Can I Get Unsupervised Probation in Florida?
In some states, only certain offenders, like nonviolent offenders, are eligible for unsupervised probation. But in the Sunshine State, the judge may order unsupervised probation in any case. “Unsupervised” doesn’t mean completely unsupervised, at least in most cases. However, this form of probation has, by far, the fewest rules and restrictions to follow. That’s a significant benefit. The fewer rules the court imposes, the less likely a motion to revoke probation becomes.
Frequently, unsupervised probation is the best possible outcome in a very bad situation. Furthermore, if a defendant legally qualifies for unsupervised probation, the defendant might also qualify for early termination of probation or other post-trial remedies. Everything depends on the skill of a Tampa probation & expungement lawyer. A lawyer must know the proper way, and the persuasive way, to ask for and receive unsupervised probation.
Qualifying for Unsupervised Probation
Legally, the judge may grant unsupervised probation, even in a violent felony, if the defendant is unlikely to reoffend. So, a recent criminal record, especially if the prior offenses are similar to the current one, probably takes unsupervised probation off the shelf.
However, that’s just the minimum qualification. Judges rarely give anything to anyone who barely meets the minimum qualifications.
To increase the chances, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer sometimes uses character statements from people who know the defendant. A before-and-after argument often works even better. For example, if Sam was under the influence of drugs when he committed an offense and he voluntarily goes into treatment, his chances of reoffense drop. The same thing is true if, between the arrest and court date, Sam has moved, gotten a new job, gotten married, or undergone another positive life change.
Unsupervised probation might result from a negotiated plea or an open plea. Prosecutors often agree to unsupervised probation if the evidence in the case is weak. They’d rather take a sure tuning (unsupervised probation) than risk a not-guilty verdict at trial. An open plea is a combination of a plea and a trial. The defendant pleads guilty and asks the judge to assess punishment. The obvious risk is that the judge could sentence the defendant to anything up to the maximum.
Usually, unsupervised probation restrictions only include a requirement to avoid further trouble with the law for a period of months. The lack of restrictions makes it easier to terminate probation early.
Judges have almost unlimited discretion in this area. Early termination means a significant emotional release for defendants on unsupervised probation. It’s hard to live when someone constantly looks over your shoulder.
Furthermore, that judicial discretion works both ways. If the political winds suddenly change, the judge could easily add very restrictive conditions to the defendant’s probation.
Additionally, unsupervised probation is a judicial declaration that the defendant doesn’t pose a risk to society. Therefore, an attorney may be able to seal the defendant’s criminal record. Law enforcement agencies, judicial agencies, and a few other state agencies can see sealed convictions. But to the rest of the world, they are invisible.
Work With a Thorough Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.