The law applicable to technical violations of probation (VOP) will change, hopefully for the better on July 1, 2016. Florida Statutes section 948.06 will be changed to add new language that allows the Chief Judge of the Circuit in consultation with the State Attorney and Public Defender to create alternative sanctions for alleged technical VOPs. The law does not apply to substantive violations. (technical v. substantive)
Recently, for the first time in this firm's history of defending violations of probation, a violation of probation report or affidavit included a speeding ticket as an alleged new law or substantive violation. Then, the judge then issued a warrant with no bond, presumably after reading this report or affidavit of violation of probation. They call it criminal defense practice for a reason, everday there is something new. I've been involved in the system since 2001 and this was a new one on me.
What is the difference between a technical and a substantive violation of probation? This is a common question when a family is facing a violation of probation or VOP. There are basically two ways a person can violate probation. One type of probation violation is called substantive and the other is technical.
Probation can be revoked upon a finding that a violation is willful and substantial. The State has burden to prove by the greater weight of the evidence that the probation violation is willful and substantial. This standard or burden of proof is also called preponderance or "more likely than not".
While the law engenders many questions, one of the most common areas of confusion for probationers is the law on violation of probation or VOPs. Violation of probations can be alleged for either technical or substantive reasons. A new law violation, such as a new charge for possession of marijuana or DUI while on probation, is a substantive violation. Meanwhile, an example of a technical violation of probation would be testing positive for marijuana while on probation or otherwise having a dirty urine or screen. Failure to pay restitution or failing to complete community service hours are other examples of technical violations of probation.