Recent Court Case Clarifies Probation Violations in Florida
In some Florida criminal cases, a judge will issue an order for probation in lieu of jail time or sentence the defendant to probation after a period of incarceration. For many individuals, probation is a key benefit. You have significantly more freedoms compared to serving or continuing your sentence in prison, so it is likely that you can continue with work, your personal life, and your daily routine. However, there are limitations on your liberties. Probation comes with numerous restrictions, and you could face considerable penalties for violating the terms of the judge’s order.
Still, a crucial legal issue often arises regarding probation, since not all violations are extreme enough to lead to a revocation of probation. A recent Florida court case addressed this topic, and the finding could impact your situation. Talk to a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney about possible defenses if you are accused of violating probation, and read on for some important information.
Summary of the Recent Court Case: In the case of Clark v. State of Florida, the defendant received probation after being convicted of multiple drug offenses. The judge had issued an order establishing a curfew, requiring him to be at home between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. While the probation order was still in effect, the defendant traveled to a convenience store at 11:15 p.m. and was detained by a police officer at 1:40 a.m. As a result of this clear violation of the court’s order, his probation was revoked by the trial court.
Court Finding in Clark v. Florida: The defendant appealed the trial judge’s decision and argued that his probation should be reinstated on multiple grounds:
- The violation was not a “substantial” one. The court disagreed with this argument by noting that the defendant was away from his home for an extended period of time after curfew, and there was no emergency.
- The defendant did not willfully violate the terms of his probation. Appellate judges also disagreed with this point, referring to the fact that the defendant chose to leave his home.
How Revocation of Probation Affects Your Rights: Even if a judge finds that your violation of probation is not substantial, there are still implications for your case. The terms of your probation may be modified, often by extending the probation period or including additional conditions. However, when the court revokes probation, the implications can be harsh. For example:
- A judge has the power to impose the maximum sentence of the underlying crime; and,
- If your probation was part of a plea bargain, the judge could still issue the maximum sentence for the underlying crime – even if agreed to a lesser term of incarceration with the prosecutor.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer
Probation allows you to live a relatively normal life, but it is critical to be aware of how a violation could affect your rights. With help from an attorney, you can present defenses to the judge and obtain a positive outcome. If you have concerns about revoking probation, please contact the offices of Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can advise you on your options after reviewing the details of your case.