Willful Violation of Probation - What if I Didn't know I was Violating?

What is a Willful Violation of Probation?

A Violation of Probation must be both "willful" and "substantial". That means that you had to:
  1. Know and understand all of the rules of probation.
  2. Purposely break those rules.
  3. Know that the rules were being broken.
Sounds easy right? Not always. Probation is considered a "matter of grace, than of right." (Lawson v. State, Florida Supreme Court, 1997). Judges can always sentence someone to prison in felony cases. Some judges consider the offer of probation a gift. So a violation of probation is never taken lightly, by any judge. By violating probation, a person is basically saying to the judge: "I can't handle my freedom without breaking the rules." In some cases, when a person is put on probation there are special conditions. These may be conditions in addition to the usual conditions of probation such as remain crime free and get a job. When you violate your probation, you had to have knowledge that whatever you were doing was against the rules. For example, on drug offender probation, you might be required to stay away from other people using illegal drugs. If you get caught with someone who is high - you might be violating your probation. But does the State have to prove you knew the person was high? What if it's someone you just met and you couldn't tell? Or what if the person was good at hiding it? Are you still in violation of probation? Probably not. In this particular case, the State would have to prove that you knew the person was high. Unless you admitted it to your probation officer - they may not be able to prove it. Knowledge is a huge part of all crimes. But you can't say you didn't know about the condition. When you go on probation, you are told of all the conditions. The conditions of probation are explained to you. You sign a form saying you understand the conditions. Violation of probation attorneys know the ins and outs of all the probation laws. All violations of probation depend on your specific facts. Successful defense of your violation of probation can keep you out of prison. Make sure your criminal defense attorney is experienced with your specific case.
Categories: Probation