When faced with the possibility of prison, probation often seems like a wonderful alternative. In some cases, depending on the strength of the evidence against the accused, that may actually be true. However, there are many misconceptions about probation. For one, probation is exactly that: probation. Legally speaking, it means that you are on thin ice. One slip up and you can find yourself facing a violation. If you or someone you know are currently facing a probation violation in South Florida, here are some things you should know.
Everything You Need to Know About Probation Violations in Florida
Posted By The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A.
There are 2 types of probation violations: Technical violations and substantive, or "new law" violations. A technical violation is less severe than a substantive violation. A technical violation can be something like a positive drug test, failing to report to your probation officer, changing your address without notifying your probation officer, or failing to complete your classes or community service hours.
A substantive, or "new law" violation, is when the probationer gets arrested for a new crime while on probation. These are far more severe and are treated as such by the State Attorney's Office and the Courts. If you are on probation for a misdemeanor and are arrested for a new misdemeanor, chances are you will be able to post a bond and appear in court. If you are on probation for a felony, however, and pick up a new misdemeanor, or worse, a new felony, you will more than likely be held without bond until the matter is resolved.
When you are arrested and charged with a crime, you are presumed innocent and the charges must be proven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt. When you violate probation, however, the State need only prove that you violated your probation by a preponderance, or greater weight, of the evidence. This is a much easier standard for the State to meet.
When you violate probation, you face the maximum number of years you would have faced on your underlying charge, minus the time you have already served on probation. For example, if you are on two years probation for grand theft, which carries a maximum of five years in prison in Florida, and you violate probation after the first year, you are facing a maximum of four years in prison if the Judge finds that you willfully violated your probation.
That's another important point - there is no jury trial in a probation violation hearing. It is a hearing before a Judge. Probation violations are serious matters. I have handled many probation violations in both Miami and Broward courts and have been successful in my negotiations with the State. Feel free to contact me to ask me specific questions regarding the results of my recent probation violation cases. If you or a family member are facing a probation violation in Miami or Broward court, call me right away.