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The term "Violation of Probation" is often abbreviated as "VOP." Florida law provides for many different types of probation that all involve some level of supervision with a probation officer. Examples of different types of probation violations include:
Not only do we represent clients accused of violating probation, but we also help clients apply to:
If you are on probation, our goal is to help you complete the probation successfully so that avoid going back to jail on a VOP arrest warrant.
If you believe your probation officer is going to say that you violated your felony or misdemeanor probation, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. Our offices are located in downtown Tampa, just a few blocks from the courthouse.
The four attorneys in our office focus exclusively on criminal defense. A large portion of our practice is devoted to probation violation cases. We fight for our clients charged with violation of probation cases at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County.
We also represent clients in VOP cases for all misdemeanors, felonies, and DUI cases in all the counties in the greater Tampa Bay area, including in Clearwater in Pinellas County, in New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, in Brooksville in Hernando County, in Bradenton in Manatee County and in Winter Haven and Bartow in Polk County.
Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to speak with us about your felony, misdemeanor DUI case for violation of probation.
After the probation officer submits the paperwork for the violation of probation ("VOP"), the judge can grant a bond. Although the judge can grant a bond, most judges issue a "no bond" warrant. A "no bond" warrant means that you will sit in jail until your case is resolved.
In some cases, a person arrested on a VOP warrant will sit in jail for weeks or months until the case is resolved. Keep in mind that Hillsborough County just launched a new electronic warrant pilot program which means that a VOP warrant can be issued and entered into the system much faster.
As a result, it is common for people who believe they will be arrested for violation of probation to stop reporting to their probation officer. Some individuals even flee from their home to avoid being arrested on the VOP arrest warrant.
Failing to report to your probation officer or absconding only makes the matter worse by causing additional grounds for the violation. If the court knows that you failed to report or absconded, the court may be less inclined to give you another chance at successfully completing your probation when you are eventually picked up on the warrant and brought before the judge.
The best results in a VOP case in Tampa, FL, occur when you face the allegations appropriately.
Some VOP cases involve a warrantless arrest for violation of probation and community control after an allegation that you committed a new crime. This detention is often called the "COP VOP" because a law enforcement, instead of the probation officer, triggered the violation through a probable cause affidavit. Either way, you need an attorney to help you resolve the case.
Your attorney can contact your probation officer on your behalf and request additional time to allow you to come into compliance with the terms of your probation before the VOP affidavit is submitted to the judge. The probation officers have wide discretion in these matters. Your attorney might also be able to help you come into compliance faster and avoid the violation entirely.
In other cases, your attorney can file a "motion for surrender" which may allow you to turn yourself in on the VOP warrant in the courtroom where the judge can set a reasonable bond in the case, dismiss the allegation or release you on your own recognizances (ROR). Alternatively, an attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in on the violation of probation warrant at the jail, and then represent you at your first appearance hearing the next morning.
Your attorney can schedule an emergency bond hearing to give you the best chance at having your case resolved quickly if you are not released after your first appearance court date. Sometimes the court will agree to a bond or ROR so that you can have time to come into compliance with any outstanding terms before your next court date.
Even if the court is not inclined to grant bond, the court may be inclined to resolve the case that day. The best result might be dismissing the VOP affidavit or reinstating the probation to give you another chance to complete the special conditions of probation.
Contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm at 813-250-0500 today to get advice on your best options for resolving your probation violation case.
If you are facing an allegation of a probation violation, then you are not alone. As of June 30, 2017, the Florida Department of Corrections listed approximately 167,000 people who were on active felony probation. The Tampa Office of the Department of Corrections has 12,010 offenders under supervision in Hillsborough County alone.
Of those, nearly 30,000 probationers had allegations of a probation violation pending because they violated their VOP order. The number of individuals on misdemeanor probation with pending probation violations are even higher.
Many of those probationers with an active VOP warrant live out of state and might be subject to the extradition process. Extradition for a probation violation case is when the person will be arrested in another state and then held until Florida comes and picks them up to transport them back to the county where the warrant originated.
If a person is arrested on the VOP warrant, the sheriff's office in one county will hold the inmate until he is transported back to the county where the warrant originated. Violation of probation statistics in Florida show that Probation Officers collected more than $72 million from probationers in restitution and other costs in FY 2013-14.
