One of the first things you must understand is what exactly a violation of probation, also known as a VOP, actually is.
- A violation of probation (VOP) is a criminal charge which, if proven, enables the Court to impose a new (and possibly increased) sentence upon you.
- The State frequently asks the Court for a harsher/more severe sentence than what was initially imposed as a punishment for you failing to comply with the terms of your probation as first ordered.
- There are two types of violations of probation, substantive and technical. The difference between the two is explained below.
- Sentencing in this area is complicated and requires a great understanding of the procedural rules and the law.
What is the difference between a substantive violation and a technical violation?
There are two types of violations that can occur: Substantive and Technical. Substantive violations are allegations that you were arrested on a new criminal offense (or offenses) while on probation. This could include any new criminal charge, even something as small as driving on a suspended license or reckless driving. Technical violations, on the other hand, are allegations that you failed to complete one or more of the terms or conditions of your probation that were originally ordered by the Court when you were sentenced the first time.
Potential Consequences and Outcomes in VOP Cases
Every violation of probation case is different. In some instances we are able to get your probation terminated successfully rather than having you even face any additional penalty. In other cases there are times that the court can be persuaded to 'reinstate' your probation, meaning put you back on probation status instead of sentencing you to jail or prison. If your violation is of a more substantive nature there are times when an experienced attorney may be able to convince the court to impose an alternative option such as house arrest rather than a county jail or state prison sentence.
What Strategies Should I Explore?
In some cases, your attorney may consider obtaining a continuance of our your court date. This will provide you with time complete the previously imposed terms and conditions that remain outstanding, or give you time to pay outstanding financial obligations prior to appearing before the Court. This way when you do appear before the Judge there are less outstanding terms left to be completed.
In other situations, your attorney may advise you to complete additional terms that were not previously ordered, but might look favorable in the eyes of the court. These decisions are made by lawyers on a case-by-case basis, and an experienced attorney might be able to come up with a strategy for your specific case depending on the facts. To give you an example, the additional terms might include things such as:
- Completion of a psychological examination;
- Additional community service hours;
- Submitting to a drug screen;
- Enrollment in college or GED programs;
- Obtaining letters of support from friends, family, and employers;
- Relocating to avoid contact with alleged victims;
- Proving that a vehicle has been sold to avoid further driving offenses; and/or
- Providing copies of medical reports.
Out-of-State Violations of Probation
An experienced attorney may be able to represent you in Court without you having to make an appearance if you live out of state. This can save you thousands of dollars in travel expenses, not to mention prevent you from having to take time away from work and family.
What Should I Do Next?
Every VOP case should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Call our firm today for a free, confidential consultation at 813-281-2897. We have five experienced attorneys on staff who have handled cases like yours in the past and know how to fight the accusations being made against you.