Have you violated your felony probation? If you have, a recent change in the law may help you avoid a lengthy prison sentence resulting from your violation.
Until recently, section 948.06(2)(a), Florida Statutes (2015), provided if you admitted to a charged violation of probation, the court could “forthwith revoke, modify, or continue” your probation. If the court revoked your probation, then it could issue any sentence which it might have originally imposed before placing you on probation. Therefore, if your underlying offense was a third-degree felony, you faced up to five years in prison for your violation. If your underlying offense was a second-degree felony, at the time of sentencing you faced up to a statutory maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison. And, if your underlying offense was a first-degree felony you faced up to thirty years in prison for your violation of probation.
The good news is substantial amendments to section 948.06 took effect on October 1, 2019. See Ch. 2019-167, § 63, Laws of Florida. The new law added subparagraph (f)1. to section 948.06(2). That section provides:
Except as provided in subparagraph 3. or upon waiver by the probationer, the court shall modify or continue a probationary term upon finding a probationer in violation when any of the following applies:
- The term of supervision is probation.
- The probationer does not qualify as a violent felony offender of special concern, as defined in paragraph (8)(b).
- The violation is a low-risk technical violation, as defined in paragraph (9)(b).
- The court has not previously found the probationer in violation of his or her probation pursuant to a filed violation of probation affidavit during the current term of supervision. A probationer who has successfully completed sanctions through the alternative sanctioning program is eligible for mandatory modification or continuation of his or her probation.