Articles Posted in Probation Violations

People sentenced to supervised release in federal cases must comply with the terms of their release; otherwise, their release may be revoked. As demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a Florida case, the state’s burden of proof in revocation hearings is lower than in criminal trials, and the federal rules of evidence regarding hearsay do not necessarily apply. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation, it is smart to consult a Sarasota probation violation defense attorney about your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the lower court revoked the defendant’s supervised release after determining that he violated the conditions of his release by committing the offense of simple battery. During the hearing, the government introduced evidence in the form of a text message exchanged between the victim and her 16-year-old daughter via the testimony of M.M.’s mother, Reyna Morales. The defendant objected to the admission of the text message, asserting that it violated his right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses. The court overruled his rejection. After his supervised release was revoked, he appealed.

Grounds for Revoking Supervised Release

On appeal, the defendant argued that the lower court violated his due process rights by admitting a text message containing hearsay at his revocation hearing. The court disagreed, affirming the lower court ruling. The court explained that supervised release could be revoked if the district court found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release. The court noted that the preponderance of the evidence standard requires the trier of fact to believe that the existence of a fact was more probable than its nonexistence.

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Typically, when people are sentenced to probation, they are required to comply with specific conditions, including, among other things, refraining from engaging in criminal behavior. If they violate the terms of their probation, it may be revoked, and they may be sentenced to imprisonment. In a recent Florida case, a court examined whether an uncharged violation constituted adequate grounds for revoking a defendant’s probation; while the court ultimately ruled that it did not, it upheld the revocation on other grounds. If you are charged with a probation violation, it is smart to talk to a Sarasota probation violation defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant appealed the trial court’s decision to revoke his probation and impose a life sentence. He argued that the trial court improperly considered an uncharged violation in its decision. The defendant also contended, and the State agreed, that the trial court’s written order did not align with its oral pronouncement. During a probation revocation hearing, the trial court requested the defendant’s prior record. The State provided an electronic copy that included the defendant’s most recent arrest, an uncharged violation. The defendant subsequently filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(2), asserting that the written order did not match the oral pronouncement, but the trial court did not rule on this motion. The defendant then appealed.

Revoking Probation Based on an Uncharged Violation

On appeal, the court noted that revoking probation based on an uncharged violation violates due process and constitutes a fundamental error. Both the defendant and the State acknowledged this error but differed regarding its import.

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