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Violating Probation by Leaving Florida or the Country

Violating Probation by Leaving Florida or the Country

So you’re on probation in Florida and thinking about leaving the state or country without permission from your probation officer? Not a good idea. Violating probation can land you back in jail or prison, so it’s really important to understand the rules and potential consequences.

I get it – Florida can feel confining, especially when you’re required to jump through all these hoops while on probation. But before you pack your bags, let me break down what happens when you violate probation by leaving the state or country without permission.

What Exactly is Probation?

Probation is a sentence where you serve all or part of your sentence in the community instead of behind bars. The court gives you a set of rules you have to follow, like meeting with your probation officer, completing community service, staying employed, and more. The idea is you get a second chance to show you can follow the law without spending years in prison.

It’s important to remember probation is a privilege – not a right. So if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, there can be serious consequences like getting sent to county jail or state prison.

How Do You Violate Probation by Leaving Florida?

When the judge puts you on probation, the court order says you have to live in a certain county in Florida. It also says you can’t leave the state without advanced permission from your probation officer. If you take off to another state or country without getting that permission first, that’s considered absconding – a serious violation.

Your probation officer probably won’t give you permission to leave the state except for really good reasons – like a family emergency or job opportunity. And you’ll need proof to back up your reason for leaving.

So if you leave without permission – aka abscond from probation – you violate a direct court order. Even if you’re only gone for a day or two, once you cross state lines without approval you open yourself up to a violation.

What Happens When You’re Caught?

If you abscond from probation, a warrant goes out for your arrest. That means cops anywhere can pick you up and haul you back to the county that issued the warrant.

Once you’re back in custody, the court will schedule a Violation of Probation (VOP) hearing. The judge hears from your probation officer about how you violated and reviews any evidence against you.

If the judge decides you did violate probation by leaving Florida, you’ll be found guilty at the VOP hearing. Then comes sentencing where the judge could:

  • Revoke your probation and send you to county jail or state prison to serve all or part of your remaining sentence
  • Extend your probation period by several years
  • Add more rules like community service hours or mandatory drug/alcohol treatment
  • Sentence you to time served in county jail from the date of your violation arrest

The penalties really depend on things like:

  • Your original charge (felony vs. misdemeanor)
  • Criminal history
  • How much probation you have left
  • If you have prior violations
  • The judge’s mood that day

But no matter how you slice it, getting busted for leaving Florida without permission while on probation is bad news.

What Defenses Work Against Violation of Probation Charges?

If you end up back in court for a VOP hearing, having a skilled criminal defense attorney in your corner is critical. The deck is stacked against you from the start since probation is considered a privilege under Florida law.

Still, a good defense lawyer will look closely at the allegations to find any legal loopholes or procedural mistakes by the State or your probation officer. Some possible defenses include:

You didn’t willfully violate probation: Let’s say you had a family emergency out-of-state you couldn’t predict. Or you were traveling and got rerouted through another state unexpectedly. Your lawyer can argue you didn’t intentionally violate probation – so the violation should be dismissed.

No proof you left Florida: If the State doesn’t have solid evidence you actually left the state, like airline/bus tickets or GPS data, your lawyer can fight the allegations.

Illegal search led to violation: If the police searched your car or home without probable cause and found evidence you violated probation, your attorney can file a motion to suppress. Any evidence found during an illegal search gets tossed out.

Mistake of law: What if you genuinely didn’t know leaving Florida was against your probation rules? Your lawyer can explain you made an honest (and stupid) mistake. Judges can show leniency if they think you didn’t understand the rules.

You had permission: Let’s say you told your probation officer you wanted to go to Georgia for a weekend but they never got back to you. If you can show you asked for permission and have records of it, your violation case could get dismissed.

While defenses exist, it’s still an uphill battle once you’re hit with a violation. Your best bet is following all probation rules to a T…or get your sentence modified so you’re not stuck in Florida.

Getting Permission to Leave Florida While on Probation

I know it sucks feeling trapped in one state for months or years while on probation. But packing up and leaving without approval can ruin your life. Instead of violating probation, work within the system to get the rules modified.

Request an interstate compact transfer: All states have an interstate compact agreement that lets people transfer probation supervision to another state. You need a good reason, like wanting to live closer to family or pursue job opportunities. The process takes a few months and both states must approve it. But it beats sitting in county jail!

File a motion to modify probation: Work with your criminal defense lawyer to file a formal motion asking the judge to change your probation terms. Explain why you want to live in another state and how it will help your rehabilitation. The judge might say yes if you have a compelling reason.

Get early termination: After completing at least half of your probation sentence, you can petition the court for early termination. If you’ve done really well on probation, with no

violations and finished all conditions, the judge may just end your sentence early.

Appeal to your probation officer: Have a candid talk with your probation officer about why you want to leave the state. If they see you’re committed to getting your life on track, they might put in a good word to the judge. While not guaranteed, it can help persuade the court to modify your rules.I know it’s hard, but try to be patient and do probation the right way. Leaving Florida without permission while on probation rarely ends well. Protect your future and talk to a criminal defense lawyer about the proper way to get your probation terms modified.

Frequently Asked Questions About Violating Probation by Leaving Florida

I get a lot of questions from folks about what happens if they leave Florida without their PO’s blessing. Here are some of the common questions and answers:

Can I go on vacation if I’m on probation in Florida?

No – at least not without advanced permission. When you’re sentenced to probation, the judge orders you to stay within the county or state. Taking off to the Bahamas for spring break is only gonna land you in jail when you get back.

You can request permission for limited travel within the US from your probation officer. But they usually won’t allow international vacations, especially early in your probation term.

What if I moved out of Florida but still check in with my probation officer over Zoom?

Nice try! Even with video check-ins, leaving Florida without court approval is a violation. Probation is about carefully watching you serve your sentence within the state. If you abscond to another state, that supervision gets broken – so it’s against the rules.

How long am I “on the run” before I violate probation by leaving?

You violate probation the moment you step foot out of Florida without permission – regardless of how long you’re gone. Even taking a day trip to Georgia is enough to trigger a violation warrant and arrest. Length of time doesn’t matter when it comes to absconding.

If I get caught, can I just serve jail time instead of finishing probation?

Nope! Jail or prison time is an additional penalty stacked on top of your existing probation sentence. The court won’t just swap your community supervision sentence for incarceration. You’d serve your jail term and still have to finish all probation upon release.

What if I leave Florida because of a family emergency out-of-state?

While judges understand family emergencies happen, you must get permission BEFORE leaving Florida. Otherwise, it’s still a violation even if the reason seems justified. Speak to your probation officer immediately about travel needs for emergency situations to avoid getting arrested.

I know I’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to the consequences of violating probation by leaving Florida or the country without approval. My best advice? Don’t do it! Not following your probation rules just isn’t worth risking your future and freedom. Stay patient, talk to your lawyer, and use the proper channels to modify your probation terms instead. I’m happy to chat more if you have any other questions!

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