Florida Court Analyzes Grounds for Revoking Probation

In some Florida criminal cases, the courts will sentence a defendant to probation rather than imprisonment. People on probation must abide by the terms and conditions of their sentence, however, and if they do not, their probation may be revoked. Generally, though, inadvertent and unintentional probation violations are insufficient to warrant revocation, as shown in a recent Florida ruling. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is prudent to consult a dedicated Tampa probation violation defense attorney to assess your options.

The Alleged Violation

It is reported that the defendant was charged with a third-degree domestic violence felony after he struck the victim, who was his girlfriend. He pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea and was sentenced to six months in prison with credit for all but one day served, to be followed by probation. The terms of his probation included a requirement that he abide by the state and federal law, complete a batterer’s intervention program, and maintain peaceful contact with his victim. He was subsequently arrested for domestic violence battery for assaulting the victim.

Allegedly, the state filed numerous iterations of an affidavit of probation violation, arguing the defendant violated his probation in three ways: by calling the victim from jail and for being arrested for two separate domestic violence crimes. Following a hearing, the court issued a revocation order on the grounds that the evidence supported the finding that the defendant violated the terms of his probation. He appealed, arguing that the state failed to show that he knowingly violated the peaceful contact condition.

Grounds for Revoking Probation

Under Florida law, during a probation revocation hearing, the state must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant substantially and willfully violated a term of their probation. Further, a trial court’s determination that a party on probation substantially and willfully violated a condition of their probation must be supported by competent evidence.

Upon reviewing the evidence, the appellate court noted that while the calls the defendant made to the victim from jail did not support the assertion that he violated the peaceful contact condition, they did support the argument that he violated the terms of another condition, in that he was in violation of a no-contact order when he made the call. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court reversed to the extent the trial court erred in determining what conditions of probation were violated and remanded the matter to the trial court to make a new determination.

Talk to a Seasoned Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa

A probation sentence allows a criminal defendant to enjoy many activities of normal life, but if they fail to adhere to the terms of their probation, it may be revoked. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a probation violation, you should talk to an attorney to determine what measures you can employ to protect your interests. The seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue a favorable outcome.  You can reach Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.