Florida Drug Offender Probation: What you need to know BEFORE agreeing to the terms.

May 4, 2012

illegal-drugs.jpgMany Florida residences are often accused of crimes involving the illegal possession of controlled substances defined under Florida Statute section 893.13. Often people accused of these crimes are first time offenders or have often score non-state prison under the sentencing guidelines. Citizens scoring non-state prison are eligible for a term of probation that includes supervision by the Department of Corrections. A term of probation is often a very appealing offer from the State Attorney's Office because in can used in place of jail or a prison offer or insure that the client is not a convicted felon. However, many people are placed on drug offender probation for drug offenses without knowing the strict conditions imposed during the super vision period. Additionally, people do not fully understand the ramifications of violating drug offender probation. It is essential that people placed on probation understand the requirement and the consequences of the supervision BEFORE he or she agrees to go on probation.

Drug offender probation is defined in Florida statute section 948.20. If it appears to the court upon hearing that the defendant is a chronic substance abuser whose criminal conduct is a violation of Florida statute section 893.13(2)(a) or (6)(a), the court may either adjudge the defendant guilty or stay and withhold the adjudication of guilt; and, in, either case it may stay and withhold the imposition of a sentence and place a defendant on drug offender probation. This allows people accused of drug crimes to plea to the charge and not be a convicted felon. However, strict requirements must be followed. Under Florida Statute 948.20(1) drug offender status shall include surveillance AND random drug testing.

What does this mean? If you agree to a term of probation, the probation officer will have the opportunity to search your house at any time without first obtaining a warrant from a Judge. This means at any time for any reason, your probation office can show up to search for any illegal items. You have essentially waived your rights to unlawful search and seizure afforded by the constitution. Second, under Florida Statutes you are REQUIRED to be randomly drug tested. You can expect to check into a website on a daily basis and if your number is called you must provide a sample of your urine. Failure to do so in a timely manner may violate your probation.

Additional conditions of drug offender probation may include a curfew from 10pm to 6am. Probationers may not leave the county without permission of his or her probation officer. Client's placed on probation must pay $55 per month in costs of supervision. All financial requirement including fines and court costs MUST be paid by the end of the term. Failure to do so may result in a violation of probation warrant.
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Any violation of these terms of conditions will lead to a violation of probation warrant issued for your arrest. Once the warrant is issued, you will be entitled to a bond and will be held in custody on a zero bond status. This means no matter how much money you may have you are not eligible to be bonded from jail. You may be plucked from your home or car and be sitting in the jail for days or weeks before a Judge agrees to give you a bond. In many cases, if you violate your probation you may do more jail time than originally offered for your sentence.

Before you decide to take a probation sentence, be familiar with the terms and requirements BEFORE you agree to take the deal. In many cases, people serve longer jail sentences on a violation of probation than the jail offer on their original charge. Agreeing to be placed on probation can be a wise decision. It may keep you from being a convicted felon and could keep you out of jail. However, be aware of the strict conditions imposed on probation. Understand that any violation of probation can land you in jail without the possibility of bonding out. It is important to realize that people often serve longer jail sentences for a violation of probation charge than on the offer on the original underlying drug charge. If adjudication was withheld, an admission of the violation of probation will erase all the hard work and effort to keep from being a convicted felon.

Before agreeing to a term of probation, consult with the lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. They have experience in handling thousands of cases involving probation. It is imperative that you understand the risks BEFORE you agree to a probationary sentence. Consult with the Clearwater and St. Petersburg attorneys to determine if drug offender probation is in your best interest. Failing to do so can result in a lengthy jail or prison sentence and being a convicted felon.