TAMPA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
SENIOR PARTNER AT NELSON, BISCONTI AND MCCLAIN, LLC
& BOND MOTIONS
Chapter 948 Fla. Stat. deals with Probation and Community Control felony supervisions.
When one is ordered to complete felony probation, various terms of probation may be ordered; see Fla. Stats. 948.03 (Terms and Conditions of probation), 948.031 (Condition of probation or community control, public service), 948.032 (Condition of probation; restitution), 948.033 (Condition of probation or community control; criminal gang), 948.035 (Residential treatment as a condition of probation or community control), 948.036 (Work programs as a condition of probation, community control, or other court-ordered community supervision), 948.037 (Education and learning as a condition of probation or community control), 948.038 (Batterers' intervention program as a condition of probation, community control, or other court ordered community supervision), 948.039 (Special terms and conditions of probation or community control imposed by court order).
Community control or what is commonly referred to as (felony) house arrest is a more intensive form of supervised custody in the community. See Fla. Stat. 948.001 (3). Often the community controlee is ordered to serve his supervision in his home, where it is often said that "one's house is one's jail." Only with specific approval from his community control officer (a counterpart to a probation officer) may the offender leave his home, for work for instance, or for other specified times for grocery shopping, laundry, doctor's visits, church etc. The other terms and conditions required to be completed by probationers are also ordered for those on community control.
Another common usage for community control is for those offenders to complete non-institutional residential placement which require specific sanctions imposed and enforced. Examples of these are residential substance abuse (drug and alcohol) programs, sexual offender programs and programs related to mental health. See Fla. Stats. 948.10, 948.101, 948.11, 948.20 and 948.30. Whenever within the period of probation or community control there are reasonable grounds to believe that a probationer or offender in community control has violated his or her supervision, any law enforcement officer (including a probation officer) who is aware of the violation may arrest such probationer or community controlee without a warrant; See Fla. Stat. 948.06(1)(a).
More often, a probation or community control officer shall prepare a violation of probation affidavit swearing to the facts supporting the violation and submit it and a warrant to the trial judge for his or her signature. These items are then filed with the Clerk of Court, who then forwards them to the Sheriff's Office for execution of the warrant. Within a short time (several days), the warrant is entered into the Sheriff's Office system and warrant detectives are assigned to arrest the offender; See Fla. Stat. 948.06(1)(b).
After the offender is arrested on the violation of probation warrant, the offender is brought before a first appearance judge who advises the offender of the violation and his or her bond status. Oftentimes, with regard to felony crime VOPs (violations of probation), no bond is set and the offender must wait for a court date before the judge who put him or her on supervision. In Hillsborough County, if the violation does not include a new felony crime, a "violation of probation judge" shall adjudicate (or hear) the violation case. If the violation includes the alleged commission of a new felony crime, then the trial judge (or the original division) who originally placed the offender on probation shall hear the violation of probation case.
In the case of the misdemeanor or traffic violation of probation, similar rules apply; however, the prospect of the trial judge allowing for bond to be set on a violation is much greater. Furthermore, in violation of misdemeanor or traffic probations, trial judges also may more often issue a notice to appear if the probationer had never committed a violation on that supervision and the violation is technical in nature or not an alleged commission of any new crime; see Fla. Stats. 948.15 and 948.16.
The court hearing the violation may revoke, modify, or continue the probationer or community controlee on supervision if the offender either admits to the violation or has been found to have violated the terms of his or her supervision upon having a hearing.
Upon revocation of probation the court shall adjudge the probationer or offender guilty, unless he or she has previously been adjudged guilty, and impose any sentence which might have been originally imposed before placing the probationer on probation or the offender on community control; see Fla. Stats. 948.06(2)(a) and (b).
In the case of a felony case, the violator may be sentenced to prison or county jail time. In some instances, probation may be revoked and a whole new type of probation or community control is imposed with the same or additional terms and conditions.
In the case where a probationer or community controlee denies committing the violation of supervision, the court may keep the probationer's bond status the same or consider other conditions of bail the court believes would assure the attendance of the accused in court. The court shall also consider the probability of the offender committing crime while not incarcerated. At this type of bond motion hearing, the accused's prior criminal record is reviewed by the court along with the prior performance of the probationer on probation. The court also examines the nature and severity of the probation/community control case itself along with the nature and severity of the alleged violation and the alleged strength of the State's evidence against the accused. An experienced litigator like Mr. Bisconti shall make every attempt to emphasize positive aspects of the client's case and reasonably explain any mistakes made by the accused.
While individuals are arrested daily for probation violations, most arrests involve those accused and arrested for new misdemeanor, traffic and felony offenses.
Because most misdemeanor and traffic offenses involve bonds that are relatively low (assuming there is not also a corresponding violation of probation for another misdemeanor or traffic offense), attaining the money needed to secure a bondsman or secure the cash to post the entire bond is attainable for many.
The more difficult situation arises when an accused is arrested for felony crimes. The more serious the crimes, the higher the bond often is. Obviously, the number of crimes one is arrested for also plays a role in how high the overall bond totals.
An arrestee should be brought before a first appearance judge within 24 hours of his arrest. Depending on the actual time of arrest, first appearance may occur within 48 hours. At this first appearance, the judge advises the arrestee of his charges and his bond status. If the client or his friend(s) or family retained Mr. Bisconti within a very short time after the arrest, Mr. Bisconti may be in a position to convince the first appearance judge or the preliminary presentation (P.P.) court judge to reduce the bond status by thousands of dollars or even persuade the court to release the arrestee on his own recognizance, which does not require a posting of a bond.
In the case of more serious offenses, i.e. Drug Trafficking, Conspiracy to Commit, Racketeering, Murder, Attempted Murder, Sexual Battery, Armed Robbery, Home Invasion, it may be advisable to conduct a more meaningful bond reduction motion at a later time. This will allow the defense to obtain more of the facts of the case and then be in a better position to argue for a reduced bond. It also allows for more meaningful communication with the State Attorney's Office, which may negotiate a mutually agreeable bond. After prosecuting in the Hillsborough County State Attorney's office from 1986 through 1993, and then representing the criminally accused for the next 34 years, Mr. Bisconti possesses the experienced judgment you need to handle any bond reduction motion and then further the entire defense of your case.