Violating Your Probation – What it Can Cost You

Many people think that being sentenced to probation rather than jail time is a huge relief. While in their state of relief, they may not take the time to learn what exactly they are required to do and not do during the probation period. It is vital to understand conditions of your probation to ensure you don’t violate any of those conditions, considering that violation of probation is such a serious situation.

Standard Conditions of Probation in Florida

Although each probation sentence may have different conditions, most sentences share some common conditions in the state of Florida. The following are some of the common probation conditions:

  • Paying a statutory fee each month to cover the cost of your supervision;
  • Informing your probation officer before you change your residence or job;
  • Not owning or possessing any firearm;
  • Not possessing illegal drugs or drinking alcohol in excess;
  • Reporting to your probation officer at specific times as directed; and
  • Not violate any law.

Types of Violations

Probation violations are generally classified into two categories: technical violations and substantive violations. A technical violation involves breaking any of the specific conditions laid out in your probation. For example, if you were ordered by your judge to pay court fines or attend a rehabilitation course but failed to do so, your failure would constitute a technical violation of probation. Substantive violations, on the other hand, happen when someone on probation commits a new crime.

What Happens When You Violate Any of those Conditions

If your probation officer obtains reasonable grounds to believe that you have violated your probation, they have the authority to arrest you on the spot or instruct or any other law enforcement officer to arrest you. Alternatively, if your judge learns of the reasonable grounds that you have violated your probation, that judge can issue a warrant for your arrest.

After an arrest, any technical or substantive violation of probation will likely lead to a probation hearing. This hearing is very different than general criminal proceedings. You do not have a right to a jury when you violate your probation, you have no right to bond out while awaiting the hearing, you can be forced to testify against yourself during the proceeding, and the State only needs to prove that you violated your probation by a preponderance of evidence –a lower standard of proof than the burden in your original criminal trial. In other words, the State need only show that you more likely than not violated your probation.

If you are found to have violated your probation during the hearing, your probation may be extended, you may have additional conditions added to your probation, your probation period may be revoked, or you may be sentenced to spend time in jail.

If you have violated your probation or know someone else who has, contact the experienced West Palm Beach criminal law attorneys at Farkas & Crowley immediately. The consequences of violating your probation are serious and should be not ignored.