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Violation of Probation (VOP)

The Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help defend your future from a violation of probation (VOP) charge in Pinellas County, Florida. Melinda Morris, managing partner of the Morris Law Firm was a former assistant state attorney with the Sixth Judicial Circuit and was responsible for prosecuting a variety of VOP offenses. This perspective can prove invaluable in understanding the prosecution's case against you and weakening it.

St. Petersburg Violation of Probation Lawyer

If you are accused of violating your probation, you run the risk of having your probation revoked. A judge will sign a warrant for your arrest. Once you are brought into county jail, you may be kept there without bond.

A violation of probation hearing under Florida law is very different than being charged with a new crime. Because you have already been sentenced to Probation, you have less legal protections than if you were charged with a new crime:

  • No statute of limitations; You can't wait out the VOP;
  • No automatic right to a bond while awaiting a probation violation hearing;
  • No right to jury trial in a violation of probation hearing;
  • Hearsay is admissible against you;
  • You can be forced to testify against yourself;
  • Guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

It is generally much easier for the State Attorney’s Office to prove a violation of probation than a new offense. Nevertheless, there are defenses to a Violation of Probation. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. strives to successfully defend clients accused of violation of probation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, Dunedin, Seminole, and the surrounding areas.

Hiring the Morris Law Firm, P.A. quickly can be beneficial in several ways including:

  • We can appear in court on your behalf to argue for your “release on own recognizance” (ROR), or for a bond to be set;
  • We can often file a motion to surrender which allows you to walk into the courtroom with your criminal defense attorney to ask the court to withdraw or modify the VOP "no bond" warrant for your arrest;
  • We can argue the merits of the violation itself in an attempt to get the violation dismissed, or help you get your probation reinstated by the Court in lieu of more severe sanctions;
  • We can develop a plan of action that can be presented to the Court on your behalf to show the Court why you should not remain in custody and instead what can be accomplished by you if you are allowed to remain out-of-custody and working on your probation conditions.

After you are placed on probation, you are advised of the conditions of your probation by the judge or a probation officer. Should you disobey the conditions, you run the risk of having your probation violated. There are two types of probation violations you can commit:

  • Technical Violation; or
  • Substantive Violation (New-Law Violation)

What is a Technical Violation of Probation?

A technical violation is any violation of either your general or special conditions of probation. Examples of technical violations include:

  • Changing your address without permission;
  • Failure to pay court costs or fines;
  • Missing a probation meeting with your probation officer;
  • Being late to a probation meeting with your probation officer;
  • Leaving the county or state;
  • Not completing court-ordered classes, etc.

What is a Substantive Violation of Probation?

Under Florida law, substantive violations of probation occur when you commit a new criminal offense. Importantly, even if the new criminal charge is dismissed or your win acquittal at trial, a prosecutor can still try to "prove-up" the offense at a VOP hearing. And, unlike a criminal trial, the burden of proof is only a "preponderance of the evidence" and there is no right to a jury.

What are the penalties for Violating Probation?

If you violate your probation a judge can do one of three things:

  1. Reinstate your Probation;
  2. Modify the terms of your Probation; or
  3. Revoke your Probation.

Importantly, if a Florida judge revokes your probation, Florida law allows the judge to impose the maximum penalty for the charge for which you were placed on probation.

What are the defenses to violating probation under Florida law?

Defenses to a charge of violating probation may include:

  • Actual Innocence;
  • Full Compliance; or
  • Inability to Prove the VOP allegation (also known as "insufficient evidence").

If you have been charged with violation of probation in St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Florida, contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney at the Morris Law Firm, P.A. to discuss the particular facts of your misdemeanor or felony violation of probation case.

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