The Process of Probation in Florida

Interviewer: What warrants probation?

Randy Berman: The judge has a number of options if you’re convicted of a crime as to what your sentence can be. It can be a fine, it can be imprisonment, it can be probation or a combination of all those. Generally, for first time offenders, probation is a typical starting point. That basically involves a monthly reporting to a probation officer and the fees for the cost of your probation and collection by a probation officer of any fines.

Probation is Mostly Reserved for First Time Offenders

Probation is one of the options the judge has when you’re convicted of a crime. It’s typically given to first time offenders. For DUI, it’s actually a mandatory sentence and there are mandatory conditions of probation for first time offenders.

Those conditions include taking a DUI course and completing it, doing community service hours, paying court cost and fines, paying cost of your probation, getting a substance and alcohol evaluation and then following up with any treatment that’s recommend by the evaluator and also sometimes includes a mandatory attendance at AA or NA meetings. Probation for a DUI client has a lot of implications.

Consequences of Violating Probation in Florida

Interviewer: What happens when someone violates Probation?

Randy Berman: It depends. When you violate probation, it’s considered a new charge and you will be sentenced on that new charged based upon the gravity of the violation. If your violation is serious such as committing a new crime, getting a new DUI, those are substantive violations that are treated much more seriously than if you miss an appointment with your probation officer or if you’re behind in your restitution or fine payments. Those are considered technical violations.

The technical violations routinely result in a reinstatement of the probation and maybe some extra conditions tagged on to help you remember what you have to do, but if you do something substantive, not only do you have the new substantive case to deal with, you’ve got the violation of probation charge you have to deal with, which could result in jail time.

There are No Diversion Programs for DUI Charges in Florida

Interviewer: Are there any diversion programs available for DUIs like alternative programs available to people that are in jail?

Randy Berman: No. There are no diversions that I’m familiar with and if you get convicted with DUI, that conviction stays with you for life. Also, if you’re charged with DUI and you’re convicted, the court cannot withhold the adjudication either. The court is required to convict you so you cannot work on a deal to get a withheld adjudication for DUI. It’s not allowed. However, in Palm Beach County, there is a first time offender program where the state attorney will reduce the charge to reckless driving and withhold adjudication.

Notable DUI Case Study

Interviewer: Is there a general DUI case that you feel is a pretty unique case just to give us an example?

Randy Berman: I can give you a unique case that I’ve handled. It was a fellow who I defended a number of years ago who was charged with DUI manslaughter. He was in a truck with another person. They were traveling down a state road and all the sudden there were construction barriers that they plowed through. At some point, the truck hit a steamroller.

The truck did a 360 spin upon impact with the steamroller that didn’t move. The victim was in the vehicle with my client and that victim was found outside on the road having been ejected from the vehicle. My client was found passed out behind the wheel.

When he came to and they told him that he was driving a vehicle where someone died and he was under the influence because they had taken a blood sample when he was hospitalized, he apologized for doing it and admitted that he was wrong.

When I was hired to defend him, I had an accident reconstructionist look at all of the information about the case and tried to reconstruct the accident. We did a computer-animated reconstruction. That evaluation came to the conclusion that my client was actually the passenger in the truck and that the deceased person who was ejected on the road was the driver, because the driver’s window was open and the force that occurred to eject the driver out also forced my client over from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat causing him to be behind the wheel at the end of the accident.

He had no memory and he was under the influence but he wasn’t driving and the jury acquitted him.