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01/10/2014
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I have a violation of probation but it is “just a technical”, what can they do to me?

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.

One of the most confusing things for ordinary citizens to understand, is that in a VOP proceeding, the State’s burden is that of preponderance of the evidence and not beyond a reasonable doubt.  More time is spent repeating this than anything else in probation violation cases. An example for preponderance of the evidence standard is to imagine two piles of grains of sand, each with exactly the same amount of grains, then take one grain of sand and remove it from one pile adding it to the other, then the pile with that one additional grain of sand would meet the burden of proof to prove a violation. The standard or burden of proof in a VOP is also referred to as “more likely than not”.

Whether the alleged violation of conditions of probation is technical or substantive, the answer to the question “what can they do?” is the same in Florida. Under current Florida law, a violation of probation is a resentencing and the judge can impose any legal sentence including the statutory maximum. Therefore, if a probationer is on probation for possession of cocaine and screens dirty, then the judge could legally sentence that probationer to five (5) years.

Remember that if your loved one is facing a probation violation; you should not walk into court alone. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire an attorney to help with a VOP.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

The law has changed since this was written please see the update.

Where’s Waldo? Traffic Ticket Defense in Waldo Florida

Waldo, Florida is located in Alachua County along US Highway 301. Many people and AAA feel that Waldo is a speed trap. Although the signage has improved in recent years, the speed changes frequently and the school zone in Waldo from US 301 Southbound onto SR-24 is difficult to manage, especially if you are not from here. Many people from out of state call the office after receiving a traffic citation looking for a lawyer to handle traffic ticket defense due to an alleged traffic violation in Waldo.

What can you do if you were issued a traffic ticket in Waldo? In every traffic violation case you have three options. First you could just pay the citation, you will receive points on your license, your insurance may increase for years and some states will suspend your license if you were driving fast enough.

Second, if you qualify, you may elect to take traffic school, which will remove points from the license, the citaiton still has to be paid and unfortunatley for out of state driver, another State may not honor the election to remove points.  The driver’s home state may place points on the license even if the driver chooses school to avoid pointd in Florida.  After traffic school, the citation will still appear on the record.

A person with a commercial driver’s license or CDL does not qualify to elect school. The traffic school election can only be made once every twelve (12) months and only five (5) times in a lifetime. Therefore, a citation with a school election is maintained on the driver record for 75 years.

The third choice, sometimes the only choice for out of state drivers, CDL drivers, or drivers needing an amendment to keep their job or license, is to take the infraction to court.  A traffic ticket lawyer can represent a driver in court in the driver’s absense; there is no requirment to personally attend. (Even in Appearance Required Citations).

Law enforcement municipal statistics along the US 301 corridor, including Lawtey, Starke, and Waldo, show that in any given month, about 90% of people just pay a traffic ticket or elect traffic school which requires payment of the citation. Why do an overwhelming majority of citizens just roll over and pay the traffic ticket?

Perhaps convenience is a factor, but we can help without ever coming to the office, and even through email.  Maybe people feel it is the law enforcement’s word against the citizen. Unfortunately this can seem true.  But in court, sometimes, the officer fails to appear or witnesses may have unclear memories, in a speeding ticket, documents for calibration and maintencance are not always proper.   .

Single car accident cases,such as for careless driving, should almost always be fought. In that instance the citation was issued for because there was an accident and for no other reason. In single car accident careless driving citations, the driver is likely the only witness to the crash.  The State has to prove guilt, and most of the time the officer or trooper did not witness the wreck.  When the lawyer goes to court instead of the driver, what evidence can the State present?  None.  However, in the same case a driver representing themselves may be asked questions and the driver will provide the State the evidence the State is missing. Hiring a traffic ticket defense lawyer can have drastically different results because without evidence, the State cannot meet their burden of proof which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Even if the defenses are difficult; most of the time an attorney can help to avoid points and traffic school.  In short most people do not fight their traffic ticket case. More people should.  Hire an attorney by clicking, filling out the form or calling. We handle all traffic matters.

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Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529