There are two ways that you can violate probation here in Florida. If you’re arrested on a new offense, a brand new charge while you’re on probation, we call that a “substantive violation of probation.” And if you violate for any other reason we call that a “technical violation of probation.”
For example, a positive drug test is a technical violation of probation. Failing to pay restitution, or court costs or failing to complete a court ordered drug counseling or classes, or even community service. All of this sort of thing is known as a technical violation.
People who are unfamiliar with VOP’s – and the punishment for VOP’s – are fond of saying “Oh, this is only a technical violation!” Yes. But Florida prisons are full of people that started out by saying “Hey this is only a technical” and now here I am in prison. The punishment can be awful. So, please take this seriously so you don’t find yourself in that spot.
The beautiful thing about technicals these days is that they qualify under a new law that created alternative sanctioning programs throughout the state. Not all technical violations are referred to the new program but just in case yours is I want to go over this with you briefly. Because, the program really sets out a nice buffet of light sentences for various technical violations.
If you don’t see the beauty of this new alternative sanction program its because I’ve left out some of the best parts. Let me tell you. First, you’re not arrested for the VOP. Second, you don’t need to hire any attorney. And third, you’re not going to court, you’re just going to get the sentence that the program says. So this is a big deal versus the jail time they used to hand out religiously for technicals.
Every county has its own alternative sanction program but I’m going to give you a couple of examples so you can see how these scenarios play out under the new program. Its really a good program.
In Orange County, lets say you failed to report your change of address or you failed to report your change in employment. That’s a technical violation. Under the new alternative sanctions program, you’re going to be required to call in every week for six weeks, they’re going to keep tabs on you. And, you’re going to have to report in person twice a month rather than once a month for three months. And they might have to take a “Life-skills Class” that really amounts to a “handle your business” lecture.
Another example is, lets say you fail a drug test. Under the new alternative sanction program, a technical violation like this is going to require that you complete a drug evaluation and any treatment that’s recommended in that evaluation. Plus, they’re going to impose a curfew and require that you attend NA or AA classes for 90 days.
If your judge doesn’t refer you to the alternative sanction program that we were just talking about, there’s lots of ways to beat a technical violation of probation. Don’t lose any sleep over it. I tell you, probation officers get a little sloppy when they file technical and that means that we have a higher chance of winning these cases.
So, you’ve got to hang in there. I recommend getting a local attorney on a VOP and the most important thing is, ask this attorney whether he or she has handled a violation in front of your judge. You only want to hire somebody that has done a VOP in front of your judge. If they haven’t, move on.
I wish you luck on your case, thanks for watching. Take care.