Violation of Probation

The key to obtaining the best result in a violation of probation case is not just having an excuse, but being able to prove through relevant documents and testimony the reasons for the violation and how you plan to come into compliance if given another chance.

Most probation violation cases are resolved with an “admission” that the defendant violated probation. Sometimes the defendant admits to the VOP without understanding important legal defenses that might exist in the case.

For example, the violation must be “willful” and “substantial,” as opposed to “inadvertent” and “trivial.” Even if no legal defense exists, the outcome may be far better when an experienced attorney can present mitigating or favorable information to the court.

Perhaps most importantly, an attorney in Hillsborough County might be able to file a motion to have your violation of probation case put on the judge’s calendar sooner. In fact, if the emergency bond motion is filed before noon, the attorney can often schedule the hearing for the next business day.

Without an attorney taking steps to get a sooner court date, you might sit in jail for weeks before the next court date.

Violations of probation cases can be classified as violations of the following types of cases:

  • misdemeanor probation;
  • felony probation;
  • drug offender probation;
  • community control;
  • juvenile commitment; or
  • violation of juvenile community control imposed as a consequence of a juvenile having been sentenced as an adult.

Not only do we represent clients accused of violating probation, but we also help clients who want to:

  • modify or change the terms of their probation or community control;
  • obtain permission to travel; or
  • seek early termination of probation or community control.

If you are on probation, our goal is to help you resolve any allegation that you violated probation or parole so that you can finish your sentence and move on with your life.

Attorney for a Violation of Probation Cases in Tampa, FL

If you believe your probation officer is going to say that you violated your felony or misdemeanor probation, then contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

In some cases, the court might enter an order rescinding the warrant, especially if you come into compliance by completing all special conditions of probation. Getting the warrant rescinded is the only way to avoid going into custody.

Our offices are located in downtown Tampa, just a few blocks from the courthouse. We also have offices in New Port Richey across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center and in Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.

The five attorneys in our office focus exclusively on criminal defense. A large portion of our practice is devoted to probation and parole violation cases. We fight for our clients charged with violation of probation cases at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County.

We also represent clients in VOP cases for all misdemeanors, felonies, and DUI cases in all the counties in the greater Tampa Bay area, including Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, Manatee County, and Polk County.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm to speak with us about your felony, misdemeanor DUI case for violation of probation or parole.

Call 813-250-0500.

Avoiding the Typical Result in a VOP Case

After the probation officer submits the paperwork for the violation of probation (“VOP”), the judge can grant a bond. Although the judge is permitted to set a bond amount, the judge might issue a “no bond” warrant. A “no bond” warrant means that you will sit in jail until your case is resolved without the option of bonding out of custody.

A recent investigative report on how violation of probation cases are resolved in Hillsborough County, FL, published on Feb 26, 2020, found:

Of Hillsborough’s 7,969 [probation] violations, 69 percent did not allege the commission of any new criminal offense. Despite the lack of a new offense, 40 percent of these technical violations resulted in jail or prison time.

In addition, according to Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, imprisonment rates for technical violations statewide fell from 33.7 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year to 31.9 percent in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The 13th Circuit’s imprisonment rate [in Tampa, FL] for such violations remains well above the state average.

In some cases, a person arrested on a VOP warrant will sit in jail for weeks or months until the case is resolved.

Keep in mind that Hillsborough County just launched a new electronic warrant pilot program which means that a VOP warrant can be issued and entered into the system much faster. The fact that violation of probation cases in Hillsborough County are expedited does not always work in the defendant’s favor.

As a result, it is common for people who believe they will be arrested for violation of probation to stop reporting to their probation officer. Some individuals even flee from their homes to avoid being arrested on the VOP arrest warrant. Failing to report to your probation officer or absconding only makes the matter worse by causing additional grounds for the violation.

If the court knows that you failed to report or absconded, the court may be less inclined to give you another chance at successfully completing your probation when you are eventually picked up on the warrant and brought before the judge.

