Violation of Probation Attorney

Tampa VOP Attorney | Escaping the Shadow of Probation Violations

Tampa Violation of Probation Lawyer

If you have been charged with violating your probation, it is imperative that you consult a violation of probation attorney as soon as possible. The Violation of Probation (VOP) process typically begins with a probation officer discovering a violation and filing an Affidavit of Violation of Probation, which details the specific grounds and circumstances of the alleged violation. The officer also submits a Violation Report and usually requests that the court issue an arrest warrant. This warrant directs that the probationer be held in custody without bond, pending their appearance at a VOP hearing. Although probation officers have the discretion to request a “Notice to Appear” or a summons in lieu of a warrant, this is rarely exercised.

Typically, within a few days, this paperwork reaches a judge, who will then issue the arrest warrant and direct the sheriff to take the probationer into custody. While judges have the discretion to set bond for these warrants, they rarely do so—bonds are seldom set for misdemeanor VOP warrants and are almost never set for felony VOP warrants.

Two General Types of Probation Violations

  1. Technical Violations: Technical violations typically include failing to report or attend specified appointments, failing to pay fines and costs, and testing positive for narcotics or other prohibited substances.
  2. Substantive Violations: Substantive violations occur when a defendant already on probation gets arrested or accused of committing a new misdemeanor or felony offense. This is also known as committing a “new law violation.” ​

Tampa VOP Attorney

If you have been accused of violating your probation, you do not have the right to a jury trial. Instead, you can request a probation revocation hearing in front of a judge. At this hearing, the prosecutor has the burden of proving a wilful and substantial violation of the terms of your probation by a “preponderance of the evidence.” See Smith v. State, 788 So.2d 1131, 1132 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001).

This means that the prosecutor must prove it is “more likely than not” that you are guilty of a violation—a much lower standard than the “reasonable doubt” standard. Further, at this hearing, you can be called as a witness to testify against yourself. A Tampa violation of probation attorney can help you navigate this daunting system and protect your rights.

Key Points about VOP Hearings

  • No right to a jury trial
  • No statute of limitations
  • No right to bond while awaiting a hearing
  • Hearsay is permissible against you, with a few caveats
  • You can be forced to testify against yourself​

In the unfortunate event that you are found guilty of violating your probation, the judge can sentence you to the maximum term imposed by the underlying crime you were originally accused of. Of course, you will be given credit for any time already served in jail. On the other hand, the judge has discretion to terminate, modify, or revoke your probation as he/she sees fit, under the circumstances. Often the judge will take into consideration a plethora of factors, including the seriousness of the original offense, the nature and egregiousness of the violation, your criminal history, any mitigating factors, and the recommendations of both the probation officer, and the state attorney. ​A violation of probation attorney can help you present these factors to the court in a positive light.

Violation of Probation Attorney

If you have been accused of violating your probation, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced violation of probation attorney. An attorney may be able to secure your release from custody while your VOP case is pending. Further, an experienced Tampa violation of probation attorney can often help you present mitigating factors to the court and negotiate a more lenient sentence.

Frequently Asked Questions

The frequently asked questions below address common concerns regarding violation of probation charges in Florida. They outline potential actions that may lead to violations, describe the procedures followed when a violation is alleged, and detail the rights available to individuals during such proceedings.

What constitutes a violation of probation?

Under Florida law, a violation of probation must be willful to result in a finding of violation. There are two forms of probation violations:

Technical Violations: These include willfully failing to meet probation requirements such as missing scheduled appointments, failing to pay fines, or testing positive for prohibited substances.

Substantive Violations: These occur when a person on probation is accused of willfully committing a new crime.

It is important to note that merely being unable to meet probation requirements, such as financial hardships affecting the ability to pay fines, does not automatically constitute a willful violation. Each case is evaluated based on the individual circumstances and evidence of willfulness.

What happens if I am accused of violating my probation?

If you are accused of a probation violation, your probation officer will first document the alleged violation in an Affidavit of Violation of Probation, detailing the specific nature and circumstances of the violation. The probation officer will then request the court to issue an arrest warrant. Shortly after, a judge will review the VOP Affidavit and, if warranted, issue an arrest warrant for your detention. VOP arrest warrants typically do not include a bond option, meaning you will be detained and required to remain in custody until your Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing can be scheduled.

Can I be arrested without a warrant for a probation violation?

Yes, in many cases, an arrest warrant will be issued if a probation officer files a report alleging a violation. However, probation officers can sometimes issue a Notice to Appear instead of seeking an arrest warrant, though this is very rare. Notices to Appear are generally reserved for very minor issues, such as a small shortfall in payment or when only a minor requirement is unmet as a probation term nears its end. Typically, this less severe action occurs only under circumstances where the violation does not significantly breach the terms of the probation.

What are my rights at a VOP Hearing?

You have specific rights during a VOP hearing, including the right to be represented by an attorney, the right to present evidence, and the right to cross-examine witnesses. However, you do not have the right to a jury trial, and hearsay can be used against you.

What is the standard of proof required at a VOP hearing?

The standard of proof at a VOP hearing is “preponderance of the evidence,” which is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials. This means the judge needs to believe it is more likely than not that you violated your probation.

What should I do if I’m accused of violating my probation?

If you believe you might be accused of violating your probation, it’s important to consult with an experienced violation of probation attorney immediately. An attorney can help you understand your options, represent you at the hearing, and work to mitigate any potential penalties.

What are the potential outcomes of a VOP hearing?

If found guilty of a probation violation, the judge may impose additional penalties, including extending your probation, imposing more stringent conditions, or revoking probation and ordering you to serve time in prison. Alternatively, the judge may also decide to dismiss the allegations based on the evidence presented.

Contact a Tampa Violation of Probation Attorney

Attorney William B. Wynne is an experienced and aggressive violation of probation attorney. Consultations are free of charge, and we offer payment plans to those who qualify. Contact us today for your free consultation.