Florida Court Explains Penalties Imposed for Probation Violations

The Florida courts will often sentence people convicted of federal crimes to lengthy prison terms. In some instances, though, a court will impose a more lenient penalty and sentence a person to probation. Offenders on probation must comply with the terms of their release, and if they do not, they may face significant penalties, including imprisonment. Recently, a Florida court discussed factors weighed in determining whether a sentence imposed after revocation of probation is reasonable in a case in which the defendant was sentenced to eleven months in prison. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is smart to meet with an experienced Tampa probation violation defense lawyer to evaluate your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud and participating in a tax fraud scheme. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to five years of probation. While on probation, he tested positive for marijuana, missed numerous drug tests and counseling sessions, and failed to report to his probation officer. Thus, the State moved for revocation of his probation.

Allegedly, during the revocation hearing, he asked for a second chance, which the court granted despite its reservations. The defendant tested positive for narcotics numerous times over the next five months. Subsequently, the district court revoked his probation and sentenced him to eleven months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release. The defendant appealed, arguing his sentence was unreasonable.

Reviewing a Sentence Following Probation Revocation for Reasonableness

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reviews sentences following the revocation of probation for reasonableness. The court elaborated that in reviewing a sentence for reasonableness, it will assess whether the court committed an abuse of discretion. Unless the court develops a firm and definite conviction that the district court made an obvious error of judgment, the Court of appeals will not disturb a sentence.

The court explained that when a defendant violates a term of probation, the district court may revoke probation and resentence the defendant. In making its decision, the district court must evaluate the need to demonstrate the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment for the crime, and promote support of the law. The district court must also deter criminal activity and protect the public from similar conduct in the future. In the subject case, the Court of Appeals found the defendant’s sentence to be subjectively reasonable, based on his criminal history, as well as his pattern of violating prior sentences. Thus, it affirmed the district court ruling.

Speak to an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

People who violate the terms of their probation may face substantial penalties. If you are accused of a probation violation, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about what arguments you can assert to protect your interests. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Tampa defense lawyer who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.