What Happens When You Violate Probation?

If you were charged and convicted of a crime but managed to escape jail time or have already served your sentence behind bars, then it stands to reason that you should take steps to avoid being jailed. Probation is a way for law enforcement to keep a close watch over offenders who aren’t necessarily a danger to society without having to keep those offenders locked up at taxpayer expense. What happens when you violate probation? Well, the short answer is easy: you’re probably going to jail. So don’t do it.

The long answer is more complicated.

Two types of probation exist: the strict kind, and the lenient kind. If you’re under strict probation, you likely report to a probation officer every so often, and you might have unscheduled visits just to check up on you. You might have a long list of strict guidelines for your probation. For example, stay away from alcohol or other drugs. If you don’t have someone checking up on you, then the only requirement is avoiding arrest.

If you’re under strict probation, then the list of ways you can violate it is a long one. You might be arrested, you might test positive for drugs or alcohol, you might fail your financial requirements according to the law, you might fail to show up for community service or educational programs, or you might fail to keep a meeting with your probation officer. Doing any of these things is bad news.

The good news is this. In Florida, the court system has a great level of control over probation violation penalties. With a good legal defense (and hopefully a reasonable explanation of why you violated probation), you can hope to avoid additional jail time. One of the best outcomes you can hope for is a simple extension of your existing probation. Depending on the original crime and the type of probation, you might only get off with a warning.

Other more lenient penalties involve community service, rehabilitation for substance abuse, or counseling. You may also incur additional fines. If the court decides to revoke your probation, you’ll serve the rest of your original sentence behind bars. Although circumstances can vary greatly, one thing is for certain: you should get yourself a qualified and experienced lawyer.