The State Courts Administrator defines the term “Probation Revocation Hearings” to mean a probation revocation hearing is a proceeding in which a judge determines whether a defendant's probation should be modified or revoked following an alleged violation.
According to the statistics kept in the statistical reference guide for FY 2014-15, the Florida Office of State Court Administrators found that the following total number of Circuit Criminal Special Proceedings were filed in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County included 8,518 Probation Revocation Hearings while statewide total were 71,172.
Administrative Order S-2014-057 for Criminal Justice Division Procedures in Hillsborough County, FL, became effective on January 1, 2015. Section 10 of the administrative order on "Bond Reduction and Release on Recognizance" provides:
In cases involving an alleged VOP, applications for modification of bail will be submitted to the judge assigned to the division in which the alleged violation is pending or scheduled.
Applications for modification of bail in such cases will not be heard at first appearance or in Division “O” without the specific concurrence of the judge assigned the violation, or in that judge’s absence, the administrative judge of the Criminal Justice Division, an associate administrative judge or the chief judge.
If defense counsel schedules a hearing for a reduction of bond or release on recognizance, defense counsel will notify the defendant’s probation officer of the scheduled hearing so that probation information can be made available for the hearing.
The administrative order defines the term “VOP” provides in Section 1(n):
VOP means a violation of probation, violation of drug offender probation, violation of community control, and violation of juvenile commitment or violation of juvenile community control imposed as a consequence of a juvenile having been sentenced as an adult.
Information Center for Tampa VOP Cases
· Technical Violations and Substantive Probation Violations
· Violation of Probation Hearings in Hillsborough County with Judge Perry
· Violation of Probation Hearings Generally
· Reasons for a Violation of Probation Allegation
· Consequences of a Violation of Probation Finding
· Conclusion on VOP Cases
Violations of probation can be divided into two categories: technical violations and substantive violations. Read more about the legal definitions of the terms used in violation of probation cases in Florida.
The Circuit and County Courts throughout the State of Florida, each have different policies and procedures for handling accusations of violation of probation. For example, a motion to surrender may be available for a misdemeanor or felony violation of probation in Hillsborough County, but not for a particular judge in Pinellas County, Pasco County or Polk County.
In Hillsborough County, the vast majority of felony violation of probation accusations for technical violations or a substantive violation resulting from an arrest for any misdemeanor offense are handled in Division K by the Honorable Nick Nazaretian. Division K was created in order to have one courtroom in Hillsborough County, Florida, to deal with the vast majority of violation of probation cases in a more expedited manner.
Dubbed the "Excuse Court" by the local media, the VOP judges hear every excuse in the book. Because these judges handle so many violations of probation cases, they can quickly access information about the case from the bench including the probation officer's file, jail records, inmate visitation records, and criminal history information on the defendant and other people that associate with the defendant.
If you sit in the courtroom long enough, you will be amazed at the number of individuals that lie to the court and then admit the lie when confronted. If you choose to speak to the court about the allegations, be truthful. If you hire an attorney, be truthful with the attorney when discussing the facts of the case.
The key to obtaining the best result in a violation of probation case is not just having an excuse, but being able to prove through relevant documents and testimony the reasons for the violation and how you plan to come into compliance if given another chance.
The fact that violation of probation cases in Hillsborough County are expedited does not always work in the defendant’s favor. Most violation of probation cases are resolved with an "admission" that the defendant violated probation. Many defendants are not aware of legal defenses that exist in their particular case.
For example, the violation must be "willful" and "substantial," as opposed in inadvertent and trivial. Additionally, even in those cases where entering an "admission" is in the best interest of the person accused, the outcome may be far better when an experienced attorney can present mitigating or favorable information to the court about your case.
Perhaps most importantly, a private attorney in Hillsborough County can file a motion to have your violation of probation case put on the judge's calendar much faster than it would otherwise be heard. For many cases, after the arrest, the defendant may sit in jail for three weeks before his first court date. A private attorney can often put the case on the calendar the next business day after the attorney is retained.
In a violation of probation case, there is no jury trial and the burden of proof is merely a preponderance of the evidence (not the higher "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard). Consequently, prosecutors may have a much easier time winning a violation of probation hearing then winning a case during a jury trial.
