Sarasota Probation Violation Lawyer
In Florida, the stakes are high dealing with a probation violation or a violation of community control. If the probation officer learns that a probationer violated the terms of their probation, then the probation officer can get a warrant issued for the immediate arrest of the probationer. A violation of felony probation in Sarasota County and Manatee County is much more severe than a violation of misdemeanor probation.
The process for getting a warrant for violation of probation in Sarasota and Manatee Counties is straightforward. In misdemeanor cases, the probation officer will submit an Affidavit of Violation to the court. In Felony probation violation cases, the office submits a Department of Corrections Violation Report.
The affidavit is a sworn statement from the probation officer. It sets forth the facts that the officer believes establishes a violation of probation. Typically, the probation officer will add all of the violations on the same form. Each violation must be defended as they stand independent. In other words, you have to beat all the violations to beat the case.
The court then reviews the documents. If the documents support a charge, then the court issues the warrant.
Then the defendant is arrested on the warrant. As a Sarasota probation violation lawyer, if my clients inform me of a violation before the warrant is issued, then sometimes I can intervene and get the case resolved without my client spending extra time in jail pending resolution.
Defendant’s that violate felony probation are not entitled to a bond during the pendency of the violation of probation. In other words, you can be stuck in county jail for the entire time that your violation of probation case is pending!
You have no right to bond if you violate Felony probation in Florida!
Hiring an experienced Sarasota probation violation lawyer that focuses on probation violations is your best shot of avoiding the severe consequences of a probation violation. I have handled more than a thousand violations of probation and community control hearings in my time as a prosecutor. More importantly, I have successfully resolved many probation violations for my criminal defense clients with great Results.
If you are on probation, your goal should be to obey your probation terms, and complete your term as soon as possible. In certain cases, I can help you terminate your probation early by filing a motion for early termination of probation, and setting it for hearing.
In any event, getting off probation, and out of the system as soon as possible is the best course of action. Probation is a minefield ripe with ways to get revoked, which can easily send you to jail or prison. Probation is a privilege, not a right. Being sentenced to probation is not considered punitive in nature. And probation and community control is often times offered in lieu of jail or prison. Violating probation can easily result in the revocation of your probation. The court can, and and sometimes will, re-sentence you to incarceration.
Based on a violation of your probation, the court can terminate your probation at any time.
Be Productive and Proactive!
To make your probation successful, you should consider being as productive to society as possible. For instance, volunteering, getting or staying employed, graduating or going to school, going to a church of your choosing, and getting substance abuse treatment or counseling may be the difference in getting your probation revoked with incarceration or an early termination.
If you hire me to handle your case, I am with you throughout the process. As an experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense attorney, I can help guide you through probation to ensure that you get through it.
Some Common Reasons For Violating Probation in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
A few common factual scenarios account for most probation violations in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. There are substantive (such as a new criminal offense) and technical violations (failure to pay or comply with a payment term). The following are a few examples:
New Criminal Offenses
New criminal offenses, also called “new law” violations, can be difficult to overcome. Great skill is involved in resolving the new law case and the violation of probation. In any event, these types of cases are substantive violations. And just being arrested is enough to get a violation of probation in Sarasota and Manatee counties. That does not mean that the state can’t prove a violation of probation against you. The state is still required to prove the case in an evidentiary hearing, but being arrested for a new crime, is enough to be the basis of an arrest on a violation of probation. It’s worth noting that a crime that occurred prior to probation cannot be the basis for a violation of probation after the defendant is sentenced to probation.
Failed Drug Tests:
Failing a drug test or missing a mandatory random urinalysis can be the basis for a violation of probation. If it is a failed test, then the state must prove that an illegal drug was present in the defendant’s body. A probation officer testifying that you failed a drug test is not enough proof; there must be laboratory proof. The state must prove the positive result through the drug test results support by a proper witness.
Failure to Meet Financial Obligations
If you do not pay your court costs, restitution, costs of supervision, costs of drug testing, or other fees associated with your probation, then that can be a violation of probation. This type of violation can lead to a revocation of your probation.
One issue with this reason for revocation is your willingness and ability to pay. As a Sarasota probation violation lawyer, I have represented dozens of clients facing probation violations for failure to pay. The key to beating this violation is to show that the defendant did not have the ability to pay. The probationer must prove that they do not have the ability to pay. The court must then find that the probationer had the ability to pay. Without the court’s finding of ability to pay, the violation must be set aside for ability to pay.
Failure to Complete Court-Ordered Programs
Common programs ordered under probation include drug treatment programs, substance abuse counseling (AA or NAA), community service (called public service work hours in Manatee and Sarasota County criminal cases), batterers intervention program (a 16-week course required in domestic battery cases), anger management, Sex Offender Counseling, or any other court mandated program. The state must prove a willful violation of the terms of probation. If the State proves that your failure to complete was willful, the court is more likely to increase the sanction.
