Court Analyzes What Constitutes a Willful Violation of Probation Under Florida Law

Under Florida law, if a defendant is convicted of a crime, the penalty imposed will depend on several factors, including the nature of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and the likelihood the defendant will commit another criminal offense. In some cases, the court will sentence a defendant to probation in lieu of jail time. A defendant sentenced to probation must comply with the terms and conditions of probation which are set by the court at the time of sentencing.

If a defendant violates any of the terms of probation it can result in a revocation of probation and a sentence of imprisonment. A Florida appellate court recently analyzed the State’s burden of proof in showing a defendant’s probation violation warrants revocation, in a case in which the defendant’s violation was revoked due to a willful violation.  If you are charged with a probation violation in Tampa, it is critical to speak with a trusted Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to prepare a defense.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Probation

In 2011, the defendant was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a child, to which he plead no contest. He was sentenced to six months in jail to be followed by five years of probation. In February, 2017, the State submitted an affidavit stating that the defendant had unsupervised contact with a child. In April, 2017, the defendant was found guilty of violating his probation, and his probation was revoked.

Allegedly, in August 2017, the State filed a second affidavit, stating that the defendant violated three conditions of his probation.  A hearing was held after which it was determined the defendant substantially and willfully violated his probation. As such, his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 104 months in prison. The defendant subsequently appealed.

Willful and Substantial Violation

In reviewing an order revoking probation, a court will look at whether the State has produced reliable and significant evidence the defendant committed a substantial and willful probation violation. Here, the court found that the evidence clearly indicated that the defendant failed to submit to sex offender treatment and lie detector tests. Regarding whether the defendant committed a willful violation of the edict that he remain in his county of residence, however, the court found the evidence was insufficient to show a willful violation.

Specifically, although the defendant had a GPS monitoring device that alerted him if he was in danger of leaving the county, it was not activated on the day of the alleged violation. Further, the defendant was unaware of where the county borders lay. The court found that since the State could not show the defendant knew he was leaving the county, it could not show he willfully violated the condition requiring him to remain in the county of his residence. Thus the court reversed the ruling in part and remanded for re-sentencing.

Meet with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Regarding Your Case

If you are a resident of Tampa and are currently charged with violation of probation following a conviction for a sex crime or any other crime it is sensible to meet with an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and any defenses to the allegations against you. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a seasoned Tampa probation violation defense attorney who can provide you with an assertive defense to help you seek to retain your liberties. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 813-228-7095 or through the online form to set up a confidential and free meeting regarding your case.