Some VOP cases involve a warrantless arrest for violation of probation and community control after an allegation that you committed a new crime. This detention is often called the “COP VOP” because the law enforcement officer, instead of the probation officer, triggered the violation through a probable cause affidavit.

Either way, the best results in a VOP case in Tampa, FL, occur when you take a proactive approach to resolving the case. You need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney focused on probation violations to help you resolve the case.

How Attorneys Defend Clients Accused of Probation Violations

If the VOP affidavit has not yet been submitted to the judge, then your attorney can contact your probation officer on your behalf and request additional time to allow you to come into compliance with the terms of your probation.

The probation officers have wide discretion in these matters. Your attorney might also be able to help you come into compliance faster and avoid the violation entirely. Even if a VOP warrant was issued, the probation officer might be able to submit a request to rescind the warrant. If the court enters an order rescinding the warrant then you will be given another chance to complete probation.

If getting the warrant rescinded is not an option, your attorney can file a “motion for surrender” you in the courtroom. At the hearing on the motion, you can appear in court to surrender on the VOP warrant so that the judge can set a reasonable bond in the case, dismiss the allegation, or release you on your own recognizance (ROR).

Alternatively, an attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself at the jail on the violation of probation warrant, and then represent you at your first appearance hearing the next morning.

Your attorney can schedule an emergency bond hearing to give you the best chance of having your case resolved quickly if you are not released after your first appearance court date. Sometimes the court will agree to a bond or ROR so that you can have time to come into compliance with any outstanding terms before your next court date.

Even if the court is not inclined to grant a bond, the court may be inclined to resolve the case that day. The best result might be dismissing the VOP affidavit or reinstating the probation to give you another chance to complete the special conditions of probation.

Since the COVID-19 global pandemic and health crisis began, VOP hearings have been classified as “mission-critical” hearings that were sometimes conducted over Zoom.

After those restrictions were lifted, the court has continued to have “remote” hearings over Zoom from some types of hearings when the defendant is in custody. Although even for remote hearings over Zoom, the attorney is still permitted to show up in the courtroom in person.

Contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm at (813) 250-0500 today to get advice on your best options for resolving the probation or parole violation case.

Statistics on Violation of Probation Cases in Florida

If you are facing an allegation of a probation violation, then you are not alone. As of June 30, 2017, the Florida Department of Corrections listed approximately 167,000 people who were on active felony probation. The Tampa Office of the Department of Corrections has 12,010 offenders under supervision in Hillsborough County alone.

Of those, nearly 30,000 probationers had allegations of a probation violation pending because they violated their VOP order. The number of individuals on misdemeanor probation with pending probation violations is even higher. Many of those probationers with an active VOP warrant live out of state and might be subject to the extradition process.

Extradition for a probation violation case occurs when the person will be arrested in another state and then held until Florida comes to pick them up to transport them back to the county where the warrant originated.

If a person is arrested on the VOP warrant, the sheriff’s office in one county will hold the inmate until he is transported back to the county where the warrant originated.

Violation of probation statistics in Florida shows that Probation Officers collected more than $72 million from probationers in restitution and other costs in FY 2013-14.

The State Courts Administrator defines the term “Probation Revocation Hearings” to mean a probation revocation hearing is a proceeding in which a judge determines whether a defendant’s probation should be modified or revoked following an alleged violation.

According to the statistics kept in the statistical reference guide for FY 2014-15, the Florida Office of State Court Administrators found that the following total number of Circuit Criminal Special Proceedings were filed in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County included 8,518 Probation Revocation Hearings while the statewide total was 71,172.

Bond Reduction Motions in VOP Cases in Hillsborough County

Administrative Order S-2014-057 for Criminal Justice Division Procedures in Hillsborough County, FL, became effective on January 1, 2015. Section 10 of the administrative order on “Bond Reduction and Release on Recognizance” provides:

In cases involving an alleged VOP, applications for modification of bail will be submitted to the judge assigned to the division in which the alleged violation is pending or scheduled.

