If you were convicted of a crime and were sentenced to probation or received probation as a negotiated plea at the time, you probably thought you were getting the break of a lifetime — until you read the terms of your probation. For some probationers, fulfilling the terms of their probation for the entire period may seem next to impossible, especially when it affects their ability to travel. Before you decide to accept probation as part of a negotiated plea, consult with a criminal defense attorney in Florida to ensure that the terms you agree to are appropriate for your charges.
Common Terms of Probation in the State of Florida?
The information in this article was prepared and reviewed by a probation violation attorney specific to the state of Florida. If you've been charged with a crime or have questions about your probation in another jurisdiction, contact a criminal defense attorney who practices in your area.
Florida State Statute 948.03 dictates the terms and conditions of Florida's state probation. If you are on federal probation, a different set of rules apply. While on Florida probation, you must:
- Follow the court's guidelines for reporting to your probation officer.
- Maintain a job or be actively seeking employment.
- Permit your probation officer to visit your home, place of employment, or other locations as specified by the court's guidelines.
- Avoid being charged with new offenses.
- Make restitution to any party who has been determined to be a victim of your crime as ordered by the court.
- Support your legal defendants.
- Not associate with individuals who are engaged in criminal activities.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
- Not possess a firearm.
- Not possess any other weapon without obtaining prior consent from your probation officer.
- Pay various expenses and fees associated with your probation, like the cost of drug testing.
- Not possess controlled substances unless prescribed to you by a doctor.
With regard to travel, the statute states that the “probationer or offender in community control shall … remain in a specified place.” But what does that mean? Within a building? A city? The county? The court will specify the permitted geographic boundaries of your probation in the community control order. In order to leave those boundaries, you must first seek permission from the court. Otherwise, you risk violating your probation, which could result in your rearrest and incarceration.
Factors Affecting Permission to Travel on Probation
Before extending permission to travel outside the permitted area, the court will consider the following factors:
- You are not wanted for additional crimes or violations of your order of supervision.
- Your request for travel has specific locations, dates.
- There is a contact person and phone number with whom your travel plans can be verified.
- You've provided sufficient notice for your compliance officer to verify the details of your travel plan.
- You have a legitimate reason for the request: employment, family medical emergency, etc. Vacation or recreation is not a valid travel exception.
- Whether or not your travel will affect any mandated treatment programs or testing.
- Whether the travel will affect your financial obligations to the court or individuals affected by the crime.
Travel approval by the courts is by no means automatic. Statutory law and precedence allow the court to deny your request for any number of reasons. Contact a criminal defense lawyer who represents probationers if you are on probation and need to travel out of state.
Frequently Asked Questions About Travel While on Probation
Being on probation can be intimidating. There are multiple rules, and the consequences for breaking them may seem disproportionately harsh. It's in your best interest to direct your questions and concerns to a professional probation attorney in Florida. If you're in Broward or Palm Beach counties, contact Weinstein Legal. These frequently asked questions and answers may provide you with some limited guidance, however.
What Are the Possible Repercussions of a Probation Violation?
Depending on the type of violation, the judge can revoke your probation and impose whatever penalties were available for your crime. The court may leave you on probation but with additional restrictions. Leaving the state without permission is considered a significant violation. If you're caught, you will need legal representation to defend yourself.
How Can a Probation Violation Attorney Help?
To begin with, a probation violation attorney has a specialized knowledge base. Not all criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in probationary laws and practices. A probation violation attorney can examine the terms of your probation and determine whether or not they're consistent with what other convicted offenders with similar records have received for their crimes. They can also approach the court if you require accommodation for travel. Because a probation violation attorney defends clients who have been rearrested or ordered to appear in court for probation violations, they also know how to help you avoid violating.
Can I Get a Permanent Travel Exception for Business?
Travel restriction is one of the aspects of probation that make it punitive. Consequently, it's unusual for a judge to allow an offender to travel throughout their probationary period. More than likely, you will require an attorney to make individual travel requests for each trip.
How Do I Know Where I Can Travel?
Your community supervision order will be explicit. For instance, it may only allow you to travel in Palm Beach County, or you may be limited to travel anywhere within the state of Florida. If you are aware that you will need to travel outside of the outlined geographic area, your attorney can bring it to the judge's attention and request permission.
Can You Leave the State if You Are On Probation in Florida?
In most cases, you are not allowed to leave the state, but your actual restriction maybe even more limiting. You may, for instance, only be allowed to travel to the surrounding counties or the Tri-County Area.
Contact a trained criminal defense attorney before you risk any intrastate travel while you're on probation.