Every criminal defense attorney has had the client at one point in his career who they consider not to be a good candidate for probation. The case comes in and unfortunately the evidence against the client is too overwhelming to consider going to trial. “So and so” just isn’t a paper guy/gal,” says the criminal defense attorney to the Prosecutor. Some defendants know full well that if they enter a plea and receive probation, it will only be a matter of time until they manage to violate their probation one way or another! Whether it’s keeping away from an alleged victim, refraining from doing a drug of choice, keeping in touch with their probation officer, or just keeping out of trouble in general, some defendants cannot and will not accept a probation offer.
Probation is a very restrictive means to keep folks in check. 9 times out of 10 there will be several restrictions keeping a person from doing certain things, and just general restrictions on one’s liberty. Typically the alternative to accepting a probation offer is to take your case to trial or have your attorney negotiate with the state for a jail sentence. Often times for folks who aren’t paper people (good candidate for probation), they are willing to accept a jail sentence in order to get finality with their case quicker than they would have had it, had they accepted a probation negotiation. I have had repeat clients who may be recreational drug users who would most assuredly violate (typically based on prior hirings for violation of probation hearings) their probation, who if their case is not defensible, I recommend to take a minimal jail sentence. Though the thought of jail is not appealing, serving 10 days in County and getting the case over with is a much better alternative than violating probation. Depending on your charge, if you violate probation you could be sentenced up to the maximum allowable jail or Prison time if found guilty of willfully violating your probation. This can lead to incarceration from anywhere to 60 days several years in Florida’s Prison system. Additionally, once the VOP warrant is issued you could be picked up and whisked off to your county’s finest accommodations without warning. The practical implications of this amount to one being arrested without time to prepare their family, pets, or home for their absence. This can often be more devastating than the actual incarceration itself.
What’s the point of this entry you might ask? As a client you need to be honest with yourself and your attorney when considering a probation sentence. Though probation is a less intense option than incarceration, if you know that you are a good candidate to violate probation, you should ask your attorney to negotiate a jail sentence so as to have both options available. If your attorney is a straight shooter, and is familiar with you on a professional level, they will tell you whether or not you are a “paper person.” Our duty as your Tampa, Clearwater or St. Petersburg defense attorneyis to be frank with you and give you sound legal advice with respect to any implication your case may have. Though it may not always be what you want to hear as the client, it’s better to make a sound decision at the outset than to regret it later.