Applications for modification of bail in such cases will not be heard at first appearance or in Division “O” without the specific concurrence of the judge assigned the violation, or in that judge’s absence, the administrative judge of the Criminal Justice Division, an associate administrative judge or the chief judge.

If defense counsel schedules a hearing for a reduction of bond or release on recognizance, defense counsel will notify the defendant’s probation officer of the scheduled hearing so that probation information can be made available for the hearing.

The administrative order defines the term “VOP” provides in Section 1(n):

VOP means a violation of probation, violation of drug offender probation, violation of community control, and violation of juvenile commitment or violation of juvenile community control imposed as a consequence of a juvenile having been sentenced as an adult.

In many felony and misdemeanor violation of probation cases, the court will refuse to set any bond. The defendant may be detained on a pretrial basis if the defendant was on probation, parole, or another form of release pending completion of sentence or on pretrial release for a dangerous crime at the time the current offense was committed.

The Definition of Technical and Substantive Violations

Violations of probation can be divided into two categories:

  • The term “technical violation” is defined as a violation of a term or condition of the probation that does not involve an allegation that you were arrested or committed a new law violation. Technical violations of probation can include failing to pay restitution, fines, or court costs, failing to complete community service, failing a urine test, or failing to meet with your probation officer.
  • The term “substantive violation” is defined to include any new arrest on a law violation that occurred after you were put on probation including any felony or a misdemeanor criminal offense. In some cases, the probationer will be arrested on a warrant for a crime that allegedly occurred before the person was put on probation which should not be counted as a violation of probation.

The Circuit and County Courts throughout the State of Florida, each has different policies and procedures for handling accusations of violation of probation.

For example, a motion to surrender may be available for a misdemeanor or felony violation of probation in Hillsborough County, but not for a particular judge in Pinellas County, Pasco County, or Polk County.

Keep in mind that the rules of discovery and discovery violations, including the requirement of a Richardson hearing to consider discovery violations apply in violation of probation hearings, just as in trials. Bellamy v. State, 901 So.2d 340 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

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Hillsborough County’s VOP Judge – The Honorable Nick Nazaretian

In Hillsborough County, the vast majority of felony violation of probation accusations for technical violations or a substantive violation resulting from an arrest for any misdemeanor offense are handled in Division K by the Honorable Nick Nazaretian.

Division K was created in order to have one courtroom in Hillsborough County, Florida, to deal with the vast majority of violation of probation cases in a more expedited manner.

The Honorable Nick Nazaretian was appointed by Governor Rick Scott on December 16, 2011, replacing Wayne S. Timmerman. In 2014, he was re-elected without opposition for a six-year term that expires on January 4, 2021. Prior to becoming a Circuit Court Judge, he served as a County Court Judge in Hillsborough County since 2001.

Dubbed the “Excuse Court” by the local media, Judge Nick Nazaretian has heard every excuse in the book. Because judges handle so many violations of probation cases, they can quickly access information about the case from the bench including the probation officer’s file, jail records, inmate visitation records, and criminal history information on the defendant and other people that associate with the defendant.

If you sit in the courtroom long enough, you will be amazed at the number of individuals that lie to the court and then admit the lie when confronted. If you choose to speak to the court about the allegations, be truthful. If you hire an attorney, be truthful with the attorney when discussing the facts of the case.

If telling the truth is not in your best interest, then simply refuse to answer the question by remaining silent. Keeping your mouth shut and letting your attorney do the talking is often the best course of action.

Watch an informative video with Judge Nick Nazaretian on the impact COVID-19 is having on the courts and violation of probation (VOP) hearings.

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What is the maximum prison sentence you can get for felony violating probation?

Prior to October 1, 2019, Section 948.06(2)(a), Florida Statutes, provided that if a person on probation admitted to a charged violation of probation, the court could “forthwith revoke, modify, or continue” the probation.

If the court revoked the probation, then it could issue “any sentence which it might have originally imposed before placing the probationer on probation.” §948.06(2)(b), Fla. Stat.

