In Florida, many guilty or no contest pleas result in the defendant getting a sentence of probation either instead of jail or prison time or in addition to jail or prison time. When a person is on probation, he/she usually has certain conditions to fulfill such as community service, paying fines and/or restitution, going to certain classes and other conditions. The defendant might have a curfew, might have to stay away from certain people or places and/or might have to avoid alcohol and non-prescribed drugs. If the defendant violates one or more of these conditions while on probation, the judge can violate the defendant’s probation and re-sentence him/her to jail or prison time.
One common condition of probation is to not use alcohol to excess and avoid using any drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor. Using alcohol to excess is a very subjective standard. It can be easily proven if a person gets arrested for DUI and the police officer testifies that the defendant was drunk. It can also be proven if the probation officer visits the person at home and observes that the defendant is drunk. In probation violation cases, the state’s standard of proof is much lower than a regular criminal case. The state just has to prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the violation (rather than beyond a reasonable doubt). Many of these probation violation allegations involve a he said/she said situation where the judge will often side with the polcie officer or probation officer. If that is the case, a simple violation could result in the person going to jail, or back to jail, for a lengthy period of time.