Many times a person convicted of a crime is not sent directly to prison but given a “second chance” and instead granted probation by the court. Courts are bound to follow the Florida statute that governs probation, so if you’re on probation, you need to adhere to the following rules:
- Never miss an appointment with your probation officer.
- Live a law-abiding life.
- Provide your residence address to your probation officer and don’t move without the probation officer’s prior permission.
- Seek and maintain gainful employment.
- Make restitution as directed by the court or probation officer.
- Permit searches of your home or other places you frequent by your probation officer upon request.
- As best you can, support your family.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing where appropriate.
- Pay assessed debts, fees and costs.
- Stay away from anyone involved in criminal activity.
- Don’t possess, carry or own a firearm.
- Don’t have any other weapon without first getting permission from your probation officer.
- Don’t possess, use or be around illegal drugs or use legal intoxicants to excess.
- Submit to blood tests or other biological specimens your probation officer requests and allow the taking of a digital photograph.
In addition to these standard terms of probation, the court can order any other conditions that are reasonably related to the crime for which the probationer was convicted. For example, if your crime was related to drug abuse, you can be ordered to enter and complete a long-term drug treatment program. Additional conditions might include house arrest, travel restrictions, community service hours, wearing an electronic monitor or other conditions the court deems necessary.
The two ways to have your probation revoked and end up in prison for the full term of your original sentence is to violate any of the probation conditions set by the court or to commit a new crime. Something as simple as missing an appointment with your probation officer or having an open container of beer is sufficient to trigger a probation violation filing.
What happens in a probation violation proceeding?
The prosecutor has the burden of proving your probation violation at a hearing. This hearing differs from a criminal trial in that the prosecutor’s burden of proof is far lighter and there is no jury. The judge alone decides whether or not you violated your probation. Furthermore, unlike a criminal trial, hearsay testimony is permitted. This means that something someone said about you is presented to the court and you cannot cross-examine that person.
If you are facing a probation violation in Sarasota County, you need a resourceful and aggressive probation violation attorney familiar with the criminal justice system who can represent your best interests before the court and the probation department.