If you are found to be in violation of your probation, either after a hearing or after entering an "admission," the court can sentence you to any sentence that could have originally been imposed, which means that you can receive the statutory maximum sentence for that particular offense or offenses.
For example, on a third-degree felony, such as possession of a controlled substance, you could receive five (5) years in Florida State Prison for violating your probation, even if the violation was merely for a technical violation.
The court, however, has other options besides prison. For example, the court can modify your probation to lengthen the term of probation or to add provisions for a more intensive drug treatment program or additional community service hours.
The Florida Department of Corrections supervises different types of probation, including community control, sex offender probation, and drug offender probation. If you have been arrested for violating probation, violating sex offender probation, or violating drug offender probation, contact an experienced Tampa Probation Attorney to discuss your case.
An experienced lawyer can help you assert important defenses during the Violation of Probation Hearing. During the hearing, the court is required to review each allegation of violation on a case-by-case basis to determine under the particular facts and circumstances of the case, whether a particular violation is willful and substantial by the greater weight of the evidence.
The evidence comes in the form of documents admitted into the record and testimony from witnesses that appear in court.
The violation of probation in Florida is not willful or substantial if the individual makes reasonable efforts to comply with the conditions of probation, but fails to comply because of some factor out of the individual's control such as a medical emergency or mental illness. Likewise, the violation of probation might not be willful if the individual was told or otherwise lead to believe that his probation was over and that he was no longer required to report.
The failure to submit one monthly report or to submit the report late may not be substantial when the individual is otherwise in compliance with the terms of his probation. A curfew violation might not be a substantial violation of probation if the individual was not at his residence at the required time due to unexpected car trouble or other circumstance out of his control.
A violation of probation can occur for a number of reasons including:
The most serious VOP cases involve a new felony arrest. If the State Attorney's Offices formally files the new charges, then the defendant will answer the violation of probation charges before the felony division in which the defendant was originally sentenced.
The court usually has many different options if the probationer is found to be in violation. Those options include:
In Hillsborough County, a violation of probation arising in a standard division based on a technical violation not involving a new felony charged will be scheduled and disposed of in Circuit Criminal Division “K”. If the VOP case involves a new misdemeanor charge violation, then all VOP matters arising in any standard division, including the new misdemeanor charge, will be scheduled and disposed of in Division “K.”
If the defendant is on felony probation and misdemeanor probation when a new misdemeanor charge is allegedly committed by the defendant, any VOP arising in a county criminal division will be scheduled and disposed of in Division “K.”
The judge assigned to Division “K” is hereby appointed as an acting county court judge for the purpose of presiding over such misdemeanor charges.
The judge in Division K will also review any proposed warrants for any technical VOP and for any alleged violation involving a new misdemeanor charge. The probation officer will present the proposed arrest warrant and affidavit of violation of probation to the judge assigned to Division “K” for review and action.
If the violation of probation allegation in Hillsborough County alleges that the probationer committed a new felony law violation resulting in an arrest, then the VOP case will be resolved in the standard division in which the case was last pending.
Any violation of probation (VOP) matter in courthouses in Tampa, FL, arising in a standard division as a result of any alleged violation involving a new felony charge and an alleged technical violation will be filed and disposed of in the standard division in which the case was last pending.
All violation of probation (VOP) matters arising in Circuit Criminal Division “Y” as a result of any alleged violation will be filed and disposed of in Division “Y” and handled according to the administrative procedures for Drug Court in Tampa, FL.
If the judge improperly extends the period of probation without having a probation hearing? Before enhancing the probationary terms, the trial court must comply with the requirements of section 948.06. Section 948.06(1)(b) requires that the Department of Corrections file an affidavit of violation and serve the probationer with either a warrant or a notice to appear.
In some cases, the Department of Corrections is permitted to submit a notification letter of a technical violation in lieu of a violation report as permitted by section 948.06(1)(e). But even in those cases, section 948.06(2) still requires that the trial court hold a hearing before any violation may be found and before any modification to the terms of probation may be made.
While a trial judge who receives a notification letter of a technical violation may have various options available for dealing with that notification letter, bypassing the notification and hearing requirements of section 948.06 is not one of those options if the court intends to modify any of the terms of probation.
