Court Discusses Evidence Sufficient to Prove a Probation Violation in Florida

Many criminal convictions result in sentences that include probation. While a person is not incarcerated during a probationary period, he or she must nonetheless comply with the terms of probation, and a person who willfully violates the terms of his or her probation may be sentenced to imprisonment. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence the State may introduce to show a willful violation of probation. If you live in Tampa and are accused of a probation violation or a crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Tampa probation violation defense attorney to discuss your options.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of multiple sex crimes for which he was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by ten years of sexual offender probation. His probationary period began in 2013. In 2014, the defendant’s probation officer filed a notification of a technical violation due to the defendant’s failure to take a polygraph test, but no affidavit of a violation of probation was filed. In 2015, a violation of probation violation was filed, but the defendant was found not guilty, and in 2018 the defendant was found to have violated the terms of his probation, after which his probation was reinstated.

Allegedly, in 2019 the defendant’s probation officer submitted an affidavit of violation of probation due to the fact that the defendant missed his curfew. The defendant denied that he committed a willful violation, but following a hearing, the defendant was found guilty of a violation. He was sentenced to concurrent fifteen-year prison terms, after which he appealed, arguing that the court violated his rights during the hearing and sentencing process.

Evidence Permissible in a Probation Violation Hearing

In Florida, a court determining whether to revoke probation must determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the defendant substantially and willfully violated probation and, if so, then must determine whether to revoke probation. On appeal, the appellate court will review whether there was substantial competent evidence to support a finding of a violation and whether the lower court erred in revoking probation.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that not only had the trial court relied on evidence outside the record in determining there had been a violation, it also did not allow the defendant to offer defense as to the State’s allegations. Specifically, the court allowed the State to introduce evidence of a prior alleged violation of curfew even though no technical violation letter or affidavit was ever submitted in support of the allegation. Thus, the court found the trial court misconstrued the record and relied on improper evidence in finding a violation and reversed the trial court ruling and remanded for further proceedings.

Speak to a Dedicated Probation Violation Defense Attorney

If you live in Tampa and are charged with violating the terms of your probation, you should speak to an attorney regarding your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a dedicated Tampa probation violation defense attorney who can advise you of your potential defenses and assist you in striving for a just result. Mr. Hanlon can be reached through the online form or at 813-228-7095 to schedule a meeting.