Avoiding a Violation of Probation

Unlike some states, Florida does not give credit for the time spent on probation, nor is the jail or prison time limited to the amount of time the person has remaining on his probation. This is a common myth. However, sometimes, with the help of a competent attorney, some defendants may be able to persuade the Judge to reinstate them to probation if they’ve taken all steps possible to mitigate their violation.

Probation is expensive. In addition to the $55 monthly fee, presumptive breath tests for alcohol are roughly $15 each; urine screenings for drugs are at least $25 each. If someone’s probation requires them to be electronically monitored, that fee is roughly $105 per week depending on what county they are in.

Not adhering to any one of the conditions of probation can result in re-arrest and serious consequences. Depending on the Judge, those consequences may include jail or prison time. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been on probation. If a person is in their 23rd month of a 24-month probation, if they’ve violated their probation, they may be sent to jail or prison for the same term of incarceration they could have been sentenced, and sometimes more, for the original charges

If someone is genuinely struggling financially and can’t pay their cost of supervision or their court cost, they should tell their probation officer. The probation officer may submit a request to the court to either lower the costs of supervision or even ask the court to waive it.

A judge may also impose a “lien” for court costs or fines if a person cannot pay these costs. If a lien is imposed the probationer must set up a payment plan within a set period of time from sentencing otherwise their driver’s license privileges will be suspended. To qualify for a lien, the probationer must be looking diligently for work, have a job or be going to school.

As a rule, people do not go to jail for not being able to meet the financial obligations of probation. The standard for a violation of probation is it must be “substantial and willful.”

Someone who is on probation should not associate with convicted felons or “hang out” at certain bars or other locations that are known places where illicit substances are sold.

This brings up reporting interaction with police. Every month people on probation check in with their probation officer and fill out a questionnaire. One of the questions is about whether they have come into contact with a law enforcement officer.

Sometimes, this question sets off alarms. People may be afraid that if they report having interacted with a police officer they will automatically violate their probation.

However, if someone fails to disclose contact with police to the probationer may be considered as being less than truthful with their PO, even for not revealing a simple civil infraction/speeding ticket. This may subject them to
being violated for not telling the truth to their probation officer. It’s almost as bad as getting arrested for a new offense.

Be honest. Simply reporting a crash or civil infraction, will not get a person’s probation violated. On the other hand, if a probationer gets a criminal traffic citation or even a notice to appear on a criminal misdemeanor, say, for example, for misdemeanor marijuana possession, they most likely will have a VOP warrant issued against them.

Failing a drug or alcohol test is almost certain to land a probationer in jail with a likelihood of not being given a bond.

There are occasions when someone has technically violated probation but their PO will set up a meeting with the Judge where the probationer will be reprimanded and if this same behavior happens again, their probation will be violated.

If you are accused of violating your probation, your best option is to contact Criminal Defense Attorney Neil C. Kerch so I can defend the matter on your behalf.


This post is only general information and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. You should only use this post to familiarize yourself with the criminal justice process in Florida. Importantly, each case is unique and will not necessarily be handled in the same manner as described in this post. Please contact Neil C. Kerch for a free initial case consultation if you have specific questions regarding your involvement with the criminal justice system.

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