Oftentimes, a first-time offender will be placed on probation once he or she has been convicted of a crime. A term of probation can also follow a jail or prison sentence. Probation is not easy and defending an allegation of a violation of probation is difficult. It’s difficult for a number of reasons, to wit:
For these reasons and more, a person facing an alleged violation of probation needs to hire an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney to represent them. Adam L. Bantner, II has represented those accused of probation violations since 2008 and can help! Call 813.416.7965 for your free consultation today!
A probation violation hearing is conducted before a judge who will decide whether a violation occurred. As mentioned above, he only has to find that it occurred by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much easier burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Additionally, the rules of evidence are relaxed in a VOP hearing. This means that hearsay evidence is admissible against the probationer. However, in order for the court to find a violation, there must be some non-hearsay evidence of the violation admitted into evidence.
For example, in State v. Queior, 41 FLW S154a (Fla. 2016), the Florida Supreme Court held that a probation officer’s testimony that he personally observed a probation take and fail a field drug test was sufficient for the court to find a violation of probation when corroborated by hearsay evidence of a lab report finding drugs in the probationer’s system. Queior resolved a split in authority amongst the DCAs on this issue.
A trial court is granted great latitude in disposing of violations of probation. It can simply dismiss the violation, revoke and terminate the probation, modify the probation, reinstate the probation, and sentence the probation to jail or prison up to the statutory maximum for the offense. As such, your attorney must be prepared to present substantial mitigation evidence so that you may achieve the best result possible in your case!
For example, a probationer or probation for dealing in stolen probation, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, faces up to 15 years in prison if the court finds a violation of that probation. Of course, the probationer would receive credit for any time previously served in jail and/or prison.
Finally, as the above illustrates, it is vitally important to hire an attorney well-versed in the criminal law arena. Adam L. Bantner, II is one such attorney. Call him today at 813.416.7965 to discuss your case.