If the probation expires before the violation affidavit is filed, then the court loses jurisdiction to revoke or modify or extend the probation. A motion to dismiss can be filed to address this jurisdictional issue in front of the judge at any VOP hearing if the court tried to take any action after probation has expired. If a proper appeal is filed, the appellate court should vacate the order of revoking, modifying or extending the probation and any resulting revocation order, adjudication of guilt, and sentence.
In order for the court to modify, extend or revoke probation, an affidavit of violation of probation must be filed and a warrant for arrest or notice to appear must be served on the defendant with an opportunity to address the issue during a hearing the alleged violation.
The Florida Supreme Court addressed the issue in Lippman v. State, 633 So.2d 1061 (Fla.1994). In that case, the Department of Corrections filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that Lippman violated three conditions of his probation. Id. at 1062–63.
The trial court found that the allegations did not relate to valid conditions of Lippman's probation, and it refused to find Lippman in violation. Id. at 1063. When the State made an oral motion to modify Lippman's probation to “clarify” the conditions of his probation, the trial court modified certain conditions of Lippman's probation in such a way that Lippman was forced to leave his employment, move from his residence, and have no contact with his siblings. Id.
Lippman's modified probation was subsequently revoked after he had contact with his siblings, and he was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Id. In finding that the modification of the conditions of Lippman's probation was unauthorized, the Florida Supreme Court explained:
Both the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution guarantee that no individual will be put in jeopardy more than once for the same offense. The guarantee against double jeopardy consists of three separate constitutional protections: “It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. And it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense.” North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969) (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added).
Under the third protection against multiple punishments for the same offense, probation is a sentence in Florida. Larson v. State, 572 So.2d 1368, 1370 (Fla.1991). Thus, the double jeopardy protection against multiple punishments includes the protection against enhancements or extensions of the conditions of probation. See Williams v. State, 578 So.2d 846 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991) (finding that extension of probationary period at subsequent restitution hearing when sentence already imposed at earlier sentencing hearing violated double jeopardy).
Section 948.06, Florida Statutes (1987), “provides the sole means by which the court may place additional terms on a previously entered order of probation or community control.” Clark v. State, 579 So.2d 109, 110 (Fla.1991). Before probation may be enhanced, a violation of probation must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge. Id. at 110–11; § 948.06(1), Fla. Stat. (1987).
Absent proof of a violation, the court cannot change an order of probation by enhancing the terms. Clark, 579 So.2d at 110–11. In the instant case, the court specifically found no violation of probation, yet proceeded to enhance the terms of Lippman's probation. This violated the double jeopardy prohibition against multiple punishments for the same offense. Thus, the order modifying probation must be vacated. The consequences that resulted from Lippman's violation of that modified probation must be vacated as well, including the order revoking probation, the adjudication of guilt, and the sentence imposed.
Lippman, 633 So.2d at 1064 (emphasis added; footnotes omitted).
When making the ruling, the Lippman court relied on Clark v. State, 579 So.2d 109, 110–11 (Fla.1991), which held, in pertinent part:
Before probation or community control may be enhanced, either by extension of the period or by addition of terms, a violation of probation or community control must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge following the procedures of section 948.06. Absent proof of a violation, the court cannot change an order of probation or community control by enhancing the terms thereof, even if the defendant has agreed in writing with his probation officer to allow such a modification and has waived notice and hearing.
In Nichols v. State, 672 So.2d 825, 825 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995), the court found that "[a]bsent proof of a violation of probation, a trial court cannot modify an order of probation by enhancing its terms.”
Likewise, in Eddie v. State, 933 So.2d 570, 571 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), the court found that "[b]efore probation may be enhanced, either by extension of the period or by addition of terms, a violation of probation must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge, following the procedures of section 948.06, Florida Statutes (1993).”
Finally, in Frederick v. State, 405 So.2d 1344, 1345 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), the court held that the trial court's sua sponte order that purported to modify the defendant's probation violated double jeopardy and was also an unauthorized extension under section 948.06). Such a modification is not allowed even:
Although the Statute of Limitations doesn't apply to a violation of probation, the court might lose jurisdiction over the case if the VOP warrant is not issued and served before the probation period expires. If you think you were on probation for too long, talk with a criminal defense attorney about whether a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction can be filed in your VOP case.
