Waiting for the outcome of your criminal trial may have been one of the most frustrating and upsetting times you have experienced. If the possibility of jail or prison loomed ahead of you, you may have been relieved and overjoyed when the court ordered probation instead. Being on probation means serving your time outside of jail. You can continue to live at home, possibly remain in your job and enjoy the privileges of freedom.
However, probation comes with some stipulations, and some of them are quite severe. It is critical that you understand those restrictions and follow them carefully, or you risk consequences that may be even more severe than the original sentence you faced.
What are the terms of your probation?
When the court granted you probation, it may have seemed like a wish come true. On the other hand, the terms that typically come with probation can sometimes be broad and challenging. Some common restrictions include these:
- Reporting for subsequent court dates
- Meeting regularly with your probation officer
- Paying fines to the court
- Paying restitution to any victims of your alleged offense
- Avoiding certain people who may be related to your offense or involved in other criminal activity
- Abstaining from drugs and alcohol
- Avoiding any negative encounters with law enforcement, even for minor infractions
- Traveling outside the state of Florida
If your probation officer, the person who oversees your sentence, learns that you violated the terms of your order, he or she has a wide discretion for how to deal with you. You may receive a warning or go back to court for a hearing. If the court finds you guilty of the violation, it may revoke your probation, send you to jail and even add more time to your sentence.
Don’t act alone
You have the right to defend yourself. It is possible that law enforcement will be quick to report you to your probation officer if they even suspect you are in violation of the terms of your court order. It is also possible that the violation of your probation was unintentional or unavoidable because of extenuating circumstances.
Despite your best efforts, circumstances may work against you, and you may find yourself facing the same judge to defend yourself against accusations that you violated your probation. If this happens, you do not have to stand alone. You have the right to legal counsel throughout the process.