For a second-degree felony, for example, at the time of sentencing, the defendant faced up to a statutory maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison. See § 775.082(3)(d), Fla. Stat. The same options were available if, after a hearing, a probationer was found to have violated a condition of probation. See § 948.06(2)(e), Fla. Stat.

Effective October 1, 2019, the Florida Legislature passed a law that amended section 948.06. See Ch. 2019-167, § 63, Laws of Florida. The new law added subparagraph (f)1. to section 948.06(2), and it states:

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:

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

(Emphasis added).

Pursuant to the new provisions in subsection 948.06(2)(f)1., after finding a probationer has violated the conditions of probation, whether through admitting the violation or being found in violation at a hearing, a court’s sentencing authority is limited in certain situations to modification or continuation of the probation. See § 948.06(2)(f)2., Fla. Stat. (2019).

When the listed conditions under the new subsection 948.06(2)(f)1. apply, a court is no longer authorized to revoke probation and impose a prison sentence. Instead, the court must “modify or continue a probationary term” and may impose no more than “90 days in county jail.” §§ 948.06(2)(f)1.-2., Fla. Stat. (2019).

If the “probationer has less than 90 days of supervision remaining on his or her term of probation,” then probation can be revoked and a jail sentence of up to 90 days can be imposed. § 948.06(2)(f)3., Fla. Stat. (2019).

In Owens v. State (1st District. Case No. 1D20-540. August 25, 2020), the court held that the Florida Legislature meant “all” rather than the literal “any” which is buttressed by the new subsection 948.06(2)(f)3., which now allows no more than a 90 day jail sentence “if a probationer has less than 90 days of supervision remaining on his or her term of probation and meets the criteria for mandatory modification or continuation in subparagraph 1.”

If any of the four conditions under the new subsection 948.06(2)(f)1 do not apply, then either after a hearing or after entering an “admission,” the court can sentence you to any sentence that could have originally been imposed, which means that you can receive the statutory maximum sentence for that particular offense or offenses.

So for a VOP on a third-degree felony, you could get up to five years in prison, for a second-degree felony, you could get up to 15 years in prison, or for a first degree felony, you could get up to 30 years in prison.

The court, however, has other options besides prison. For example, the court can modify your probation to lengthen the term of probation or to add provisions for a more intensive drug treatment program or additional community service hours.

The Florida Department of Corrections supervises different types of probation and parole, including community control, sex offender probation, and drug offender probation.

If you have been arrested for violating probation, violating sex offender probation, or violating drug offender probation, contact an experienced Tampa Probation Attorney to discuss your case.

Defenses to Violation of Probation Allegations in Hillsborough County, FL

An experienced lawyer can help you assert important defenses during the Violation of Probation Hearing. During the hearing, the court is required to review each allegation of violation on a case-by-case basis to determine under the particular facts and circumstances of the case, whether a particular violation is willful and substantial by the greater weight of the evidence.

The evidence comes in the form of documents admitted into the record and testimony from witnesses that appear in court.

The violation of probation in Florida is not willful or substantial if the individual makes reasonable efforts to comply with the conditions of probation, but fails to comply because of some factor out of the individual’s control such as a medical emergency or mental illness. Likewise, the violation of probation might not be willful if the individual was told or otherwise led to believe that his probation was over and that he was no longer required to report.

The failure to submit one monthly report or to submit the report late may not be substantial when the individual is otherwise in compliance with the terms of his probation. A curfew violation might not be a substantial violation of probation if the individual was not at his residence at the required time due to unexpected car trouble or other circumstance out of his control.

Finally, probation cannot be revoked or its terms modified for violating an invalid condition. Aviles v. State, 165 So. 3d 841, 843 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) (citing White v. State, 619 So. 2d 429, 431 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); Odom v. State, 15 So. 3d 672, 681 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009)).

