Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Grant Schwarz.
Oftentimes, getting a probation sentence on a criminal case is considered a victory. This is especially true on more serious crimes and felonies and in most circumstances I would agree however with probation there is always the potential for violating. Violations of probation occur in two situations: Technical and New Law. Examples of technical violations include missing an appointment with your probation officer, failing to make payments of restitution, not completing community service hours and/or failing a drug test. This is by no means a complete list of potential technical violations, but you get the idea; anything short of getting arrested for a new crime is considered “technical”. That leaves, new law violations and you probably guessed it; getting arrested for a new crime while you are on probation will result in a new law violation.
With either a technical violation or a new law violation, a warrant will be issued by the court and you will be taken into custody and usually held without bond until the violation is able to be resolved. Many times, technical violations can be worked out with reinstatements. Other times, new law violations require a trial. These violations of probation trials are known as “Final Hearings”. Final hearings are bench trials which means that the judge hears all the evidence and makes a decision at the end, there are no juries.
At a final hearing, the state attorney is required to present evidence of the violation just like in a trial to prove you guilty of a crime. Proving a violation of probation can actually be pretty difficult for the state, especially when the violation is based on a new law arrest. It is not enough for the state to prove that you were arrested; they need to actually prove the crime.
This can work out very well for you if the arrest was in another county, or even another state where the prosecutor must work extra hard to get witnesses to fly in and testify against you. While the fact that you were arrested might have been good enough to bring you into court on a violation, without the actual evidence of the new offense, the state has no case. Some prosecutors don’t even realize this and lose violation of probation hearings because they cant prove the violation according to the requirements of law. You don’t really need to have an arrest in another state or county stump the state while they’re trying to convict you of violating your probation, the out of state is just an example.
Situation going from bad to worse:
It is very easy to make your situation go from bad to worse. It is never a good thing to be facing a violation of probation for a new law offense. Don’t make matters worse by adding more violations on top of everything by not thinking carefully about your words and actions. The important thing to remember in any criminal case, whether its a VOP or a new case, is to make sure you keep your cool and keep your mouth shut. Remember that even a fish would not get caught if he kept his mouth shut.
Do not ruin your defenses against the new law arrest by making the dumb mistake of creating a new technical violation, which is easy for the state to prove and here is why. Technical violations are often proved by only using the probation officers testimony. Standard probation terms include a condition that you must remain crime free, we understand this. But what some people do not realize is that you need to report to your probation officer if you have had any contact with law enforcement. If you had contact with law enforcement by getting arrested on even a bogus charge, but do not report it to your probation officer, you have just committed a technical violation. Even if the new charge is completely dropped, the failure to report it to the officer will result in a technical violation, a warrant being issued and you will be taken in and held without bond until the violation is resolved.
It is important to keep your mouth shut when it comes to any new law violations. Since you are facing a brand new criminal charge, you still have the right to remain silent. Use it! If you say anything to your probation officer about the new charge, by for example admitting everything, you have just sunk your potential chance at defending the new case and beating the violation.
If you or someone you know are currently facing a violation of probation or think one is coming down the line soon, please contact Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Grant Schwarz for a free consultation.