Articles Posted in Probation Violation

Typically, when a person is convicted of a crime and sentenced to probation, the court will issue terms the person must comply with as part of his or her release. Thus, a defendant that violates one or more conditions of probation may face probation revocation. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion discussing what is weighed in determining whether a violation of a condition of probation warrants revocation in a case in which the defendant on probation for aggravated battery was accused of violating numerous terms of his release. If you are accused of violating a probationary term, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney regarding your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including aggravated battery. He entered into a plea agreement that included sixty months of probation. In the first two years of his probation, the defendant was found to be in violation and was placed on community control. Another affidavit of violation was filed, alleging two additional violations of his community control, namely that he failed to remain in his residence and failed to complete a drug treatment program.

Allegedly, a hearing was held during which it was determined that the defendant was not present at his residence and his absence was not authorized, but that he was released from his drug treatment program due to health issues. He was found to have violated both conditions, and his community control was revoked. He was then sentenced to over five years in prison, after which he appealed. Continue Reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval in every area of life, including the judicial system. While many courts have delayed and canceled proceedings to protect public health, they are also largely mindful of protecting the rights of criminal defendants and must balance both objectives in determining how to proceed. Whether a remote probation violation hearing using audio-video technology violates a defendant’s constitutional rights was the topic of a recent opinion drafted by a Florida court. If you are charged with violating the terms of your probation, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Probation

It is alleged that in 2018 the defendant was placed on probation for first-degree murder. In June 2020, an affidavit was filed indicating he violated the terms of his probation by committing three new offenses. He was taken into custody and held without bond, and faced a life sentence if he was found guilty of violating his probation.

Reportedly, in October 2020, the Florida Supreme Court issued an order providing that all rules and court orders that prohibited the use of communication equipment for remote proceedings were suspended. Thus, it was determined at a status conference that the defendant’s probation violation hearing would be conducted via remote means. The defendant objected to the remote hearing, as he would not be in the same room as his counsel, and stated that it would constitute a violation of his Constitutional rights. The court overruled his objections, and the defendant appealed.

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In some instances in which a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the defendant’s counsel is able to negotiate an agreement where the person is placed on probation in exchange for a no-contest plea. In any case, where a defendant is sentenced to probation, it is crucial for the defendant to comply with the terms of the probation. If a defendant does not comply with the terms of probation, the probation may be revoked. As demonstrated in a recent case, however, the State must produce sufficient evidence that a defendant violated the terms of his or her probation, in order to obtain a revocation. If you are a resident of St. Petersburg and you are accused of committing a sex crime, it is prudent to meet with a capable St. Petersburg sex crime attorney to discuss what evidence you may be able to offer in your defense.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Probation.

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with lewd or lascivious conduct. He pleaded no contest, after which he was placed on sex offender probation. After he was released from jail, he went to the location approved by his probation officer, which was the home where he lived prior to his arrest. Upon arrival, he learned his wife had sold the home. He was then placed with a sponsor at a second residence, but disliked the location and requested to move.

It is reported that the defendant’s probation officer approved the move but advised the defendant he could not move until his new residence was inspected. The defendant moved regardless. The defendant was then charged with four counts of violating the conditions of his probation. He was convicted on all four charges, after which he appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to show that he violated two of the conditions in question.

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If you are convicted of a Florida sex crime, you may have the opportunity to avoid actual jail time by asking for probation. This form of supervised release requires a person to check in regularly with a probation officer and comply with other terms. In sex offense cases, those restrictions may include limits on the person’s use of cell phones and the internet. As a recent case out of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal makes clear, failing to live up to those requirements could land you behind bars.A defendant was sentenced to five years of probation after he was convicted of using a computer to seduce a minor and attempted lewd and lascivious battery on a child. As a condition of his probation, a judge ordered that he “could not have access to the internet without a treatment safety plan in place.” His probation officer also told him that he could not own a cell phone that could access the internet. He went to live in a facility of sex offenders. A court revoked his probation and sentenced him to nearly six years behind bars after facility operators found that he was carrying a Samsung smartphone.

The defendant later appealed the decision, arguing that prosecutors never proved that he actually used the phone to access the internet. The Second District agreed. The appeals court noted that prosecutors had called only one witness – the defendant’s probation officer – during the hearing in which they asked to revoke his supervised release. The probation officer admitted on the witness stand that she had no evidence that the defendant actually used the phone to access the web. The defendant denied using the phone for internet purposes in his own testimony.

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The Florida District Court of Appeal, Second District released an opinion on November 8, 2017, that addressed the due process rights available to a criminal defendant at a sentencing hearing. In the case, the defendant appealed the trial court’s decision to revoke his probation and impose a 40-month sentence. The Florida court of appeals applied earlier precedent from Florida criminal decisions to determine whether the State committed a reversible error when the defendant was interrupted during his sentencing hearing.

Due process rights require courts to render judgment only after they have properly considered the issues advanced by the parties. In the context of a probation violation hearing, the court must make separate determinations on whether to revoke probation and also whether the violation justifies the revocation of probation. The due process standard, according to the United States Supreme Court, gives a probationer the opportunity to present mitigating evidence and argue for sentencing alternatives when the trial court has sentencing discretion.

The primary Florida case cited was Amason v. State, 76 So. 3d 374 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011). In Amason, the defendant pled guilty to violating her probation. The charge included four alleged violations of probation, including a violation of condition 9 for a failure to make restitution payments and a violation of condition 3 for changing her residence without the approval of her probation officer. The trial court questioned the defendant, but the trial court interrupted her three times. The defendant’s counsel was unable to cross-examine the witnesses at the hearing. Moreover, the defendant was not able to respond to the allegation that she had committed fraud and that the maximum sentence should be imposed. The appeals court found that the court violated her due process rights. The appeals court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded for a revocation hearing before a different trial judge so that the defendant could present mitigating evidence.

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