Florida Probation

Surviving Probation in Florida

Florida Probation: You aren’t the first, and very unlikely to be the last to be sentenced to probation. First breathe a big sigh of relief, that you didn’t go to jail. Then read the terms of your probation very carefully.

Florida Statute on Probation

Chapter 948 of the Florida Statutes governs probation.

There are different levels of probation supervision depending on the severity of the offense.

Once sentenced to probation your absolute goal is to abide by all of the terms and conditions.

Court practices vary slightly by district.

Surviving Probation in Florida

In general, a few common terms and conditions of probation include:

  • Regular in person reporting to a probation office - usually once a week.
  • Pay all fines and court costs in a timely manner -- during the probation period.
  • Pay for your cost of supervision -- in addition to fines and court costs.
  • Perform community service hours as directed -- number of hours depends on the severity of the charge, misdemeanor probation often requires 50 hours of community service.
  • Random urinalysis -- your probation officer may request a sample on any of your visits to his office.
  • No contact with law enforcement.

Additional Terms of Florida Probation Compliance

There may also be many other terms and conditions such as being prohibited from travel; requirement to regularly attend school or work; and being prohibited from frequenting establishments that sell alcohol.

While these requirements and prohibitions might not sound so restrictive, consider how boxed in you would feel if you knew you could go to jail just for crossing the county line. Or suppose your regular trade is tending bar, and now you could go to jail for even setting foot in a bar.

Violation of Florida Probation

Above all during your life as a probationer, the last thing you want to do is be in violation of your probation. You can be violated at any time if you have not fulfilled the obligations set forth in the probation agreement.

Violation of probation is another criminal charge, and the original charge for which you were sentenced to probation is reinstated.

If you are found to be in violation of probation you now have two criminal charges, and there is usually no bond set for a violation of probation charge. So you stay in jail until you see the judge.

Sometimes probationers are reinstated to probation after a violation, providing it was a minor violation and a reasonable argument is made to the judge.

It is a prevalent myth that probationers cannot be violated only for failing to pay fines or supervision costs -- they certainly can find themselves in jail for missing a payment. Even a late payment can trigger a probation violation.

Florida Probation & The Probation Officer

Be aware that your probation officer, although he may seem like a counselor or confidante, is not your friend.

Keep all office visits as business-like as possible, be on time, and answer all questions simply and accurately.

Pay all your fines, court costs, and supervision fees as soon as you possibly can.

Likewise complete your community service hours as quickly as you can.

You might be able to save yourself weeks or months of visits to your probation officer by requesting that the court terminate your probation early.

Even if a provision for early termination of probation is not written in your Florida probation agreement, it might be possible.

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