Violation of Probation
When a criminal defendant is convicted, the court often supervises that individual by placing them on probation. The Department of Corrections, through a probation officer, subsequently monitors the individual to ensure that they are complying with all of the terms and conditions that the court imposed at the time of sentencing.
Have you been arrested while on probation? Violations of probation can be either technical or substantive. This can seriously affect the severity of the violation. Ask a Broward criminal defense lawyer from our team about what you can expect when you go to court on your VOP.
Are you currently on probation? Have you or a loved one violated the terms of the probation? The William Moore Law Firm is a Broward County criminal defense law firm offering years of experienced legal representation and knowledge in the art of criminal defense. Contact our Fort Lauderdale Probation Attorneys at William Moore Criminal Defense for immediate legal answers and available representation in Broward County.
County and Circuit court judges have great discretion in determining the terms of probation once a defendant has either pled or been found guilty. However, the penalties imposed by the sentencing judge must be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense. In other words, all conditions must be rationally related to the State Attorney’s need to supervise the defendant and a special condition of probation will be found to invalid if such a condition has no relationship to the crime committed, prohibits activity that is not itself criminal, or forbids behavior that is not reasonably related to future criminal activity. Once the court imposes the conditions of probation, it may not later enhance or add to these conditions absent a violation and subsequent revocation. The court may however, lessen the restrictions imposed on a criminal defendant upon a defense attorney’s filing a motion for modification of probation. Individuals who are successful on probation may also seek to have their probation ended early by having their attorney file a motion for termination.
It is important to know, only the general conditions and conditions imposed by the court comprise of the restrictions to a defendant. Probation officers are precluded from creating new conditions and are entirely without jurisdiction. Individuals who feel that their probation officer has added new conditions not imposed by the court should have their attorney bring this to the attention of the sentencing judge immediately. Failure to bring such activity to the attention of the court can result in their being arrested and held in the county jail before being given the opportunity to be heard.
When a probationer does not comply with the court’s sentence, their probation may be violated and ultimately revoked. A revocation of probation must be both willful and substantial before a determination of violation and re-sentencing can take place. Where a probationer makes a reasonable and good faith effort to comply with the conditions of their imposed probation, the court may not find that a violation has occurred. Illnesses and automobile failure have been found to be valid reasons for an individual’s failure to report or attend drug and alcohol counseling.
The payment of fines, costs, and restitution may also be imposed on a probationer which are broken down to monthly payments. An individual’s failure to pay such fines can lead to a violation and revocation of probation where a probationer had the ability to pay and willfully chose not to do so. Before revoking probation, the court must inquire as to the defendant’s employment status, financial resources, and earning ability.
Other unforeseen consequences may be brought to the court’s attention that effectively prevented a probationer from paying a required monthly amount. An inability to pay is absolutely a defense to a violation of probation and should be brought to the court’s attention prior to a warrant being signed by a judge. Waiting to have an attorney file an appropriate motion can result in a probationer’s being arrested and sitting in jail waiting to be heard by a judge. Probation cases can be both complicated and technical.
A violation of probation can result in a probationer’s being arrested and brought before the very judge that sentenced him or her to begin with. Where probation is revoked, the judge may impose a sentence up the statutory max that a defendant was originally facing on his or her original counts. Once placed on probation, a criminal defendant cannot go back and assert defenses that may have been available to the original crimes charged. It is only the violation that becomes an issue.
If you wish to speak with us about cases in South Florida contact our FORT LAUDERDALE CRIMINAL LAWYERS and schedule a free consultation.