Florida courts often give someone convicted of a crime the probation or community control instead of jail time. Probation is granted with the understanding that the convicted person will abide by the terms and requirements of the court, and in Florida, these can often be strict. For example, probation for drug offenders may include:
- Close contact with a probation officer
- Mandatory drug treatment program
- Random drug testing
If you are found to be in possession of drugs during this period, you will be charged with a violation of probation (VOP). A warrant for your arrest is issued. The court then decides to revoke, modify, or continue your probation.
At a VOP hearing, you do not have the same legal rights as you did during your criminal trial. Your case will not come before a jury again; the judge makes the final decision. You cannot refuse to testify. The state does not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of evidence.
This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side who can explore all possible defenses, and argue for the best solution to help you move forward. And the sooner you contact an attorney after your VOP, the better.
A VOP does not have to end with an automatic prison or county jail sentence. The Byrd Law Firm has helped many clients get continued or modified probation instead of jailtime.