reasons; Refraining from associating with anyone involved in criminal activity, even old friends; Submitting to random drug and alcohol testing; and Not possessing or using any firearms. The court may impose additional conditions as well. What Are the Typical Florida Felony Probation Rules? Since a felony is more serious than a misdemeanor, the terms of felony probation are usually stricter and supervision is more intense than misdemeanor probation. You will probably have to visit your probation officer more frequently. The court is also more likely to require you to complete a stringent rehabilitation program (an anger management course or a drug rehabilitation program, for example). You will still have to pay fines, court costs, and restitution. The judge may impose a requirement to do community service regardless of the level of your offense, but typically, felony offenses carry a higher number of community service hours. You will also have to comply with the same restrictions as misdemeanor offenders, such as keeping a job.  What Is the Difference Between Parole and Probation? Essentially, probation is a sentencing alternative to incarceration while parole is an early release from incarceration. So probation is used instead of incarceration, whereas parole happens after a period of incarceration if a parole board agrees to release you early. However, parole is almost never granted in Florida, due to legislative changes that took place in 1983. When Can I Receive Probation Instead of Incarceration? As long as you are eligible, Florida probation laws give judges the discretion to place you in jail or to put you on probation. A skilled lawyer is an invaluable asset under these circumstances. We have convinced many judges to sentence our clients to probation rather than jail time. Some serious crimes, however, do not allow for probation. Do I Have the Right to a Jury Trial for a Probation Violation? Unfortunately, no. If you violate a term of your probation you do not have the right to a jury trial to determine if you actually are in violation. Instead, the judge makes that decision. In addition, the prosecution does not have to prove your violation beyond a reasonable doubt. All they need is a “preponderance of the...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Probation Violation

My First Probation Violation—What Am I Facing?

If you have been charged with a probation violation, you may be wondering what to do from here. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Moses & Rooth to challenge your probation violation today: 407-449-1538 Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States receive probation sentences.  A failure to comply with the conditions of your probation will result in a probation violation. The consequences of violating probation depend on several factors.  What Is Probation? Florida law defines probation as a form of community supervision requiring specified meetings or contacts with probation officers and other terms and conditions. In Florida, there are five types of probation. Straight Supervised Probation Straight supervised probation is traditional probation. Under this type of probation, a defendant must obey the terms and conditions of their probation and meet with their probation officer on a regular basis. Administrative Probation As with traditional probation, a defendant under administrative probation must obey the terms and conditions of their probation. However, the defendant need not meet with a probation officer regularly. Community Control Community control refers to supervised custody. This often includes wearing an ankle monitor and being subject to a curfew.  Community control probation severely restricts a defendant’s movement. Thus, the defendant must follow a strict schedule and can have his or her probation revoked for a failure to do so.  Drug Offender Probation Drug offender probation requires the defendant to follow a drug treatment plan with strict supervision. While on drug offender probation, the defendant must also submit to random drug tests.  Common Probation Violations Many are familiar with the concept of probation. However, many people are unaware of the consequences if you violate probation.  Probationary sentences include numerous rules and regulations, all of which the defendant must follow to comply with the court’s order. What constitutes a violation varies among each individual sentence.  Generally, a failure to comply with probation guidelines in any way amounts to a violation. Some of the most common probation violations include: Failure to pay probations fines; Failure to appear for court dates; Committing additional crimes; Possession of illegal drugs; Leaving the state without authorization; Failure to meet with your probation officer as required; Failure to complete required community services; and Violation of curfew. Failure to comply with your probation requirements can result in severe repercussions. If you are in violation of your probation, contact Moses & Rooth today to discuss your options. First Violation of Probation: Penalty Overview A probation violation is a serious matter. The violation can result in prison time, additional charges, or even an extended probationary sentence.  A probation officer that suspects a violation of probation has occurred will file a Violation of Probation Affidavit with the court. This document explains to the judge what information the probation officer has that made him or her believe the probation conditions were violated. The probation officer will also provide the judge with a recommendation for a sentence. If the judge finds reasonable grounds to believe the probation sentence has been violated, he or she can issue a warrant for the probationer’s arrest. Unlike in a normal arrest, a person accused of violating probation is not entitled to a bond. This means you will be held in custody until you can appear in front of the judge. Being Held Without Bond Even if the judge does not set a bond, an attorney can file a motion to request a bond hearing and argue that in your situation, a bond should be set.  We can provide the court with any required documentation to illustrate why you should be released. This may include proof of completed community service hours, letters of recommendation, or in-person testimony from your community members.  Sentencing for Your Probation Violation Eventually, you will have to go in front of the judge for sentencing on your probation violation. The judge will typically consider the reason for the alleged probation violation, the recommendation of the probation officer, the original charges, and the criminal history of the defendant.  This is your opportunity to explain the reason for your probation violation. A criminal defense attorney can assist in preparing and presenting this testimony in the manner most helpful to your case.  How Will I Be Sentenced After My Probation Violation? Judges have very wide discretion in sentencing defendants who violate probation. After you give your side of the story to the court, the judge will make a determination as to the consequences, if any, you will face.  For minor violations, the court may determine that your probationary sentence will proceed as initially planned. This is especially likely if it is your first probation violation. However, the judge has the power to enhance your sentence. The judge may also modify the terms of your probation or even revoke your probation entirely. This could mean prison time.  Remember, the judge has full authority for this decision. Decisions on probation violations can range widely due to the discretionary nature of the sentencing.  Talk to An Orlando Probation Violation Attorney Today If you were arrested for a probation violation, do not hesitate to reach out to Moses & Rooth. Whether or not it’s your first probation violation, we understand how devastating this can be. Our team of attorneys has over 20 years of combined experience in criminal defense law. Thus, we have handled almost every situation you can imagine. We will defend your rights every step of the way. As former prosecutors, we know how the other side handles probation violations. This expertise will be invaluable in defending your probation violation.  Having an attorney in your corner to challenge your probation violation and prepare evidence in your defense is critical to a favorable resolution in your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation, and see how we can help.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Understanding Expungements and Sealed Records

