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;
- 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.