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Types of Probation Violations in Florida

A violation of probation can occur for a number of reasons including:

  • failing to report to the probation officer for monthly meetings;
  • failing to pay Court Costs, Fines, Restitution, or Cost of Supervision;
  • not being truthful to the probation officer;
  • not completing the minimum number of community service hours required in a particular month;
  • not following the instructions of the probation officer;
  • moving from an approved residence without permission;
  • changing employment without notifying the probation officer;
  • failure to comply with the terms of the curfew;
  • leaving the county or state without permission from the probation officer;
  • failure to successfully complete a counseling program such as “Anger Management” or the “Batterer’s Intervention Program”;
  • deviating from the community control schedule or approved travel routes without permission;
  • leaving the GPS tracking device behind;
  • violation for getting arrested on a new misdemeanor offense;
  • violation of a county ordinance; or
  • substantive violation for a new felony arrest.

The most serious VOP cases involve a new felony arrest. If the State Attorney’s Offices formally files the new charges, then the defendant might be required to answer the violation of probation charges in the felony division where the sentencing originally took place.

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Consequences of Being Found in Violation of Probation

The court usually has many different options if the probationer is found to be in violation. Those options include:

  • WORSE CASE: The Court can revoke and terminate the probation, adjudicate you guilty of the underlying offense (enter a conviction) and impose a sentence of jail or prison time which can be up to the statutory maximum for the offense, which was the maximum punishment that you could have received at sentencing if you had not been sentenced to probation.
  • BEST CASE: The court can dismiss the allegation of violation of probation which puts you back in the same position you would have been in if the violation of probation had never been alleged.
  • OTHER OPTIONS: The Court can find you in violation of probation, extend the time that you are on probation, and impose additional special conditions, such as additional community service, counseling, and a residential drug program with follow-up treatment.

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Local Procedures and Rules for Hillsborough County VOP Cases

In a violation of probation or parole case, there is no jury trial and the burden of proof is merely a preponderance of the evidence (not the higher “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard). Consequently, prosecutors often have an easier time showing that the violation of probation occurred.

In Hillsborough County, a violation of probation arising in a standard division based on a technical violation not involving a new felony charge will be scheduled and disposed of in Circuit Criminal Division “K”.

If the VOP case involves a new misdemeanor charge violation, then all VOP matters arising in any standard division, including the new misdemeanor charge, will be scheduled and disposed of in Division “K.”

If the defendant is on felony probation and misdemeanor probation when a new misdemeanor charge is allegedly committed by the defendant, any VOP arising in a county criminal division will be scheduled and disposed of in Division “K.”

The judge assigned to Division “K” is hereby appointed as an acting county court judge for the purpose of presiding over such misdemeanor charges.

The judge in Division K will also review any proposed warrants for any technical VOP and for any alleged violation involving a new misdemeanor charge. The probation officer will present the proposed arrest warrant and affidavit of violation of probation to the judge assigned to Division “K” for review and action.

If the violation of probation allegation in Hillsborough County alleges that the probationer committed a new felony law violation resulting in an arrest, then the VOP case will be resolved in the standard division in which the case was last pending.

Any violation of probation (VOP) matter in courthouses in Tampa, FL, arising in a standard division as a result of any alleged violation involving a new felony charge and an alleged technical violation will be filed and disposed of in the standard division in which the case was last pending.

All violation of probation (VOP) matters arising in Circuit Criminal Division “Y” as a result of any alleged violation will be filed and disposed of in Division “Y” and handled according to the administrative procedures for Drug Court in Tampa, FL.

Can the Judge Modify or Enhance Probation without a Violation Hearing

If the judge improperly extends the period of probation without having a probation hearing? Before enhancing the probationary terms, the trial court must comply with the requirements of section 948.06. Section 948.06(1)(b) requires that the Department of Corrections file an affidavit of violation and serve the probationer with either a warrant or a notice to appear.

In some cases, the Department of Corrections is permitted to submit a notification letter of a technical violation in lieu of a violation report as permitted by section 948.06(1)(e). But even in those cases, section 948.06(2) still requires that the trial court conduct a hearing before any violation may be found and before any modification to the terms of probation may be made.

