How Shocking is Shock Probation?
By the numbers, shock probation is shocking. The shock probation recidivism rate is significantly lower (25 percent) than the overall recidivism rate (40 percent). Basically, shock probation combines incarceration and probation. Usually, defendants serve a few weeks in jail before their probationary terms begin. The theory, which is apparently sound, is that jail is so terrible defendants don’t want to go back.
Yet, judges only order shock probation in limited situations, mostly because of cost reasons. Quite simply, supervised release is much, much cheaper than incarceration. A Tampa probation & expungement lawyer typically leverages the cost issue, along with some other defenses, to help defendants avoid shock probation. That’s not true in all cases. In some situations, shock probation reduces the likelihood of future probation violations.
Jail time is not the only common probation condition. Typically, judges impose general and offense-specific conditions.
Legally, judges in Hillsborough County don’t have to warn probationers about general conditions, such as:
- Remaining in the county,
- Working and/or attending school full time,
- Paying child support and alimony as ordered,
- Staying away from people with criminal records,
- Avoiding bars and other “disreputable places,”
- Paying fines and costs,
- Staying out of trouble with the law, and
- Reporting to the supervision officer.
Those last two bullet points are usually substantive conditions. Violating either one generally prompts an immediate motion to revoke probation. If the probationer violates a technical condition, the supervision officer usually gives the probationer a second chance. That’s especially true if a Tampa criminal defense lawyer advocates for the probationer in these situations.
Judges must warn probationers about offense-specific conditions, such as a substance abuse counseling mandate. This requirement is a common probation condition in DUIs and drug cases. Failure to complete program requirements or getting kicked out of the program is a substantive probation violation.
Not all probation plans are created equally. Florida judges can add or remove conditions almost at will. Additional conditions, like GPS monitoring, often make probation more like house arrest. On the other end, judges can grant unsupervised probation in some cases.
The same thing is true from a legal perspective. Sometimes, if the probationer successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case, and the defendant has no permanent criminal conviction record, at least related to that offense.
It stands to reason that short probation terms with fewer conditions are easier to complete than long probation terms with burdensome conditions. So, both at the time of sentencing and later in the process, an attorney works to meet these goals.
We mentioned some criminal law statistics above. Here’s another one: about a third of probationers face a motion to revoke probation. Sometimes, an attorney can do little in terms of a defense. Missing an appointment with a supervision officer is a good example. In most cases, the probationer was at the right place at the right time or s/he wasn’t.
Some judges are reluctant to put these defendants back on probation. The judge reasons that the probationer couldn’t stick to the conditions before and there’s no reason to assume a second chance will end differently.
Many attorneys work out shock probation reinstatement. The defendant serves a few days in jail and then goes back on probation. The before-and-after approach often resonates with judges. For example, if Ben is up for a promotion from cashier to shift manager, the judge might be more willing to simply tell Ben to go forth and sin no more.
Work With a Diligent 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.