Do Probations Officers Have the Final Say in Violation Accusations?

When facing accusations of violation of probation (VOP) by your probation officer, it can often feel like “he said, she said.” It can be difficult enough to understand your rights when you are on probation and, when dealing with a probation officer who you don’t feel has your best interest at heart, you might begin to feel that you do not have options to defend yourself.

That’s why, if you have been accused of a violation of probation, it’s important to contact one of the probation violation lawyers in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible to protect your rights. Below, we’ll go over just a few of the things you should understand to protect yourself.

Related: Has Your Probation Officer Accused You of Violating Your Probation?

What Constitutes a Violation of Probation in Florida?

Florida law defines a violation of probation as an instance that occurs when a defendant willfully and substantially fails to comply with the terms and conditions of his or her probationary sentence. Whether a violation was both willful and substantial in nature depends on the facts of each individual case and must be proven by the state by the “greater weight of the evidence.”

For example, if a term of probation is that you cannot have alcohol, but you are caught drinking, that is a willful and substantial failure to comply with the terms of your probation. However, failing to comply for reasons such as mental illness, physical illness, or unemployment (in the case of repaying restitution) does not constitute willful or substantial failure.

Some of the most common ways that probation is violated include:

  • Testing positive for a controlled substance;
  • Failing to complete a rehabilitation program;
  • Getting arrested for new or unrelated crimes;
  • Failing to meet certain legally required financial obligations; or
  • Missing an appointment with a probation officer without a valid excuse.

Related: 4 Ways People Accidentally Violate Probation

Who Determines the Punishment for Probation Violation?

In short, your probation officer does not have the final say in an accusation of VOP. Although your probation officer may have been the one to inform you that you are in violation of probation, it’s actually the prosecutor who must prove that you have willfully and substantially failed to comply.

However, despite the absence of a stringent court process, VOP cases are governed by much more strict standards. Under these rules, a Florida prosecutor must only prove that you more than likely violated your probation. Should there be a 51 percent likelihood that you are guilty of the violation, you can be found guilty.

Related: What to Expect if You Violate Your Probation

What Can You Do If You Feel a Probation Officer is Unfairly Targeting You?

Whether or not you feel your probation officer is unfairly targeting you, you should contact a probation violation attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm. An attorney will help mount your defense to prove that your violation was not willful or substantial and provide sound proof and reasoning to change probation officers or file a complaint if you feel targeted.

For a free consultation with one of the probation violation lawyers in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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