Florida residents who are placed on probation face possible incarceration if they violate the terms of their supervised release. Common probation violations include committing another crime while on supervised release, failing or refusing to take a toxicology test, failing to make court-ordered restitution and not reporting a change of address. When judges determine that an individual has committed a probation violation, they may extend the length of their supervised release, impose a fine or send them to jail.
The process usually begins when the Florida Department of Corrections notifies law enforcement that an individual has violated the terms of their supervised release. Police officers are then dispatched to take the individual into custody. The next step is a first appearance hearing, which is similar to an arraignment hearing in a criminal case and must be held within 24 hours of the arrest. At the conclusion of this hearing, the judge will either set a bond for the offender or remand them to custody. The offender will then be given time to prepare for a violation of probation hearing. This is similar to a criminal trial, but there is no jury.
The preponderance of the evidence
Individuals accused of violating the terms of their probation are protected by the due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution because their liberty is in jeopardy, but the standard of proof in these situations is not as strict as it is in a criminal trial. During a criminal trial, prosecutors are required to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In probation violation proceedings, the prosecuting attorney must establish proof by the preponderance of the evidence. This means that he or she must convince the judge that the individual more likely than not violated the terms of their probation.
The right to an attorney
Offenders have the right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney during violation of probation hearings. During these proceedings, attorneys may introduce evidence, question witnesses called by the prosecuting attorney and call witnesses of their own. When the facts suggest that a violation did occur, attorneys could argue that their client did not act willfully and a more lenient approach is warranted.