If you were sentenced to a term of probation following a conviction for a criminal offense in the State of Florida you were likely ordered to comply with a number of conditions while on probation. One of those conditions was reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis. One of the most common probation related questions we hear is “ I missed my probation appointment in Florida – What will happen? ” While there is no universal answer to that question there are some common factors that will help determine what happens.
People often fail to understand the details of their sentence when they are sentenced to probation. For this reason, they are particularly shocked about the possible outcome of a probation violation. Typically, a defendant is actually sentenced to a term of incarceration but that term is suspended, meaning the defendant does not have to serve the time in jail, and the defendant is ordered to serve the time on probation instead. If, however, the defendant fails to successfully complete probation, a judge may order that all of the “back-up” time be served in jail or prison.
Successfully completing your probation means abiding by all the terms and conditions as set forth by the court. Among the standard terms of probation is the condition that you report to a probation officer as directed. If you missed an appointment without notifying your officer ahead of time and obtaining permission to reschedule your officer could file a violation with the court. The judge will then set the matter for a hearing. At the violation hearing, you are entitled to be represented by an attorney. After hearing from both sides the judge will decide whether or not you have violated your probation. If the judge does violate you, the judge can do one of three things:
- Continue you on probation with no changes
- Continue you on probation with modification of terms and conditions
- Revoke your probation and order you to serve some, or all, of your “back-up” time.
The judge will likely consider a number of factors when deciding which one of the three to do, including, but not limited to:
- Your reason for missing the appointment. If you had an emergency, were sick, could not get off work, or had a similar valid reason you should bring proof to the hearing.
- Your probation record prior to the violation. If you were in compliance and had completed most of your conditions the judge may be more lenient.
- Your previous record while on probation. Did you violate a previous probation? Was that probation eventually revoked? If so, the judge may not be inclined to be lenient this time around.
- Your probation officer's opinion. Often, your officer's opinion is the deciding factor when a judge is “on the fence”.
If you missed a probation appointment it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Powers, Sellers, & Finkelstein PLC by calling 727-531-2926 today to schedule your appointment.