If you’ve been placed on probation in Florida, you may be relieved that you were not sentenced with more severe penalties. However, as you begin to learn what is expected of you during probation, you may realize that you must abide by extremely strict rules. It may seem as though any mishap could lead to a violation of probation, which may lead to the imposition of a worse punishment. To make matters worse, you must pay monthly fees to the state for supervision.
Probation is generally seen as a favorable alternative to incarceration because it allows offenders to remain in their communities. If you’ve been placed on probation in Florida, it’s crucial to work closely with a criminal defense lawyer to ensure you understand and follow the terms carefully. In many cases, judges grant probation for first-time offenders whom they believe may be deterred from committing future offenses without being subjected to worse penalties like incarceration. If you’re on probation for DUI or another alcohol-related offense, you will almost certainly need to avoid drinking alcohol.
Common Probation Terms
Probation serves several purposes. Perhaps the most important is allowing offenders to remain productive members of society. If you’re on probation, you can keep a semblance of your normal life. Probation is a favorable alternative to incarceration that helps keep prison and jail populations under control.
Typically, offenders placed on probation will have a long list of requirements. Depending on the details, you may need to meet regularly with your probation officer. Some of the most common conditions of probation in Florida include:
- Reporting to your probation officer
- Appearing for court
- Paying fines, court costs, and the cost of supervision
- Paying restitution to victims
- Refraining from interacting with people engaged in criminal activity
- Staying in Florida (unless your probation officer grants you permission to travel out of state)
- Obeying all laws and avoiding committing new crimes
- Refraining from illegal drug use
- Refraining from excessive alcohol use
- Submitting to random drug and/or alcohol testing at the offender’s expense
- Reporting any contact with law enforcement
- Refraining from moving or changing employment while on probation without the consent of your probation officer
- Maintaining a lawful occupation
- Not owning or possessing firearms during the probation period
Additionally, you may be required to complete community service and attend alcohol rehabilitation programs or DUI school if you were convicted of driving under the influence.
Don’t Risk a Probation Violation by Drinking
If your probation conditions state that you may not drink alcohol to excess, it is best to avoid drinking entirely since everyone’s idea of “excess” varies. After enduring such strict supervision, you will want to avoid any possible chance of violating probation because, in Florida, whatever time you have served on probation will not count toward your next punishment.
The judge who sentenced you to probation may revoke it and sentence you to the maximum possible penalties for your offense without leniency, even if you have already served several weeks or months on probation.
What Are Examples of Probation Violations?
Drinking alcohol when on probation for a DUI or related offense is typically a probation violation. If your probation officer reports your violation of probation to the judge, you may need to attend a probation violation hearing. During this hearing, you may present your case to the judge, who will determine whether you committed a violation and the appropriate course of action. The prosecuting attorney will need to establish that you committed a violation by a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that there is a likelihood of more than 50% that you committed the violation.
Many probation violations do not involve illegal activity. For many people on probation, meeting these non-criminal conditions may be the most challenging aspect of completing probation successfully. When a rule is not strictly followed, it may result in a technical probation violation. Common examples are:
- Failing to keep a job
- Failing to enroll in school
- Refusing or failing alcohol or drug tests
- Failing to meet curfews
- Failing to pay fines, cost of supervision, or restitution
- Drinking alcohol
- Maintaining contact with people who commit crime
- Moving or changing employment without permission
- Failing to complete court-ordered counseling
- Failing to complete community service
Avoid Probation Violations with a Knowledgeable Criminal Lawyer
Discussing the terms of your probation with a knowledgeable criminal lawyer in West Palm Beach may provide peace of mind knowing that you will meet the requirements and avoid further criminal penalties. However, if you are accused of violating probation, you are also encouraged to talk to a criminal defense lawyer like Brian Gabriel. Attorney Brian Gabriel may evaluate your case and represent you at your probation violation hearing. By presenting your side of the story, it might be possible to avoid penalties for the violation or prove your innocence.
Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to learn the next steps you should take after being sentenced to probation in Florida. Call 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.