While a trial judge who receives a notification letter of a technical violation may have various options available for dealing with that notification letter, bypassing the notification and hearing requirements of section 948.06 is not one of those options if the court intends to modify any of the terms of probation.

Read more about limitations on the court’s discretion if the plea agreement included a “hammer clause” with a stipulation on the consequences of a violation of probation.

What happens if the probation expires before the violation affidavit was filed?

If the probation expires before the violation affidavit is filed, then the court loses jurisdiction to revoke or modify or extend the probation. A motion to dismiss can be filed to address this jurisdictional issue in front of the judge at any VOP hearing if the court tried to take any action after probation has expired.

If a proper appeal is filed, the appellate court should vacate the order of revoking, modifying or extending the probation and any resulting revocation order, adjudication of guilt, and sentence.

In order for the court to modify, extend or revoke probation, an affidavit of violation of probation must be filed and a warrant for arrest or notice to appear must be served on the defendant with an opportunity to address the issue during a hearing the alleged violation.

The Florida Supreme Court addressed the issue in Lippman v. State, 633 So.2d 1061 (Fla.1994). In that case, the Department of Corrections filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that Lippman violated three conditions of his probation. Id. at 1062–63.

The trial court found that the allegations did not relate to valid conditions of Lippman’s probation, and it refused to find Lippman in violation. Id. at 1063.

When the State made an oral motion to modify Lippman’s probation to “clarify” the conditions of his probation, the trial court modified certain conditions of Lippman’s probation in such a way that Lippman was forced to leave his employment, move from his residence, and have no contact with his siblings. Id.

Lippman’s modified probation was subsequently revoked after he had contact with his siblings, and he was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Id. In finding that the modification of the conditions of Lippman’s probation was unauthorized, the Florida Supreme Court explained:

Both the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution guarantee that no individual will be put in jeopardy more than once for the same offense. The guarantee against double jeopardy consists of three separate constitutional protections:

“It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal. It protects against a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction. And it protects against multiple punishments for the same offense.” North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969) (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added).

Under the third protection against multiple punishments for the same offense, probation is a sentence in Florida. Larson v. State, 572 So.2d 1368, 1370 (Fla.1991). Thus, the double jeopardy protection against multiple punishments includes the protection against enhancements or extensions of the conditions of probation. See Williams v. State, 578 So.2d 846 (Fla. 4th DCA 1991) (finding that extension of the probationary period at subsequent restitution hearing when sentence already imposed at earlier sentencing hearing violated double jeopardy).

Section 948.06, Florida Statutes (1987), “provides the sole means by which the court may place additional terms on a previously entered order of probation or community control.” Clark v. State, 579 So.2d 109, 110 (Fla.1991).

Before probation may be enhanced, a violation of probation must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge. Id. at 110–11; § 948.06(1), Fla. Stat. (1987).

Absent proof of a violation, the court cannot change an order of probation by enhancing the terms. Clark, 579 So.2d at 110–11. In the instant case, the court specifically found no violation of probation, yet proceeded to enhance the terms of Lippman’s probation. This violated the double jeopardy prohibition against multiple punishments for the same offense.

Thus, the order modifying probation must be vacated. The consequences that resulted from Lippman’s violation of that modified probation must be vacated as well, including the order revoking probation, the adjudication of guilt, and the sentence imposed.

Lippman, 633 So.2d at 1064 (emphasis added; footnotes omitted).

When making the ruling, the Lippman court relied on Clark v. State, 579 So.2d 109, 110–11 (Fla.1991), which held, in pertinent part:

Before probation or community control may be enhanced, either by extension of the period or by addition of terms, a violation of probation or community control must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge following the procedures of section 948.06.

Absent proof of a violation, the court cannot change an order of probation or community control by enhancing the terms thereof, even if the defendant has agreed in writing with his probation officer to allow such a modification and has waived notice and hearing.

