Violation of Probation (VOP) in Florida
A violation of probation proceeding is much different than being charged with a new crime. Because you have already been sentenced to probation, you have less protection than if you were charged with a new crime. Some examples are:
- No statute of limitations; Can't wait out the VOP,
- No right to a bond while awaiting a hearing,
- No possibility of bond if you fall under Florida's Anti-Murder Act,
- No right to jury trial in a violation hearing,
- Hearsay is admissible against you,
- You can be forced to testify against yourself, and
- Guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
As you can see it is much easier for the State to prove a violation. Nevertheless, there are defenses to a violation of probation and I have successfully defended hundreds of clients accused of violating their probation.
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 you probation violated.
There are two types of probation violations you can commit:
Technical Violations 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,
- Being late to a probation meeting,
- Not completing court-ordered classes, etc.
Substantive Violations of Probation
Substantive violations of probation occur when you commit a new criminal offense.
Importantly, an acquittal in a criminal case does not preclude the judge from determining that a probation violation occurred based on the same conduct.  Meaning, a prosecutor can still try to “prove-up” the offense at a subsequent VOP hearing. And, unlike in a criminal trial, the burden of proof is only a "preponderance of the evidence" and there is no right to a jury.
Defenses to Violating Probation
Defenses to a charge of violating probation may include:
- Actual Innocence,
- Full Compliance, or
- Inability to Prove Violation (Insufficient Evidence)
Penalties for Violating Probation
If you violate your probation a judge can do one of three things:
- Reinstate your Probation,
- Modify your Probation, or
- Revoke your Probation.
Importantly, if a judge revokes your probation, Florida law allows the judge to impose the maximum penalty for the charge you were placed on probation for.
You are placed on two years of probation for Grand Theft and you violate by not completing an Impulse Control Class (Theft Deterrence Class).
A judge could legally sentence you to five years in prison; even if you complied with every other term of your probation.
Contact VOP Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby
Contact VOP Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby for the criminal defense representation you deserve. The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action to take.