Probation Violations

A Violation of Probation [VOP] or a Violation of Community Control [VOCC] is a serious situation. A person facing a violation of probation faces going to jail or prison up to the maximum he or she could have been originally sentenced to for the offense charged.

Violation Must Be Willful – Not by Mistake

The State must establish that you willfully violated your probation or community control. It cannot be due to mistake or being unaware of the consequences of an act. Although the standard of proof necessary to establish a violation is lower than at the trial level, technical violations do have the defense of I didn’t know. See Garity v. State, 970 So.2d 500 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

Consequences of Violations of Probation/Community Control

Once the prosecutor has convinced the court that you willfully violated your probation or community control, then the court can sentence you up to the maximum time the law allows. Violating any conditions set at sentencing can result in you being incarcerated, including these:

  • Not filing a monthly report (absconding).
  • Moving from residence without notifying your supervision officer.
  • Use of intoxicants in excess (as evidenced by a positive or dirty urinalysis).
  • Committing some illegal behavior (as evidenced by a dirty urinalysis or new arrest).
  • Committing a new criminal act (getting arrested).

If you have violated your felony probation you WILL have to turn yourself in at some point to resolve this. It looks A LOT better to voluntarily turn yourself in than it does to have been picked up by the police when we are at your hearing trying to resolve this without more jail.

Common Mistakes While On Probation

The most important thing to remember is, even if you believe you will be violated, always report to your probation officer as scheduled. Being afraid that you will be violated is not a defense to not reporting. If you have been arrested you must truthfully fill out your monthly report. Failing to report and/or lying on your monthly report are sure ways to being found in violation of your probation.

There is absolutely no excuse for failing to report to your probation or community control officer and there is a corresponding lack of defense. Fear of being arrested is no excuse either. If you physically cannot report you must contact your probation officer immediately or as soon as possible with an explanation.

Falsifying a monthly report is also a quick way to be found in violation and sentenced to incarceration. If you falsify a monthly report it will be only a matter of time before you are violated. Advice: Always fill out monthly reports truthfully.

Early Termination of Probation in Central Florida

You already know what a burden it is to be on probation or community control in Florida. The best way to get out from under that rock is to early terminate your probation as soon as possible. For early termination most Courts will require that you complete half your time.

Early Termination of Community Control

Community control is rarely terminated completely. Usually it is converted to regular probation for the remainder of the time you were ordered to serve.

– STEP 1: Comply With All Conditions of Probation / Community Control

The first thing you must do is complete all the special conditions of probation? Your probation officer may suggest early terminating probation once you have completed all of these and paid all your court costs so long as you have not been previously violated.

– STEP 2: Make it to the Mid-Way Point of Your Probationary Term

Most judges will not early terminate your probation before the halfway point. This is not a rule or law, it just happens to be common practice.

– STEP 3: Early Terminate Probation As Soon As Possible

As soon as all special conditions of probation or community control have been completed and half the term is done you should immediately move the court to terminate your probation or community control. Why?

  • Remove the probationer from any future sanctions.
  • Stop the outflow of money and expenses associated with probation.
  • Remove all restrictions on movement and travel.
  • Remove barriers to employment.

Remaining on probation or community control runs the risk of you violating your probation for a technical violation (a violation other than a new law offense). This can be something trivial and defendable but a violation will put you in jail without a bond (for felonies) while you wait for your hearing.