What Happens if You Violate Probation? 

Probation is a type of criminal sentencing where you’re under court supervision as an alternative to going to jail or after you’ve been released on parole. The judge presiding over your case will determine the conditions of your probation, and you must follow these parameters for the entire length of probation. You’ll have a probation officer assigned to you who will ensure you’re following the conditions of your probation. If your probation officer or other law enforcement official has reasonable grounds to believe you’ve broken or violated the terms of your probation, you could be charged with violation of probation (VOP) and face additional sentencing. Florida Statute 948.06 discusses the terms, conditions, and consequences of violating probation. Here’s what you need to know about what happens when you violate probation in Florida. 

Types of Violations 

The two types of probation violations are technical and substantive. Technical VOP occurs when you fail to follow the terms of your probation. Substantive violations happen when you commit a new crime and face new charges. Examples of probation violations include (but aren’t limited to): 

  • Committing a new crime
  • Missing appointments with your probation officer without warning or excuse  
  • Failing to attend court hearings
  • Not meeting all required community service hours 
  • Non-payment of fines or restitution
  • Frequenting places or interacting with people known for criminal activity 
  • Not fulfilling probation requirements regarding employment or education
  • Testing positive for drugs during a random drug screening 
  • Missing or breaking curfew 
  • Leaving the local area without permission 
  • Failing to complete court-ordered rehabilitation programs

Violation of Probation Process 

 Here are the actions that are taken once your probation officer or law enforcement official believes you’ve violated your probation:

1. Submit an Affidavit of Violation

Your probation officer will submit an affidavit of affidavit of violation when you violate probation. In this affidavit, your probation officer will detail the violation and what part of your probation you broke. Your probation officer will also include any evidence of the violation. 

2. Judge Review

A judge in the criminal court will review the affidavit and then determine if they will issue a notice of appearance or issue a warrant for your arrest. 

 3. VOP Hearing 

After being arrested, a hearing date will be scheduled. VOP hearings differ significantly from trials or hearings following an original arrest. The State has a lower standard of proof for demonstrating guilt, which could result in severe consequences. You forfeit some of the protections you had during your initial criminal trial. For instance, your probation officer could be the only witness called to give testimony, and hearsay is allowed, but hearsay is not the only basis of proof used to prove the violation. Your own statements may be used against you.  You will not have a jury trial. The prosecutor could also call you to testify in your own VOP hearing. 

The most significant difference from your initial criminal hearing is that the burden of proof in a VOP hearing is a much lower standard. In a violation of probation hearing the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence and not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. That means the State only needs to persuade a judge that your probation violation more than likely occurred.    

Penalties for Probation Violation 

There are three types of penalties for probation violations. The judge can decide to reinstate probation, modify it, or revoke it. Reinstating probation allows you to continue probation as initially ordered, essentially letting you off with a warning. Reinstating probation is rare. More commonly, your probation will be modified—with stricter terms. Revoking probation comes with the harshest consequences. Probation is ordered as an alternative to jail time. If your probation is revoked, you’ll be found guilty of the crime you were initially charged for. Then, you will be sentenced based on the penalties of crime you originally committed.

Legal Representation for Criminal and Probation Offenses 

If you have been charged with violating your probation you could be facing serious consequences. It is important to seek help and guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney like Attorney Alison M. Lopes from the Law Offices of Alison M. Lopes, P.A. Our Orlando criminal defense attorney is experienced and will fight to defend your rights.  Call our office at 407-442-2724 to schedule a consultation.