Tampa Probation Violation Lawyer

Criminal Defense in Tampa

"Probation" refers a period of time, following a plea of guilty or no contest, where the client is closely monitored by a probation officer to ensure compliance with the remaining conditions of the client's sentence.

Probation can last from a few days to many years, depending on the severity of the charge, the underlying circumstances, and the client's prior record. Probation is often imposed in lieu of an incarerative sentence or, in more serious cases, as part of an incarcerative sentence. For those who are considered a danger to the community, or have demonstrated an inability to successfully complete probation in the past, a probationary sentence may not be an option.

Types of Probation in Florida

There are different levels of supervision as well, depending on the nature and circumstances of the charge. Community control involves a much stricter form of supervision than standard probation and requires that a client remain confined to his or her home except to work, attend school, or for some other purpose with prior permission from the probation officer. This is enforced through random and unannounced visits by the probation officer at locations where the client is supposed to be. Community control can involve the imposition of an ankle monitor to track the client's whereabouts and is a requirement in cases involving many types of sexual offenses. Drug offender community control includes the same restrictions as community control, but usually has additional requirements such as a substance evaluation and the successful completion of any recommended treatment.

Drug offender probation is less restrictive than community control, but more so than standard probation. Clients on drug offender probation have a curfew and must also undergo a substance abuse evaluation and successfully complete any recommended treatment. Standard probation is the least restrictive form of supervision, does not typically involve a curfew, and is reserved for less serious offenses. At each level, the client is required to report to his or her probation officer on a monthly basis, or as instructed, and pay a monthly cost of supervision. At each level, the client is expected to pay the associated fines, court costs and cost of investigation that were imposed at the time of sentencing and must refrain from any new law violations.

Often times, the judge will impose conditions that bear a direct relationship to the charge. In DUI cases, for example, the judge will require that the client attend DUI School, and alcohol counseling if it is recommended by the evaluator. In battery cases, the judge will usually require that the client undergo an anger management class. In cases where a victim suffered out of pocket monetary damages as a result of the accused person's conduct, the judge will usually impose payment of restitution as a condition of probation. Where the client would prefer to enter a plea in lieu of going to trial, we encourage the client to complete some or all of the applicable conditions before the case is resolved in an effort to shorten the probationary period, or in some instances, eliminate it altogether.

Defense for Probation Violations in Tampa

Depending on the underlying charge and the basis for the violation, a VOP can place the client in immediate jeopardy of incarceration. In misdemeanor cases, the resulting sentence can involve up to twelve months in the county jail and, in felony cases, it can involve many years in the Florida State prison system. Our Tampa criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger is very familiar with the complicated laws applicable to probation violations, and knows how to navigate our way through them to obtain the best possible results for our clients. This may involve a modification of the original terms and conditions to avoid a revocation of probation, or a negotiated period of incarceration that is less than what the sentencing guidelines would otherwise require. In situations where the basis for a violation of felony probation involves a new felony charge, we are sometimes able to negotiate an amendment of the new felony charge to a misdemeanor to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.

In March of 2007, the Florida legislature enacted the Anti-Murder Act which applies to felony probationers. This newer legislation prevents a judge from setting a bond or imposing a sentence that is less than the minimum guideline score where a "qualifying offense" is before the court for resolution, or where the offender has been previously convicted of a "qualifying offense". To set a bond, or sentence the offender below the minimum guideline score, the Judge must conduct a "dangerousness hearing" and make a written finding that the offender does not pose a danger to the community.

At The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger, we are very familiar with these types of proceedings and what is required to give our clients the best opportunity to avoid a revocation of probation and a subsequent period of incarceration. If you are faced with potential violations get immediate legal help and contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer from our firm today.

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