While your court-ordered appointments are essential, a single missed appointment with a valid reason is unlikely to show willful and substantial noncompliance with probation. Without a willful and substantial noncompliance, the State cannot prove a violation of probation. That doesn’t prevent an arrest for a violation of probation. And remember, if you are arrested on a violation of felony probation, you could be sitting in jail until your hearing. There are hearings and arguments to available in cases such as a missed appointment. But you will need an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney to help you find ways and defenses to limit your time in jail on a probation violation.
No matter what the basis of your probation violation, having an experienced Sarasota probation violation lawyer handling your violation of probation will ensure your best outcome.
What Happens When You Violate Probation or Community Control?
While you are on probation or community control, law enforcement can immediately arrest you without a warrant if you violate the terms of your probation or community control. Additionally, probation officers can stop by and check you and where you stay. You truly have limited rights when you are in the system on probation.
After your arrest, then get processed into the jail. You will then get an arraignment on the new charge. In Sarasota and Manatee Counties, specifically, you might get an Early Case Resolution (“ECR”) hearing date for felony violations of probation.
ECR hearings are offered on certain felony probation violation cases for minor or technical violations. These hearings are generally not available for more serious crimes, whether new law or underling, or violent crimes.
Generally, arraignment is just to inform you of the charges and to determine if you have an attorney or if you need the public defender appointed. The court then sets a violation of probation hearing occur 30 to 60 days away.
In Sarasota and Manatee Counties, you can sit in jail for months waiting for a hearing on your Felony Probation Violation!
Probation Violation Hearing
Under Florida law, you have the right to a hearing. You best bet is to have a Sarasota probation violation lawyer defending your probation violation hearing.
All Hearings Are Not Created Equal
Probation violation hearings are not like a criminal trial. You have no right to a trial by jury. You get a bench trial. A bench trial is literally just the judge hearing all the evidence from the bench and making a ruling.
Hearsay Can Be Used Against You
That’s right. Hearsay is admissible in probation violation hearings in Florida. But it can’t be the only evidence against you.
You Can Be Forced to Testify
Unlike a regular criminal trial, in a violation of probation hearing, the State and the Court can compel you to testify against yourself. You certainly do not want to handle a Florida Violation of Probation hearing without a skilled criminal defense attorney. Many times, it’s you against the State and the court!
At your hearing, the court can Revoke, Modify, or Continue the terms of your probation or community control.
Revocation of probation usually happens in cases involving a new law violation of if the underlying case deals with a serious or violent felony.
When the court Revokes Probation, it must adjudicate the defendant guilty of the underlying crime. Meaning, if you have a withhold of adjudication on the case when you were sentenced to probation, you are now convicted. In other words, you are now a convicted felon if your case was a felony. Not only are you convicted, but your chances of expunging or sealing your record are now gone. Additionally, the court can sentence you to any punishment that you could have faced originally.
A revocation does not necessarily mean jail or prison though. The court can sentence you to a new term of probation. But if you qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern, then you have to have a danger hearing.
Modifications are common for most violations. Usually the court can add conditions or extend the time of probation. They can also include jail time with the modification.
Continuing probation is the most common occurrence on a well defended violation of probation case in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Generally, this is for minor violations or first-time violators on relatively minor felonies. Sometimes a good Sarasota criminal defense attorney can persuade the court to continue the withhold of adjudication. It’s rare. And, I highly recommend that you don’t count on that result!
The important thing to take away here is the court has the authority to sentence you on the underlying offense. The court’s leniency is not required or guaranteed.
What You Should Do if You are Charged with a Probation or Community Control Violation in Sarasota or Manatee County, Florida?
As with all legal situations, the steps you take if you are facing a violation of probation or community control can make your situation better or worse. Unfortunately, most people freeze in panic and fear when they violate probation. They wait for a warrant and take no action until they are sitting in the county jail. No matter the specifics of your violation, there are certain steps you should take that will benefit your circumstances.
Call a Sarasota Probation Violation Lawyer to Defend You!
A knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney that knows Sarasota and Manatee County is your best defense. Knowing the prosecutors and the judges does not mean you are getting an unfair advantage. It means that you get the best advice of the potential outcomes of your probation violation case.
Next, remember that you are still on probation! You still must must comply with all the terms and conditions of your original probation. Even if you have been released on bond for a violation of probation, you must continue reporting and following the rules. Probation does not stop while you are pending a violation of probation hearing. And failing to tell your probation officer of a violation, is a violation in and of itself. Sometimes you can beat the underlying violation, but you lose on the failure to inform probation!
Feel free to Contact Me or Schedule and Appointment for a Free Consultation if you think you have violated your probation. Chances are, I can help you. I can’t promise that we can avoid a violation, but I can help posture you and provide a defense to minimize the impact of the violation.
Why Should You Hire an Experienced Sarasota Probation Violation Attorney?
Hiring a lawyer that has actual experience in handling Probation and Community Control Violations in Sarasota and Manatee, Florida may be the difference between prison and a modification. Knowing what the Prosecutor wants as punishment, and what the court will accept as mitigation can make a huge difference in your case. This isn’t insider information, it’s hard-earned knowledge and experience.
As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney, I have drafted and argued motions that have resulted in actual dismissals of violation of probation and community control cases. And I have resolved hundreds of violation of probation cases without prison sentences!