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New Law Violations: How Prosecutors Proceed On Probation Violations Even When Your New Charges Have Been Dropped

It is a common misconception that if a new law violation results in a "no action" or "nolle prosequi," the State Attorney's Office will simply reinstate you to your probation and the violation will be withdrawn.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A "new law violation" is a technical term that means a new arrest. In essence, you are on probation and you have been arrested for a new crime. This is the most serious type of probation violation.

If you are on probation and you pick up a new charge, you will face a probation violation and will likely be taken into custody without a bond. If you qualify as a Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern (VFOSC) and fall under the umbrella of the Anti-Murder Act, you will not only remain in custody without a bond while your violation is pending, but you will be facing substantial prison time.

It is a standard condition of probation in the State of Florida to "live without violating the law." Fla. Stat. s. 948(03)(e). It is further stated that, "a conviction in a court of law is not necessary for such a violation of law to constitute a violation of probation, community control, or any other form of court-ordered supervision." Fla. Stat. s. 948.03(e).

In other words, it is a state law that all probationers live without committing new offenses. Even if the offense results in a dismissal or the State Attorney refuses to file formal charges ("no action" or "no info"), that does not matter. The new charge may be gone but the probation violation is not.

So if you are on felony probation and you pick up a new felony, you will be taken into custody and held without bond. Even if the new felony is no actioned on the date of the arraignment, the State Attorney is not required to withdraw the violation. They may proceed on the violation simply because you failed to remain at liberty without violating the law.

At a probation violation hearing, the State would call the officers/witnesses/victims involved in the new crime and have them testify before the judge as they would in a jury trial. Except in a probation violation hearing, there is no jury; just a judge.

The judge would then decide - by a preponderance of the evidence - whether you violated the condition of failing to live without breaking the law.

It is a relatively low standard.

So the point is - every arrest while on probation is a big deal. Don't assume because the victim's not onboard or that the case is likely to get thrown out that you are not in trouble. You are in big trouble and cannot afford to take it lightly.

Being issued a written criminal citation (Promise To Appear or Notice To Appear) for a misdemeanor is still a new law violation. Once your probation officer finds out, they will file an affidavit of violation and you will be taken into custody.

If you are on probation in Miami-Dade County or Broward County and are facing a new law violation, call me.