When we are young, we tend to be wild and free. Most youth do not question nor consider the impact of that their actions presently will have on their future. However, youthful bliss and its carefree nature can leave you with life altering consequences. For instance when you are arrested and/or charged with a crime you will have a criminal record. Criminal records follow you a lifetime, and often times are the reason you are turned down from job opportunities, housing, as well as professional licensing. Though you may be frustrated or even feeling like you cannot progress in life because of your criminal record, there may still be hope. If you or a loved one have been unable to progress in life because of your criminal record contact an experienced Florida expungement attorney today to consult about your record. Expungements vs. Sealed Records in Florida Those who have a criminal record know how hard it is to get jobs and even housing and though this can be frustrating, options do exist. In Florida, you have the right to have your criminal record expunged or sealed. Expungements are governed by Florida Statute Section 943.0585 , while sealed records are governed by Florida Statute Section 943.059. Though you may think differently, expungements and sealed records are not the same thing and depending on which one you receive determines who can see your criminal record and who cannot. If your criminal record has been dismissed, if the charges were dropped or if there was no information filed then you may be eligible to get your record expunged, meaning the court will order the clerk, the arresting agency and FDLE to destroy the arrest records. This can be extremely beneficial to you because it should appear that your past actions never happened at all. When your record is sealed, the public, such as landlords and employers, do not have access to your record but governmental agencies will have access to it. It is important to note, that if you have previously had your record expunged or sealed, whether in Florida or another state, you will not be eligible for another expungement or seal. Though expungement and seal laws may seem straightforward, it can become quite complicated; therefore, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice. Need Legal Advice? Having a criminal record could make your life more difficult when you are maturing and progressing in life. Criminal records can keep you from getting a job, obtaining housing, as well as keep you from your inherent rights such as voting or owning a firearm. Frustrating as it may be, you have options. If you or a loved one would like your criminal record expunged or sealed, it is best to speak with an attorney about your case. Contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 for an initial consultation.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Probation Violation

Understanding Probation Violation in Florida

In Florida, a probation violation happens when a criminal defendant willfully violates the condition of his or her probation. Probation proceedings are different than ordinary criminal cases. They have a lower standard of proof and do not have the same procedural and constitutional protections a defendant will have in a regular criminal prosecution. If you have violated your probation this article will help you understand the different types of probation and probation violations. Types of Probation There are several different type of probation in the state of Florida: Probation: The defendant must obey the terms of his or her probation and have regular contact with a probation officer. Administrative Probation: The defendant is on probation but does not have to meet regularly with a probation officer. Community Control: The defendant is under supervised custody and his or her freedom is extremely restricted. They must fill out a schedule every week and abide by that schedule. A failure to abide by that schedule may result in a warrant being issued. Sex Offender Probation: The defendant must follow a treatment plan and is under tight supervision. Drug Offender Probation: The defendant receives drug treatment, drug testing, and is under strict supervision. Probation Violators Have Less Protection A probation violation proceeding is different than being charged with a new crime. This is because you have already been sentenced to probation. This means you have less legal protection than if you were charged with a new crime. For example: There is no statute of limitation on your probation violation; There is no right to bond while awaiting a hearing; You do not have a right to a jury trial; There is no possibility of a bond if you fall under Florida’s Anti-Murder Act, Hearsay is admissible evidence; Your may be forced to testify against yourself; and The prosecution must prove guilty with a “preponderance of the evidence,” a lower burden of proof. Ways to Violate Your Probation When you are placed on probation, you will be advised of the conditions of your probation by a judge or a probation officer. If you violate the conditions of your probation, you are at risk of violating your probation. There are two types of probation violations: Technical Violation: A technical violation is the violation of the conditions of your parole. You can commit this type of violation by failing to pay court fines/fees, skipping a probation meeting, arriving late to a probation meeting, failing to complete court ordered classes or moving your residence without permission. New-Law Violation: New law violations, or substantive violations, happen when you commit a new criminal offense. If the new criminal charge is dropped, a prosecutor may still attempt to prosecute you for probation violation. What are the Penalties for Violation Probation? If you violate the conditions of your probation a Florida judge has three options under the law: Reinstating your probation; Modifying your probation; or Revoking your probation and issuing a new sentence Under Florida law if a judge revokes your probation, he or she may impose the maximum penalty for the original charge for which you were placed on probation. Let an Attorney Help You with Probation Violation It is easier for the state to prove and punish you for a probation violation. If you have violated your parole, then you need to seek legal help. Let Moses & Rooth help you. We can guide you through a probation violation defense and seek the best outcome for you. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150, so that we can discuss your defense.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Understanding Your Probation Term in Florida

