Probation is often the lesser of two evils after a conviction or guilty plea. If you receive a sentence of probation, you are not going to jail, or your time in jail will be shortened. However, your sentence is not over. Probation is a penalty for a conviction that is just as important as jail time, and your compliance with the court’s terms for your probation is essential.
The court will issue specific orders that you must obey until your probationary period is over. Violating these orders can result in separate criminal charges and may even affect your eligibility to remain free on probation. Therefore, it is important that you know and fully understand the terms of your probation and what may constitute a violation.
Penalties for violations
Depending on the offense of which the court convicted you, probation may last for several years. However, in Florida, some courts will order probation for considerably longer. This can make it a challenge to comply with the terms, and after a while, you may even forget those terms. Probation orders may prohibit you from consuming alcohol, associating with certain people and traveling out of state, among other things. You may also have to attend counseling, appear for appointments at court or with your probation officer, and pay restitution.
It is not as uncommon as you may think to face charges for violating your probation, and this may result in any of the following penalties:
- Community service
- Court-ordered rehab, counseling or correctional programs
- Additional months or years added to your probation
- New criminal charges
- Revoked probation
- Time added to your jail sentence
You may receive a warning from your probation officer or a summons to appear in court following an alleged violation. Your probation officer will likely take many factors into consideration before deciding how to proceed, such as the severity of the violation, your history of compliance with your court orders and any extenuating circumstances surrounding the violation.
If the violation is related to the commission of a crime, you may find yourself under arrest. No matter the circumstances, however, you have the right to receive a notice in writing describing the manner of violation claimed against you. You have the right to present your case in front of a judge and to defend yourself against any evidence others present in court. This includes providing your own witnesses and evidence and obtaining the representation of a legal advocate to assist you in building your defense.