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.
The court explained that when probation revocation relies on both charged and uncharged conduct, the revocation order must be reversed if it is unclear whether the trial court would have revoked probation and imposed the same sentence without considering the uncharged conduct.
In this case, the court found it clear from the record that the trial court would have revoked probation and imposed the same sentence even without considering the uncharged violation. The court pointed out that before discussing the uncharged offense, the trial court had already concluded there was enough evidence to revoke probation and discussed the possibility of a life sentence for aggravated battery. Additionally, the defendant’s lack of remorse for battering his father was evident to the trial judge before the uncharged violation was discussed.
However, the court also acknowledged that the trial court’s written order did not conform to its oral pronouncement. Therefore, it reversed and remanded the case only for the trial court to correct the written order to reflect the violations provided in the oral pronouncement, excluding the uncharged violation.
Speak to a Capable Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney
People found guilty of probation violations may face lengthy prison sentences, and if you are accused of such behavior it is crucial to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and gather any evidence in your favor, to provide you with a strong chance of a good outcome. You can reach Hanlon Law by calling 941-462-1789 or using the online form to arrange a meeting.