Florida Court Discusses Evidence Sufficient to Show a Sex Offender Probation Violation

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.

Evidence Sufficient to Show a Violation of a Probation Condition

One of the terms of the defendant’s probation required the defendant to comply with the reporting requirements set forth by Florida Statutes Section 943.9435. Specifically, he was required to notify his probation officer within forty-eight hours of any relocation. The evidence of record showed, however, that he was arrested within one day of when he moved for failing to comply with the reporting requirements. As such, the court found that his arrest was premature and could not support the finding that he substantially and willfully violated the terms of his probation.

The second condition the defendant argued he did not violate was the condition that required him to promptly and accurately answer any questions from his probation officer. The lower court found that the defendant violated this condition by providing general directions when he was asked where he resided. Upon review, the appellate court found that evidence did not support this finding. Instead, the evidence showed that the probation officer knew where the defendant was living. Thus, the court found that the defendant did not willfully evade any questions from his probation officer. As the court could not assess whether the defendant’s probation would have been revoked absent the rulings that he violated the two conditions in question, the court remanded the case to the lower court for further review.

Meet with a Skillful Sex Crime Defense Attorney

Criminal defendants who are sentenced to probation following a conviction for a sex crime can face significant penalties if they do not comply with the probationary terms. If you are faced with sex crime charges, it is important to meet with a skillful sex crime defense attorney regarding your available defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a St. Petersburg attorney with the skills and experience needed to help you seek a favorable outcome. Mr. Hanlon can be reached at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to schedule a confidential and free consultation.