In Nichols v. State, 672 So.2d 825, 825 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995), the court found that “[a]bsent proof of a violation of probation, a trial court cannot modify an order of probation by enhancing its terms.”

Likewise, in Eddie v. State, 933 So.2d 570, 571 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), the court found that “[b]efore probation may be enhanced, either by extension of the period or by addition of terms, a violation of probation must be formally charged and the probationer must be brought before the court and advised of the charge, following the procedures of section 948.06, Florida Statutes (1993).”

Finally, in Frederick v. State, 405 So.2d 1344, 1345 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), the court held that the trial court’s sua sponte order that purported to modify the defendant’s probation violated double jeopardy and was also an unauthorized extension under section 948.06).

Such a modification is not allowed even:

  • if the trial court has specifically reserved jurisdiction for the purpose of adding a special condition [see Dennis v. State, 630 So.2d 605 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993)]; or
  • when the defendant has agreed in writing with his probation officer to allow such a modification and has waived notice and hearing [Clark, 579 So.2d at 111].

Although the Statute of Limitations doesn’t apply to a violation of probation, the court might lose jurisdiction over the case if the VOP warrant is not issued and served before the probation period expires.

If you think you were on probation for too long, talk with a criminal defense attorney about whether a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction can be filed in your VOP case.

The Probation Violation Hearing (PVH) in Florida

In a Probation Violation Hearing (PVH), the defendant faces the maximum statutory sentence permitted for the underlying offense. The State is required to prove that the defendant violated his or her probation by a preponderance of the evidence.

The State may use hearsay in meeting its burden, so long as the hearsay is corroborated by admissible evidence. Russell v. State, 982 So.2d 642, 646 (Fla. 2008).

At the hearing on the probation violation, either side may introduce hearsay evidence. The court is the trier of fact, requiring it to weigh the evidence presented and render a decision.

The State is often permitted to call the Defendant to the witness stand to establish that the person before the court is the person on probation or the person who committed a new offense while on probation. See E.P. v. State, 901 So.2d 193 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

In Perry v. State, 778 So.2d 1072 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001), the court found that the Probationer has no Fifth Amendment privilege to refuse to answer questions that would disclose a violation if called by the State as a witness in a probation violation hearing. In other cases, the courts have found that Fifth Amendment privileges do apply.

Misdemeanor Probation Services in Hillsborough County, FL

Update – As of October of 2015, the Salvation Army is no longer managing misdemeanor probation services in Hillsborough County. Instead, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is now overseeing that service and providing supervision and rehabilitative services to misdemeanor probationers.

The Clerk of Court will process all misdemeanor probation financial transactions and disburse fines and court costs paid by probations. The new procedures regarding probation services are set out in an Interlocal Agreement between the courts and David Gee, as Sheriff, and the County of Hillsborough, FL.

Under the new rules, the cost of supervision fee is $75 for the first month and $55 per each month thereafter, and a one-time setup fee of $12 to the clerk’s office. The clerk’s fee is for the accounting, processing, and collecting of all misdemeanor probation cost-of-supervision financial transactions in accordance with the Interlocal Agreement.

Unless restitution is ordered to be paid to a victim under Section 948.09, Florida Statutes, the Clerk will assign the first $50 of any fees or costs paid by an indigent misdemeanor probationer as payment of the application fee.

After entering a plea, the person is required to report in person to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Misdemeanor Probation office located where the court hearing was held (the courthouse in Tampa or Plant City).

Probationers must report within forty-eight (48) hours of their court or release date, excluding weekends and holidays. Probationers who are being released from Orient Road Jail may report to the Orient Road Probation Services location.

After being put on probation, probationers that speak Spanish are handed a piece of paper that says:


Favor de reportarse fisicamente a la Oficina del Alguacil del Condado de Hillsborough al departamento de Probatoria para Delitos Meneres. La oficina se encuentra donde se sostuvo su audiencia de corte en Tampa o Plant City.

