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Qualifying Probation Violators Can Now Avoid Prison

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:

  1. The term of supervision is probation.
  2. The probationer does not qualify as a violent felony offender of special concern, as defined in paragraph (8)(b).
  3. The violation is a low-risk technical violation, as defined in paragraph (9)(b).
  4. 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.

Pursuant to the new provisions in subsection 948.06(2)(f)1., if you’ve violated the conditions of your probation, whether through an admission or following a hearing, the court’s sentencing authority is now limited in certain situations to modification or continuation of your probation. See § 948.06(2)(f)2., Fla. Stat. (2019). Therefore, if the listed conditions under the new subsection 948.06(2)(f)1. apply to your case, the court  is no longer authorized to revoke your probation and sentence  you to a long term in prison.  Rather, the court must instead modify or continue your probationary term.  And, in doing so, the court may sentence you to no more than 90 days in the county jail as a special condition of your probation.

As provided in the new section of the law, one of the requirements you must meet to avoid a prison sentence for your violation of probation is that you do not qualify as a “violent felony offender of special concern.”  You are deemed a violent felony offender of special concern and therefore ineligible to benefit from the new law if you are on probation for any of the following offenses:  actual or attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment of a child under 13, or luring or enticing a child; murder, attempted murder or manslaughter; actual or attempted aggravated battery; attempted or sexual battery; actual or attempted lewd or lascivious battery/conduct/exhibition; actual or attempted robbery or carjacking; actual or attempted lewd or lascivious offenses involving the elderly or disabled; actual or attempted sexual performance by a child; child pornography; poisoning food or water; abuse of a dead body; any actual or attempted second or first degree felony burglary; arson or attempted arson; aggravated assault or stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; Treason; and any offense committed in another jurisdiction which would constitute a listed offense if committed in this state.

A second requirement you must meet to avoid a prison sentence for your violation is that your violation is a “low-risk technical violation.”  Low-risk technical violations include positive drug/alcohol tests; failing to report to your probation office or to report a change in address or other required information; failing to attend required classes, treatment or counseling sessions/meetings; failing to submit to a drug/alcohol test; curfew violations; failing to satisfy monthly quotas for probation conditions such as restitution, court costs or community service hours; leaving the county without permission; failing to report a change in employment; and associating with others engaged in criminal activity.

If you’re facing arrest for violating your felony probation, I can help you get the benefit of the new law and avoid going to prison if you meet the following criteria:  (1) you are on probation and not community control; (2) you are not a “violent felony offender of special concern”; (3) your alleged violation is a “low-risk technical violation”; and (4) you’ve not been previously found in violation of your probation.  If you are about to be, or have been, arrested for violating your probation in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Yulee, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Orange Park, Macclenny or surrounding areas, you should immediately consult with a Jacksonville Violation of Probation Attorney to help you get the best possible result in your case.  Call me now for a free consultation to discuss how I can best help you with your violation of probation case.

 

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