When a person enters a plea to a criminal offense, and is placed on supervision (whether straight probation, drug offender probation, or house arrest), they often think that their risk of facing jail time for the offense has gone away. That is only partially true, and can have drastic consequences.
When the Court places a person on supervision, they are making a finding that at that time, the case doesn’t warrant a jail sentence, and withhold the imposition of such a sentence as long the conditions of supervision are complied with. The Court relies on other agencies including the following to verify the Court’s conditions are being met:
- The Salvation Army
- The local sheriff’s office
- The Department of Corrections
When an officer who is supervising you believes that you have violated any term or condition of supervision, a violation report is created. Once this report is prepared, either a Notice of Violation or a Violation of Probation Warrant is sent to the Court. The basis of a New Charge Violation is based upon a new arrest – whether Felony, Misdemeanor or Criminal Traffic.
What is a Technical Violation?
Violations of supervision can also be considered Technical Violations. Technical Violations such as failure to pay court costs, not making monthly payments toward restitution, being out of residence or missing curfew, or testing positive on a urine screen, or other non-new charge related violations are often not considered serious. This unfortunately, is not correct.
These violations can result in you again facing the very same sentence as you were before you were placed on supervision. There is one major and drastic difference, and that is that there is no longer the presumption of innocence, nor is there a right to a jury trial.
A violation of supervision is handled by a Judge who still has the authority to impose the same maximum sentence as the underlying charge. Any potential defense to the underlying charge is no longer relevant. The only defense that is available to the violation of supervision is whether the alleged violation is material and substantial.
Why You Need a Distinguished Attorney
Since these violations are relatively easy for the State of Florida to prove, it is imperative that even if you are facing even a technical supervision violation to consult with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to review your defenses, options, and develop a plan to resolve the Violation of Probation with the best outcome possible.
If you are facing a Felony Violation of Probation based upon a new charge, the Arrest Warrant is likely to be a “No-Bond” Warrant, that is the Court wants you to be held in custody pending the outcome of the new charge. If the new charge is dropped, then the Felony Probation Violation is likely to be dropped as well.
Since it often takes the State of Florida one month or longer to drop a charge, being held in the County Jail with a No-Bond status can have devastating consequences on your livelihood. That is why it is imperative for you to have the best prospects for the best outcome to consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as you suspect there may be a new charge while on supervision.
We have been able to file Motions to Set Bond, arrange for the presentment of our clients in front of the Court to present evidence, facts or circumstances for the Court to consider setting a bond, approve the use of an ankle monitor, or even Release on Recognizance. These Court Hearings have protected our client’s employment as well as eliminated the embarrassment of being arrested at work, school or home.
Once the Motion to Set Bond is heard, we actively work with our clients to address not only the actual basis of the violation, but to address the concerns that the Court may have in considering reinstating the supervision that is alleged to be violated.
For example, if a client violates a Felony Grand Theft supervision with a Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana new charge, we will arrange for a new substance evaluation even if the client has been previously evaluated. It can be significantly helpful to proceed to court on the Probation Violation to have a track record of clean urinalysis results and ongoing counseling. These proactive steps, as well as accelerating the completion of any outstanding conditions of supervision can have a tremendous effect of mitigating the Court’s disposition for the violation of supervision.
When Should You Consult an Attorney?
If the Probation Violation is a technical violation, you still should consult with an experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney. How you respond to the technical violation can have a significant bearing on the outcome.
For example, if the Violation of Probation is due to a text message to a victim who is the subject of a No-Contact Order, the reason for the test can be important. If the text was a response to repeated texts from the Victim, presenting this history of messages can be very beneficial. A Victim who is texting repeatedly and then call Law Enforcement for the non-threatening response, the courts are less likely to consider the one text substantial.
If the technical violation is not paying Restitution as scheduled, if Restitution can be paid in full by your Court Hearing, the supervision might be terminated at that Court Hearing.
These are strategies that are best developed during a consultation with a Criminal Defense Attorney who has the experience to know what has the best prospect of success in front of the Judge on your case.
This need to consult with a Tampa Defense Attorney at Taracks & Associates is even more necessary for a Technical Violation that involves a request to sign a Notice of Hearing to appear in front of the Judge. This notice maybe pursuant Fla. Stat. §948.06(h)1, which was enacted in April of 2016. This new provision allows for lesser punishments as well as more sentencing options as alternatives to a prison sentence. Since each county and enact its own standards, it is imperative that you retain counsel that is familiar with the procedures of the Court that you are required to appear before.
If you are asked to enter the Alternative Sentencing Program by your Probation Officer, you may be asked to waive your right to an attorney. Before you agree to waive that right, you should still consult with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. Once you waive that right and proceed down that path of handling your violation under this provision, you still may be facing a jail sentence if you are not able to comply with the conditions of the alternative sentence.
In 2016, there was an unexpected increase in prison sentences for technical violations by the Department of Corrections. This increase in incarceration for Technical Violations should not be ignored by you if you suspect that a Technical Violation is pending.
The Defense Lawyers at Taracks & Associates, have been handling violations of supervision for more than 30 years. This experience is invaluable to achieving the best possible outcome from these allegations. Once you suspect that you will be facing any violation of supervision, even a Technical Violation, please call us to schedule a free consultation so that we may begin to defend you from the allegation that you violated the terms of your supervision.