Florida Probation Questions Answered
Common Questions About Probation and Community Control
Central Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer
Last Updated: June 20, 2015
The answers to the following questions should not be considered legal advice and you should always consult with an attorney before making any legal decisions expecially those concerning your liberty.
Common Questions Regarding Probation and Community Control
Q1. What do I have to do while on probation?
A1. While on probation (or community control, see below) you must abide by all the conditions placed upon you at sentencing. This includes general conditions and special conditions. If you are unsure of what these are call your probation officer immediately and find out.
Q2. What are the general and special conditions of my probation?
A2. See Answer A1. (General conditions are explained to you at your first meeting with your probation officer. At that time the probation officer will also explain your special conditions.)
Q3. What is the purpose of probation?
A3. Under Florida law a judge is restricted in sentencing options to (1) incarceration and/or (2) fines. Under these options a judge must adjudicate you guilty (this means you are convicted). Probation is actually an alternative to sentencing. Often times it is described as a sentence however it is not. A sentence is actually withheld in lieu of you successfully completing your term of probation. That is why if you violate probation you again face the maximum incarceration or fine for that offense (because technically you were never sentenced). By withholding a sentence a judge may also withhold the adjudication of guilt and thereby not convict you of the offense. This is very important if you want to be able to seal your record after probation is completed.
Q4. Do I have to complete the entire term of probation that the judge puts me on or can it be shortened?
A4. This answer varies. Most judges will require that you complete at least half of your original term of probation before they will consider terminating the remainder of your probation. In addition, all your special conditions must have been completed or fulfilled. However, some jurisdictions believe that once ordered the term cannot be shortened. This is based on a District Court decision that deals with a negotiated plea with the Office of the State Attorney. Negotiated pleas are different and there is a legitimate argument that a motion to terminate probation early be accompanied with a declaration that the State does not object.
Q5. Do I need an attorney to shorten the length of my probation?
A5. The correct answer is "no." However, without a lawyer you'll be wasting valuable time trying to figure out what needs to be put in your motion and how to schedule the hearing. Everyone is allowed to represent themselves under the law but it not usually the best idea.
Q6. I violated my probation. Now what happens?
A6. A violation is reported to the judge by the probation officer in the form of an affidavit. Upon receipt of the affidavit, the judge has the discretion to issue a warrant for arrest or dismiss the violation. Upon issuance of the warrant your term of probation is tolled. You will either be arrested or, in some misdemeanor cases, be required to turn yourself into the county jail. Felony violations of probation usually have a no-bond status. Therefore your attorney will have to set a bond hearing immediately. At this hearing most cases will be resolved. If not resolved then the case will be set for a violation hearing. At the hearing the judge will determine if you have violated your probation.
Q7. Can I bond out after I am arrested for a violation of probation?
A7. This depends on the original charge and the nature of the violation. Typically, the answer is No. It is always worth trying to obtain a bond. We don't charge extra for a bond hearing if we represent you on the violation.
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