A violation of probation case starts in Saint Lucie County when a person on probation is arrested for a new criminal offense by the police, or when the probation officer requests a warrant be signed by the Judge. Suspects facing VOP charges have limited rights and their cases come with hurdles that require the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer.
VOP (or violation of "supervised release" in Federal Court) cases are unique in a number of ways.
The most glaring is that you have no right to a jury trial on the facts of the alleged violation.
A judge decides whether or not the government is able to prove a violation by a preponderance of the evidence.
A person facing a VOP is not entitled to a bond. This doesn't mean a bond is not available, but there is no statutory right to one.
Hearsay is admissible, the accused can be forced to testify (with limitations), and guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
This is a very minimal burden of proof and it's not unheard of for a jury to acquit someone of the new criminal offense and then have the Judge find the person guilty of a probation violation. An experienced criminal attorney can mean the difference between incarceration and freedom.
There are two kinds of violations that are commonly charged in the 19th Judicial Circuit on Florida's Treasure Coast.
A technical violation is any violation of the general or special conditions of the probation order. Common examples include failure to attend required classes, failure to complete counseling, missing a probation meeting, changing your address without permission, failing a drug test, or failing to pay costs and fees. A good criminal lawyer should be able to guide you through this process and make arguments that explain the circumstances and convince the Judge to set a bond and allow you to make good on your alleged technical violation. Of course, sometimes a probation officer just flat out gets it wrong and an aggressive attack on the actions of the officer may be in order.
A new law violation (condition 5) is what they call it when folks get arrested while they are on probation. The challenge here is that a Judge gets to make the decision as to what happened and the State's burden of proof is much lower. A preponderance of the evidence standard applies, which basically means "more likely than not". So if the government is able to convince the Judge that it's more than likely that the alleged offense was committed, you'll be found guilty of the violation of probation.
A board certified criminal trial lawyer can be a big-time asset in these situations. Having experience and credibility in front of the Judge is not to be under estimated. While there are certainly no back room deals or payoffs like you may see in the movies, it goes without saying that a skilled and respected criminal attorney is more likely to have success in the courtroom than a lawyer who goes in unknown and unprepared.
Brian Mallonee is a board certified criminal trial lawyer devoted to the relentless defense of all criminal matters, including probation violations. If you or someone you care about is facing a Violation of Probation in St. Lucie (Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie), Indian River (Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fellsmere), Martin (Jensen Beach, Stuart, Palm City, Indiantown), or Okeechobee county, Florida feel free to contact criminal lawyer Brian Mallonee at (772) 464-1991 for a no cost evaluation of your case.
Brian Mallonee is a Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving St Lucie, Indian River, Martin, and Okeechobee Counties