In addition to or in lieu of penalties such as fines, imprisonment or payment of victim restitution, upon conviction of a criminal offense in Florida, the defendant may be sentenced to a term of probation. The word comes from the Latin word “probatio”, meaning “test” or “examination”. During the probationary period, the probationer remains subject to the active supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC), which will assign him or her a probation officer. The court has significant discretion in setting the terms of probation. Typical conditions include:
Regular reporting (in person – no phone calls) to the probation officer – usually once a week; Paying all fines, court costs and victim restitution; Paying a fee for the cost of supervision — in addition to fines and court costs; Community service; Random drug tests; Avoiding contact with law enforcement and association with known criminals; and Obtaining or maintaining employment.
A defendant’s compliance is actively monitored by his or her probation officer. If the probation officer has reason to believe the defendant has failed to meet one or more conditions, he or she can arrest the defendant for violation of probation (VOP), ask law enforcement to do so or ask the court to issue an arrest warrant. The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether a VOP has in fact occurred and, if so, whether probation should be revoked or extended, or if additional conditions should be imposed. Unexpected things happen in everyone’s life, and a probationer is no exception. He or she or a family member may suddenly become ill or have a flat tire on the way to work or a probation appointment. Unfortunately, many persons on active probation believe that once they’ve failed to meet one condition they are better off not reporting to their probation officers. In fact, since the failure to report is in itself a violation, this usually makes a bad situation worse.
How An Attorney Can Help You Confront a Probation Violation Claim
Having an experienced attorney intercede on your behalf can mean the difference between an additional term of probation (or worse) and a second chance. Actions your lawyer may be able to take on your behalf include:
- Contacting your probation officer to request additional time in order to allow you to cure the violation (for example, by paying fines or restitution);
- Filing a “motion for surrender” which allows you to turn yourself in and requesting that the court set a reasonable bond, or release you on your own recognizance or even dismiss the VOP charge; and
- Arranging for you to turn yourself in on the VOP warrant and then representing you at your first appearance hearing. This can often result in an expedited hearing, sometimes as soon as the next day.
Conviction of a violation of parole can result in reinstatement of jail time and other serious consequences. The lawyers at Orner Law, LLC understand the probation system in South Florida and will work to minimize the impact on your life and freedom. We have offices conveniently located in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.