Felony Probation Cases in Tampa, Florida - For individuals put on probation for a case pending in the Circuit Court in and for Hillsborough County, FL, the probation will be supervised by the Department of Corrections. The vast majority of these cases are felony offenses. Although if the charges were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor for the plea, the Florida Department of Corrections would still supervise the probationer. Tampa Circuit Office of the Department of Corrections provides various community-based sanctions and programs including mental health programs, substance abuse programs, and sex offender treatment programs.Tampa Circuit Probation Office - Department of CorrectionsThirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, FL1313 N. Tampa Street, Suite 809
Update - As of October of 2015, the Salvation Army is no longer managing misdemeanor probation services in Hillsborough County. Instead, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is now overseeing that service and providing supervision and rehabilitative services to misdemeanor probationers. The Clerk of Court will process all misdemeanor probation financial transactions and disburse fines and court costs paid by probations. The new procedures regarding probation services is set out in an Interlocal Agreement between the courts and David Gee, as Sheriff, and the County of Hillsborough, FL.
Under the new rules, the cost of supervision fee is $75 for the first month and $55 per each month thereafter and a one-time setup fee of $12 to the clerk's office. The clerk's fee is for the accounting, processing, and collecting of all misdemeanor probation cost-of-supervision financial transactions in accordance with the Interlocal Agreement. Unless restitution is ordered to be paid to a victim under Section 948.09, Florida Statutes, the Clerk will assign the first $50 of any fees or costs paid by an indigent misdemeanor probationer as payment of the application fee.
After entering a plea, the person is required to report in person to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Misdemeanor Probation office located where the court hearing was held (the courthouse in Tampa or Plant City). Probationers must report within forty-eight (48) hours of their court or release date, excluding weekends and holidays. Probationers who are being released from Orient Road Jail may report to the Orient Road Probation Services location.
After being put on probation, probationers that speak Spanish are handed a piece of paper that says:
A TODA PERSONA SENTENCIADA A PROBATORIA;
Favor de reportarse fisicamente a la Oficina del Alguacil del Condado de Hillsborough al departamento de Probatoria para Delitos Meneres. La oficina se encuentra donde se sostuvo su audiencia de corte en Tampa o Plant City. Usted se tiene que reportar dentro de las primeras cuarenta y ocho (48) horas de sudia en corte o del dia que salio de la carcel, esto no inclueye fines de semana o dias de fiesta. Personas que sean liberadas de la carcel "Orient Road" se puenden reportar a la oficina de probatoria localizada en Orient Road.
Read more about misdemeanor probation in Hillsborough County.
If you have filed a motion asking to modify or terminate your probation, some judges will require your probation officer to complete a "Probation Officer Information Form." The form reads as follows:
PROBATION OFFICER INFORMATION FORM
Court Date (if assigned): ________
List any additional information you believe will be useful to the court in making a determination on the early termination of probation or other relief sought.
The information set forth above is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Probation Officer Signature
Contact Phone Number and Extention
Fax completed form to the judge's judicial assistant.
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are ready to assist you with your Violation of Probation case. Whether the underlying offense was DUI VOP, domestic battery, drug charges, shoplifting or theft charges, call us to discuss the case. We are experienced with the local procedures and administrative rules for probation violation cases in Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL.
We can help you get back in front of the court quickly after the VOP warrant is served, although the most advantageous time to hire a probation revocation attorney is before the affidavit of violation is even completed by the probation officer.
We also represent clients who want to petition the court for Early Termination of Probation or a modification of the bond conditions. The goal in these cases is helping our client complete their probation successfully or changing the special conditions of the probation sentence.
Call us at 813-250-0500 for a free consultation to discuss your constitutional rights, the strengths of the case, the weaknesses of the case, the advantages and disadvantages of a trial versus a plea offer, and the possible sentence for the pending probation violations.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Tuesday, June 5, 2017.
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Meet Our Attorneys
Jason D. SammisTampa native with 15 years experience. University of Florida College of Law Graduate...Read more
Leslie M. SammisFocused on DUI Defense for more than 15 years. Former Assistant Public Defender...Read more
Matthew A. MenendezAs a former assistant public defender, Matthew is experienced in trial advocacy and motion...Read more
Amanda BrunsonWith over 25 jury trials and 40 bench trials, Amanda is experienced in...Read more
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Tara ColeWith more than fourteen years experience as a paralegal / legal assistant, Tara Cole is...Read more