August 15, 2018
Probation sentences are common for a variety of charges in the state of Florida. Abiding by the regulations of your probation sentence can be a legally demanding process; do not let yourself get confused by complex legal jargon. It is important that you take steps to learn as much as you can about your probation requirements. Failure to follow the proper guidelines could result in a probation violation.
We have taken the time to research some of the most common myths about probation sentencing in the state of Florida. Do not fall victim to misinformation—you deserve to keep yourself safe.
Myth: Probation Is Free
One of the most misguided myths you’ll find is the notion that probation services are provided free of charge. Probation work requires a multitude of services and equipment that doesn’t come cheaply. Instead of shifting the burden to taxpayers, offenders are often required to pay for the probationary services they receive.
The overall cost can vary between counties. An example of probation fees can be found on the Sumter County website. This Florida county breaks down the exact pricing requirements for each of their different probation services. You will notice separate fees for GPS tracking, drug screening, and general monthly service charges, for example.
Myth: You Can Get in Trouble for Police Contact While on Probation
This is one of the most harmful myths around. The police are available for anyone who needs help. Being on probation is no grounds for avoiding law enforcement officers. If you’re in a position that would normally warrant police intervention, your probationary status changes nothing.
Those who take the time to report things like civil infractions or traffic accidents are in no way violating their probationary requirements. Your probation status will in no way hinder your right to report lawful violations and concerns to the police. Simple contact with the police is not a viable reason to be considered as a probation violation.
Myth: You Can Be Arrested for Not Paying Financial Probation Obligations
This is generally untrue. The inability to meet your financial obligations assigned for probationary costs is not in itself grounds for a violation. There are some cases, however, in which refusing to pay may warrant a violation.
The ruling was determined in the Supreme Court case of State v. Carter. In order for an individual to be charged with a violation, the lack of payment must be “willful and substantial.” Actively refusing to pay requires intent, while a lack of financial resources does not.
Best Practices for Probation
It’s crucial to understand the demands of your probation sentence. Take the time to sit down and fully evaluate the list of requirements. It is in your best interest to prioritize self-education on all of the legal requirements of your sentencing.
The order or sentence should lay out the rules and expectations in clear, accessible language. It’s necessary to follow the guidelines of your probation precisely and promptly. Abide by any curfews, avoid taking forbidden substances, and always report to your probation officer on the agreed upon time.
One of the best actions you can take is to be completely up-front and honest during probation. In the event you have committed a violation of your probation requirements, it’s in your best interest to report the violation to your probation officer. Honest communication is necessary for ensuring your best possible outcome, and defendants who embrace the terms of their probation with honesty and integrity are well-positioned for future success.
Find out more about probation by calling us at (727) 269-5300 or writing us via our online contact form.