If you have been charged with a crime, one of the best outcomes you can hope for is a term of probation in lieu of jail time. Unfortunately, the terms of your probation may be complicated and one misstep may compromise your eligibility to remain on probation. Understanding your responsibilities during a probationary period as well as what to do if you think you may lose your probationary status is critical to ensuring compliance with your probation requirements in Florida. Eligibility and Terms of Probation Not everyone is eligible for probation. First-time offenders, offenders convicted of misdemeanors and lower-level non-violent felonies may be eligible for probation. Once a probationary sentence is determined, the specific terms are decided by the court. The terms will vary depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime, the offender’s criminal history, and other considerations including family, employment, and residency. Probation-eligible offenders will be assigned a probation officer, with whom the offender will likely be required to meet with frequently. Some additional conditions for probation may include: Reporting to family agencies or social services; Victim restitution; Substance abuse or mental health treatment programs; Residency requirements; Curfew; Staying away from alcohol/drug consumption (even if the offender is not participating); Relinquishing firearms or certain other weapons; and Submitting to drug/alcohol testing. Reporting requirements will vary, but some programs will require daily reporting for the first part of a probationary sentence, though the frequency may lessen over time. Missing even one meeting with your probation officer may cause you to lose your probation status or increase the frequency of meetings. Losing Probation Status The easiest way to lose your probation status is to fail to comply with routine meetings with probation officers or to commit another crime. Missing a probationary meeting or a new law criminal offense may result in a formal violation of probation warrant being issued. If an officer believes an offender has violated probation, the offender can be arrested without warrant. The offender has a right at the first court hearing to be informed of the alleged violations, but may be held or released on bail depending on the circumstances. The termination of a probationary period may affect the disposition of the underlying crime and will almost certainly affect the offender’s ability to qualify for probation for any subsequent offenses. Orlando Probation Criminal Defense Attorneys Probation is a privilege, not a right. Making sure that you remain in compliance with the terms of your probation is instrumental in ensuring you remain eligible for probation. If you or anyone you know is having your probation sentence threatened, or if you are faced with a criminal charge where probation is an option, you need experienced probation criminal defense attorneys on your side. At Moses & Rooth, our attorneys have seen both sides of the criminal justice system; as former prosecutors, we know how to work with prosecutors to ensure the most favorable outcome for our clients. If you have any questions about your rights or responsibilities while under probation, contact our Orlando office today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

I Was Arrested For Violating Probation; Now What?

There are many reasons someone can be arrested for violating probation. It’s important if you have been arrested for a probation violation that you seek legal representation immediately. If you have been arrested for a probation violation, the experienced probation violation defense attorneys at Moses and Rooth can help you avoid further jail time. Ways to Violate Parole Under Florida Statute 948.03, the court will determine the terms and conditions of parole. There are many ways a person can violate their parole. Parole violations include: Missing a required court date; Missing a meeting with a probation officer; Not paying a fine or restitution ordered by the court; Having contact with certain people or places; Traveling out of state without prior consent by a probation officer or the court; Not adhering to the restrictions of home arrest or an ankle monitor; Failing a drug test; Missing ordered community service; or Committing a new misdemeanor or felony. What Will Happen if Arrested for a Probation Violation? Under Florida Statute 948.06, if a violation of probation is filed, a trial judge can issue a warrant for arrest or if a new qualifying crime has not been committed the judge may issue a notice to appear. Once an accused violator is arrested or appears, a bond hearing may be set. It is important to have an experienced probation violation defense attorney at the bond hearing who will fight to keep you out of jail. Consequences if Found Guilty of Violating Probation If a person admits to violating probation or a judge determines that probation was violated, the judge may order the probation to be revoked or modified, the violator to be placed in community control, or be given additional sentencing. A judge may order the maximum sentencing allowed under the original crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend you on the new charge and on the parole violation charge. Defenses to Probation Violations The prosecutor only has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a probation violation has occurred. There are certain violations that may be hard for the prosecutor to prove and that an experienced probation defense attorney can work to dismiss, such as when a person is accused of associating with a person they were ordered to avoid. Probation may be reinstated by the violator agreeing to attend treatment or counseling, such as a drug or alcohol treatment program. Probation violations can have severe consequences. If found guilty of violating parole you may end up serving the original jail time avoided by probation and may even have to serve additional prison time if convicted of a new crime. If you have been accused of violating parole, contact an experienced probation violation defense attorney at Moses and Rooth to represent you at the bond hearing and to defend you against any probation violation or new criminal charges.

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