The Denson Firm

Guide to Florida Probation

If you are facing criminal charges or have been sentenced to Florida probation, getting informed is a key to your future.

What is Probation in Florida?

Probation in Florida is a type of supervision ordered by the court. When you are on probation, you are not in prison or jail. You must follow the rules and tasks detailed in the Florida probation order but have a certain degree of freedom. This type of supervision is better than prison or jail, but it is still serious and comes with severe penalties if violated.

Probation is used quite frequently in the state as an alternative to incarceration. Did you know that almost 150,000 people are on probation in Florida? Yes. If you are facing criminal charges, your criminal defense attorney will work to get the best outcome for your case, including potentially receiving probation instead of incarceration.

What’s the Difference Between Parole & Probation?

The two terms may sometimes be used interchangeably by the general public, but they are different. As mentioned above, probation is utilized by the courts instead of putting people in jail or prison.

Parole is utilized when you have been incarcerated as a form of early release. The parole board is the authority that must agree to the early release. There would still be rules you would have to follow, similar to probation. Parole is not common in the State of Florida.

Types of Probation

The type of Florida probation will depend on the criminal charges. The state has five major types of court-ordered probation.

  1. Administrative Probation — The most lenient type of probation, you must follow the standard conditions and terms of probation but do not have to report to a probation officer regularly.
  1. Standard Probation — You must follow the standard conditions and terms of probation and regularly report to your probation officer.
  1. Sex Offender Probation — You must follow the standard conditions and terms of probation and are supervised by a special probation officer. You also must complete any other requirements detailed by the judge in your case. Completing a sex offender program is also part of this type of probation.
  1. Drug Offender — You must follow the standard conditions and terms of probation and complete any other conditions detailed by the judge in your case. You also typically have to submit to random drug and/or alcohol tests. Completing a substance abuse program is also commonly part of this type of probation.
  1. Community Control — You are incarcerated in your home – also known as “house arrest.” In this type of probation, you are under continuously supervised custody.

Florida Probation Rules

Basic Florida probation rules listed in Florida Statute Section 948.03 encompass the standard terms and conditions. These include:

  • Keeping a job while on probation
  • Reporting to your assigned probation officer regularly
  • Paying restitution to any individuals that were harmed by your crime
  • Supporting your dependants financially
  • Allowing your probation officer to visit your workplace, home, and any other places that you may frequent
  • Staying in a particular geographic area specified by the court, such as your city, county, and state
  • Submitting to random alcohol and drug testing
  • Not using controlled substances; the only exception is if a physician prescribed them for medical reasons.
  • Refraining from committing any new offenses (do not break the law)
  • Refraining from associating with people that are involved in criminal activity; this includes friends and relatives
  • Not possessing any firearms

These are all common rules but are not fully comprehensive of what you may face. The court can add more terms and conditions to your probation.

Probation Violation

If you get probation, it is critical to stick to the conditions throughout its duration. Probation violations are serious and often result in incarceration, among other penalties. This can be for misdemeanor probation in Florida and felony probation in Florida. Additionally, you do not get a jury trial.

There is also a lower level of proof to convict, which is called the “preponderance of the evidence.” The evidence that shows you violated the terms and conditions of your court order must only slightly outweigh the evidence that doesn’t.

What is Considered a Violation?

A violation of Florida probation is when someone “substantially and willfully” does not comply with one or more of the conditions of the court order. Probation is typically not revoked if the person is proven to make a “reasonable effort” to comply with all of the conditions. The aspect of “substantially and willfully” is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Two fairly common examples of violations are positive drug tests and committing new offenses.

What Happens If I Unknowingly Violate My Florida Probation?

It can be challenging to prove that someone unknowingly or accidentally violated their probation, which is another reason why it is important to follow the conditions until it is over. But with the potentially severe consequences, it is highly advised to have a criminal defense attorney advocate on your behalf.

Penalties

Whether you are facing a violation of DUI probation or another type, the penalties are harsh. The court may give you the initial sentence of your offense, including jail or prison time and higher fines. The penalty cannot exceed the statutory maximum of the original offense.

How to Get Off Of Probation Early

After you have served half of your probation, your attorney can file for a “Motion for Early Termination of Probation.” The court typically looks for evidence that you have been complying with the conditions, including paying restitution and fines and having had no violations and completed any mandated treatment programs. Working with an attorney is the best strategy when you are wondering how to get off probation early in Florida.

When to Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

When your future and freedom are at stake, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The criminal justice system can move quickly to try to prosecute.

Contact an attorney if you are currently on Florida DUI probation or another type of probation and have served half your sentence while adhering to its conditions. You may be able to get an early release.

Contact The Denson Firm today to set up a free consultation.

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