When you are facing an allegation that you violated your probation, every detail matters, as each detail may represent a piece of the puzzle that is your defense. Sometimes, the difference between defeating a violation case and going back to jail for several years may be something that seems very small to you. A skilled Tampa Bay probation violation lawyer, however, can spot those seemingly-small-but-actually-very-important details and utilize them to keep you from going back to jail.
Look at the probation violation case of J.T., a Brevard County man, and you can see just much these small pieces of the puzzle can matter.
Several months after J.T. got out on probation, J.T.’s probation officer filed papers with the court alleging that J.T. was in violation. Specifically, the officer accused J.T. of reporting a false address and changing his residence without obtaining the probation officer’s prior approval.
According to the probation officer’s testimony before the judge, the officer made a routine visit to the address that J.T. had listed. The officer spoke to a man at the property who he believed was the owner of the property. The man told the officer that J.T. “had stayed at that location for a few days but had been in Daytona for the past several weeks,” and that the man hadn’t heard from J.T. since he left for Daytona Beach.
Based on that evidence, the trial court revoked J.T.’s probation. However, a subsequent appeal yielded a different result as the District Court of Appeals said the state’s evidence was insufficient to substantiate a probation violation.
Not the Owner; Just a Neighbor
What was the hole was in the state’s case that J.T. was able to utilize successfully in his appeal? It was the identity of the man to whom the probation officer spoke.
The man, according to J.T., was not the property owner at all but was J.T.’s upstairs neighbor. J.T. explained to the judge that he still lived at that same address, that the building contained separate upstairs and downstairs units, that he occupied the downstairs unit and the man to whom the officer spoke occupied the upstairs unit, that the property had separate entrances for each unit, and that the two neighbors had very little contact with one another due to the upstairs neighbor’s health problems and frequent stays in the hospital. J.T. also testified that his belongings were still inside the downstairs unit of that building.
The appeals court said that the state’s body of evidence was inadequate because the proof it presented consisted only of hearsay. When the officer failed to determine with certainty the identity of the man at the property, and when the officer never verified the information that man gave to the officer, that made the proof hearsay and “insufficient to sustain a violation of” probation.
In this case, one detail — the probation officer’s failure to ascertain the identity of the person encountered at the residence and from whom the officer obtained critical evidence — was a fatal flaw in the prosecution’s violation of probation case.
Whether the outcome of your case turns on one detail or many, rely on the Tampa Bay probation violation attorneys at Blake & Dorsten P.A. to provide you with the strongest possible defense available under the law. We have helped countless people facing accusations of probation violations to avoid going back to jail, and we’re ready to get to work for you. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.