Court Explains Grounds for Reversing a Revocation of Probation in Florida

In Florida, it is not uncommon for people to be sentenced to a term of probation, either after or in lieu of a prison sentence. People sentenced to probation, or community control, must abide by the terms of their probation order, which, among other things, means they must not commit additional crimes. If they violate any of the order’s terms, their probation may be revoked. While probation revocation hearings are not criminal trials, people before the court for such hearings nonetheless have rights. Accordingly, if their rights are violated and it results in an unjust revocation of probation, there may be grounds for reversing the ruling against them, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you are charged with violating your probation, it is wise to talk to a Tampa probation violation defense lawyer about your rights and what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the state filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that the defendant committed three new law violations: armed carjacking, grand theft of a vehicle in the third degree, and resisting an officer without violence. However, the written order of revocation outlined different violations, such as failing to undergo a mental health evaluation, not completing drug/alcohol treatment, failing to make restitution payments, possessing a weapon, failing to report to the community control officer, not staying confined to his approved residence, and failing to submit to electronic monitoring multiple times.

It is reported that during the revocation hearing, the defendant argued whether the carjacking should not be considered “armed.” Despite this, the trial court revoked the defendant’s probation, orally stating that he violated probation by committing the three criminal offenses mentioned earlier. The defendant then appealed.

Grounds for Reversing a Revocation of Probation

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the written order of revocation listed additional violations not mentioned in the oral pronouncement, including uncharged violations. The State acknowledged this error, conceding that the written order did not accurately reflect the trial court’s oral pronouncement and contained inaccuracies regarding the nature of the carjacking offense.

The court found that revocation of probation based on uncharged violations deprives the defendant of due process and constitutes a fundamental error. As such, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case with instructions to correct the written order of revocation to align with the trial court’s oral pronouncement.

In doing so, the court emphasized the importance of ensuring that written orders of revocation accurately reflect the factual findings and pronouncements made during the probation revocation hearing.

Consult a Skilled Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

While probation is a less restrictive punishment than imprisonment, people must nonetheless comply with the terms of their probation, and if they fail to do so, they may face harsher penalties. If you need assistance defending against allegations that you violated the terms of your probation, it is wise to consult an attorney. The skilled Tampa probation revocation defense lawyers of Hanlon Law have ample experience helping people protect their interests in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Hanlon Law by using the form online or by calling us at 813-228-7095 to arrange a meeting.