What is a Violation of Probation (VOP) Hearing?
A Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing is a legal proceeding in which an individual who is on probation is accused of violating the terms of their probation. This hearing is held in front of a judge and is similar to a criminal trial in that both the prosecution and the defense present evidence and make arguments. However, the burden of proof in a VOP hearing is lower than in a criminal trial, as the prosecution only needs to prove that it is more likely than not that the individual violated their probation.
If the individual on probation is accused of violating the terms of their probation, the probation officer overseeing their case has the authority to file a violation report with the court. This report outlines the alleged violation and provides evidence supporting the claim. The court then determines whether there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred and, if so, schedules a VOP hearing, in front of a judge, to determine the appropriate consequences.
During the VOP hearing, both the prosecution and the defense present evidence and arguments related to the alleged probation violation. The prosecution may call witnesses to testify and introduce documents or other physical evidence to support their case. The defense may also present evidence and call witnesses to refute the allegations or offer mitigating circumstances as to why the defendant may have not violated their terms of probation.
After both sides have presented their cases, the judge will consider all of the evidence and arguments and make a decision on whether the individual violated their probation. If the judge finds that the individual did violate their probation, they may impose consequences, such as extending the probationary period, revoking probation and ordering the individual to serve a jail or prison sentence, or requiring the individual to perform additional community service or attend additional counseling or treatment.
In summary, a VOP hearing is a legal proceeding in which an individual who is on probation is accused of violating the terms of their probation. During the hearing, both the prosecution and the defense have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments, and the judge makes a decision as to whether the individual violated their probation and, if so, what consequences should be imposed.
How is a VOP Hearing Different from a Standard Criminal Trial?
The legal process for a violation of probation (VOP) differs from that of being charged with a new crime. As you have already been convicted and have violated the conditions of your sentence, you are afforded fewer legal protections during a VOP proceeding. Differences between a VOP hearing and Criminal Trial include:
- There is no time limit (Statute of Limitations) for bringing a violation of probation (VOP) charge.
- You do not have the right to a trial by jury in a VOP hearing.
- You may be required to give testimony that could incriminate yourself.
- Hearsay, or secondhand testimony, may be allowed as evidence in a VOP hearing.
- Your probation officer may be the prosecution’s only witness.
- You do not have the constitutional right to bail while waiting for your VOP hearing. Bail is often denied on a VOP arrest, especially if the original charge is a felony, until the alleged violation is resolved.
- The burden of proof for a VOP violation is lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used in criminal trials. Instead, guilt must be proven by a "preponderance of the evidence," meaning that it is more likely than not that the individual violated their probation.
Palm Beach Violation of Probation Lawyer Near Me
If you've been charged with VOP in Palm Beach County, criminal defense attorney Ian Goldstein is available to talk about your options. To find out if you have any defenses to the charges against you, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach who is familiar with Florida's probation laws.
When you hire the Law Offices of Ian Goldstein, you'll have an advocate who will work tirelessly to reduce or even have your charges dropped. Contact us at (561) 600-0950 to set up a no-obligation, initial consultation.