If you have been accused of violating your probation you may be able to get the matter resolved without more jail time. A violation of probation occurs when a probationer willfully and substantially fails to comply with terms and conditions of his or her probation.
Why Should I Contact a Violation of Probation Lawyer?
The majority of probation violations originate from a few common factual scenarios. These violations include:
- New Criminal Offenses
- Failed Drug Tests
- Failure to Meet Financial Obligations
- Failures to Complete Treatment Programs
- Missed Appointments
The State must prove that you committed a violation that was both willful and substantial. For example, a violation must be a serious violation like a new criminal offense, a failed drug test, failure to meet financial obligations, failure to complete court-ordered programs, and missed appointments. Also, when you make a reasonable effort to comply with a condition of probation, a violation cannot be willful.
New Criminal Offense Violation
The State must present direct evidence linking you to the commission of a new criminal offense. Arrest alone is not an adequate basis for finding a violation of probation. For example, if you are a passenger in a car that gets stopped for a traffic violation and drugs are later found in the vehicle, a judge should not violate your probation if there is no evidence that you knew that the drugs were there.
Failed Drug Test
The State has the burden of proving that an illegal drug was present in your body. A violation cannot be based solely on a probation officer’s testimony regarding laboratory results. For example, if a drug test is not done correctly, or if the probation officer cannot show the judge a valid lab report, the judge should not violate your probation.
Failure to Meet Financial Obligations
Non-payment of court costs, restitution, costs of supervision, fines, costs of drug testing, and other fees is another common basis for violating probation. Before you can be imprisoned for failure to pay there must be a determination that you have the ability to pay and that you have willfully refused to do so. For example, if you do not have a job or any income you do not have the ability to pay. A judge should not violate your probation because you did not pay if you do not have the money and cannot pay.
Failure to Complete Treatment Programs
When the state tries to revoke your probation because of failure to successfully complete a rehabilitation program, some evidence must be submitted to show that you were in some manner responsible for the failure. For example, as long as you attend the program and follow rules, the judge should not violate your probation because you did not complete the program through no fault of your own.
A single missed appointment with a probation officer, where a valid explanation is offered, is insufficient to demonstrate willful and substantial noncompliance with probation. For example, if you missed an appointment because of a storm, or if you are late because of a bad traffic accident on the interstate, the judge should not violate your probation because the violation is not willful or substantial.
If you are on probation and the State files an affidavit of violation against you, it is important that you discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to learn about your rights and options. The laws governing violation of probation in Florida are complex. If you have been accused of a violation of probation in the Tampa Bay area, you may need the assistance of an attorney to contest the affidavit, minimize potential penalties and get a favorable resolution. The attorneys at Fernandez and Hernandez have experience defending violations of probation and will work vigorously to protect your rights, and in many cases, may be able to prevent a violation of probation or resolve the matter without incarceration.
If you or a loved one need legal assistance with a probation violation call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813 229-5353.