It was a good day for a client of mine this morning who had waited nearly 30 years to have a probation violation warrant dismissed.
When the client was a young man, he was placed on probation in Broward County for a theft charge. While on probation, the client did not complete required conditions and left the state without authorization. In addition to other technical violations of probation, leaving the state constituted the serious violation of absconding, and a warrant was issued for the client’s arrest.
For 28 years the client lived with the warrant hanging over his head. Since it was a felony warrant, he could have been arrested and possibly extradited to Florida at any time. Living out of state, the extradition process could have taken months, during which time he would have remained in custody without a bond.
The client reached out to me a few months ago, wanting to resolve this warrant once and for all. The client was now 49 and had not been in trouble since the original arrest back when he was 18.
A mitigation packet was presented to the prosecutor who, after several weeks of going back and forth, finally agreed to the dismissal of the warrant and termination of the probation. A mitigation packet is documentation that demonstrates why a person should be given a break. In this client’s case, he had some significant health problems as well as a lack of criminal history other than the original arrest. In the past 28 years, he had gotten married, had children, and had held down a good job. Other than one minor indiscretion that occurred when he was 18, he was an upstanding citizen who did not deserve to be subject to punishment 28 years after the fact.
What was best about this entire matter is that the client never had to leave his home state to return to Florida for court.
While these situations are rare, old probation warrants can be dismissed and probation terms terminated. It is important that the state and defense come to an agreement on these matters since most judges will not rule on these issues without the physical presence of the accused.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal defense attorney and Broward criminal defense attorney assisting clients with bench warrants, capias warrants, and probation violation warrants in Miami-Dade County and Broward County.