Usted se tiene que reportar dentro de las primeras cuarenta y ocho (48) horas  de sudia en corte o del dia que salio de la carcel, esto no inclueye fines de semana o dias de fiesta. Personas que sean liberadas de la carcel “Orient Road” se puenden reportar a la oficina de probatoria localizada en Orient Road.

Probation Offices in the Tampa Bay Area

The probation offices in Hillsborough County, FL, include:

Tampa Misdemeanor Probation Services
George Edgecomb Courthouse
800 E. Twiggs St.
1st Floor
Tampa, FL 33602
Plant City Misdemeanor Probation Services
Plant City Courthouse
301 Michigan Avenue
Plant City, FL 33563
Orient Road Misdemeanor Probation Services
Orient Road Jail
1800 Orient Road
Tampa, FL 33619

Read more about misdemeanor probation in Hillsborough County.

Florida’s Probation Officer Information Form

If you have filed a motion asking to modify or terminate your probation, some judges in Florida will require your probation officer to complete a “Probation Officer Information Form.” The form reads as follows:



Court Date (if assigned): ________

    1. Any objection to granting the request? (Specify below)
    2. Have all special conditions of probation been met?
    3. Have all costs of supervision been paid?
    4. Have all court costs and fines been paid?
    5. Have all restitution ordered to be paid during the probation period been paid?
    6. Have all community service hours been completed?
    7. If Defendant is applying for financial relief, do you believe it is warranted?
    8. Has Defendant reported as required?
    9. Has Defendant had any violations? If so, please describe.
    10. Date of Probation Sentence _______________
    11. Length of Probation Sentence _____________

List any additional information you believe will be useful to the court in making a determination on the early termination of probation or other relief sought.___________________________________________.

The information set forth above is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.


Probation Officer Signature

Contact Phone Number and Extention


Fax completed form to the judge’s judicial assistant.

Additional Resources

Contact Information for The Honorable Nick Nazaretian – Visit the website for the Thirteen Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, FL, to find the contact information for the Honorable Nick Nazaretian, Circuit Court Judge in Division K. Judge Nazaretian presides over the majority of felony violation of probation cases in Tampa.

The Honorable Nick Nazaretian
401 N. Jefferson St., Room 132 – Annex
Tampa, Florida 33602
Courtroom #19

Judicial Assistant: Yvette Springborn
Phone: (813) 272-6855

Felony Probation Cases in Tampa, Florida – For individuals put on probation for a case pending in the Circuit Court in and for Hillsborough County, FL, the probation will be supervised by the Department of Corrections. The vast majority of these cases are felony offenses.

Although if the charges were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor for the plea, the Florida Department of Corrections would still supervise the probationer. Tampa Circuit Office of the Department of Corrections provides various community-based sanctions and programs including mental health programs, substance abuse programs, and sex offender treatment programs.

Tampa Circuit Probation Office – Department of Corrections
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, FL
1313 N. Tampa Street, Suite 809
Tampa, Florida
(813) 233-2382

Finding a VOP Lawyer in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are ready to assist you with your Violation of Probation case. Whether the underlying offense was DUI VOP, domestic battery, drug charges, shoplifting, or theft charges, call us to discuss the case.

We are experienced with the local procedures and administrative rules for probation violation cases in Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL.

We can help you get back in front of the court quickly after the VOP warrant is served, although the most advantageous time to hire a probation revocation attorney is before the affidavit of violation is even completed by the probation officer.

We also represent clients who want to petition the court for Early Termination of Probation or modification of the bond conditions. The goal in these cases is to help our client complete their probation successfully.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm also represent clients accused of a violation of Pretrial Release Conditions in Florida. If you do not comply with the terms of the pretrial release, then your bond can be forfeited if certain factors are proven.

For example, Section 903.0471, F.S., authorizes the court to, on its own motion, revoke pretrial release and order pretrial detention if the court finds probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a new crime while on pretrial release.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your constitutional rights, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, the advantages and disadvantages of a trial versus a plea offer, and the possible sentence for the pending probation violations.

Call us at 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.