Florida Probation Violations: Explained
Under Florida law, a defendant can be charged with a violation of their probation (VOP) if they are deemed to have willfully violated the conditions of their sentence. Probation violation cases are notoriously complex: these cases differ substantially from other criminal law proceedings. There is a lower standard of proof, and some of the standard protections for defendants do not apply.
Still, probation violations can come with very harsh consequences. A probation violation could even get a defendant sent to jail for an extended period of time. If you or a family member has been accused of violating probation, you need to take action. Please contact an experienced Miami defense lawyer for immediate legal guidance.
The Types of Probation Violations in Florida
As a general rule, violation of probation cases fit into two basic categories: new law violations and technical violations. A new law violation refers to a case in which a person on probation is alleged to have committed another, wholly new criminal offense. With technical violations, there are no allegations that another law was actually broken. Instead, the law enforcement officers and prosecutors are alleging that the defendant failed to comply with the specific terms of their probation. This could be due to a missed court date, missed payments, or one of many other issues. In either case, accusations of probation violation must always be taken seriously.
Violations Must Be Substantial and Willful
Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 948.06.) probation violations must be both ‘willful’ and ‘substantial’. Minor violations, or a violation that the defendant could reasonably claim as ‘unintentional’ may not actually qualify. Though, it must be noted that Florida courts have broad discretion to determine what is ‘substantial’ and what is ‘willful’. All probation violation issues will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For this and other reasons, it is imperative that defendants get a qualified Miami defense lawyer by their side as early as possible in the process.
What is the Standard of Proof in a Florida VOP Case?
In ordinary criminal cases, defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. However, that is not true in probation violation cases. The prosecution is held to a lower standard in these cases. Instead of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must simply establish that it is ‘more likely than not’ that the defendant is guilty of violating their probation. In other words, proving that there was a 51 percent chance that the defendant is guilty of a probation violation is sufficient. In other criminal cases, that is well below the bar for conviction. With such a low standard of proof required, it is crucial that defendants are represented by an aggressive attorney who can proactively work to build a strong case on their behalf.
Speak to a Miami, FL Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, we are committed to getting the best results for our clients. Our Miami criminal defense team always gives each case the full attention that it deserves. If you are facing a probation violation in South Florida, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today at 305-600-3519 to get a free, fully confidential legal guidance.