Probation Officers….Under Staffed, Under Paid and Over Worked

 

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Probation Officers….Under Staffed, Under Paid and Over Worked

The Florida Department of Corrections is in crisis.  The caseloads have grown and the Department is having trouble hiring qualified applicants to perform a tough job.  The Department is underfunded and the starting salaries are so low that it is next to impossible to get and keep dedicated employees.  The starting salaries are about ten thousand dollars below other starting salaries in law enforcement.  So why does this matter?  The high case load puts pressure on probation officers to reduce their case load by violating people for relatively minor technical offenses.  Probation is supposed to be a second chance for men and women who have committed minor crimes.  Probation is supposed to be a form of rehabilitation and not necessarily punishment.

If you are on probation you may have run into a probation officer with “attitude”.  Successfully completing probation is tough enough without dealing with an officer whose goal is to violate you.  This is particularly true if you are on sex offender probation with all of the harsh restrictions and law enforcement pressure to find a reason to put you in jail.  The truth is that probation officers are in a tough spot and trying to deal with low salaries, long hours and a frustrating job.  Do not let their problem become yours.

Always keep your appointments, even if the officer does not.  Document each visit and get confirmation that you are paying restitution, court costs and probation fees.  Keep a record of your receipts.  I suggest paying with money orders and keeping a copy for yourself.  Do not wait until your probation is almost over to get the fees paid. Do not wait until your probation is almost over to get the fees paid. Do not procrastinate and put off getting a drug evaluation or treatment.  The best way to not get violated is to not give them a reason.  At our criminal law office we defend probation violations regularly.  The violation still must be proved up to the judge and proved to be willful and substantial.  Having a real lawyer experienced in probation violations can make a difference.  If you are about to be violated or have a loved one in jail sitting with no bond on a violation, give us a call for a free consultation.  In Ft. Myers, call 239 334 8890 and if you are in Sarasota call 941 366 3506.  Do not wait until you are picked up.

 

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What Happens if You are Arrested for a Sex Crime?

 

 

 

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What Happens if You are Arrested for a Sex Crime?
If you or a loved one get arrested for a sex offense, there are important things you should know.  Lately, there have been hundreds of arrests in Internet Sex Stings like Operation Green Shepherd IV in Manatee and Operation PredaTour 2015 with Operation Volusia Broadband in Volusia county .  A number of stings have run in Orlando, Jacksonville and Manatee, Sarasota, Lee, Volusia and Polk Counties.  In all of these cases, the original bond is set high, often in an amount you cannot pay.
The first obstacle is getting you out of jail and released on bond.  Most of the time we can get the bond reduced at a bond reduction hearing.  If you use the public defender, this process may take much longer.
If you do get released, many times there are restriction you have to comply with even before you are found guilty.  You will be ordered not to use the Internet.  This is a huge problem because that is the way you may be able to find a qualified lawyer.  Do not rely on the recommendations of a bondsman in selecting an attorney.  He may have a selfish motive in seeing you hire a particular attorney.
Your most important decision is selecting a qualified experienced attorney that knows how to defend sex cases.  There is a huge difference between sex cases like rape, statutory rape, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious touching.  Defending Internet cases is much more complex than the ordinary sex crime case.
Not all attorneys are created equal.  Their experience varies greatly as well as their results.  Do your homework in selecting the attorney that will guide you through this complex criminal justice system.  Interview several criminal lawyers before making your decision.  Some will tell you what you want to hear to get hired.  Good lawyers are honest and truthful with you and tell it like it is.  Sex cases are tough and you need a tough lawyer working on your side.  Most lawyers like myself do not charge for a consultation.  Make your choice carefully. If someone you know has been arrested in an internet sex sting, never give up hope, that person is innocent until proven guilty, together we can discuss sex sting defense options. call me, Peter D Aiken in Sarasota 941.366.3506 or Sean C. O’Halloran in Fort Myers 239.334.8890

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My Probation is about to be Violated….What do I do?

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My Probation is about to be Violated….What do I do?

I hear this question all the time.  Unfortunately, even with good intentions, people end up in a situation where they are facing a probation violation.  Many times it is simply because they cannot pay restitution, fines or Court costs.  Many times the probation officer is unsympathetic and just looking for a reason to file a violation.  A probation violation has to be willful and substantial.  Not having money or being poor or broke is not a reason.  They have to prove you have the ability to pay.  If you lose your job or make so little you can barely survive, not paying your fines and costs is not your fault.  If you get an attorney before the violation it may make a difference.  We may be able to prevent a warrant being issued and keep you from being arrested.

People also get violated for changing their address without notifying their officer.  Most of the time was it because the person had to move, not because they wanted to.  Always contact your probation officer the day you change locations.  People also get arrested for a dirty urine.  The tests are not perfect and many times if all you have is one bad test we can prevent the violation or get you reinstated.  If you get a new arrest, you can count on getting violated.  It becomes really important to beat the new arrest and win the new charge.  You will end up sitting in jail on the violation while you fight the new charge.  Good people do make mistakes and no one is perfect.  Probation is a second chance and sometimes people simply mess up and blow it.  We regularly represent people who make mistakes.  Our job is to help you through the system and hopefully keep you out of jail.  Call today at 239 334 8890 for a free consultation.

Doing Time in 2015 for Multiple Crimes

 

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Doing Time for Multiple Crimes
In Florida you can end up doing really long State prison sentences if you commit multiple crimes or are convicted of repeat offenses.  If you are found to be a habitual offender or a violent habitual offender you can find yourself doing up to life in prison.  If you are found to be a prison release re-offender and you get charged with a new crime and get convicted of the new offense, the judge has to give you the maximum penalty.  If you are a sex offender and get out of jail and commit a sex offense within three years of your release, on the new sex offense you have to get the maximum penalty.  There is a case I know of where a man was released and then within three years was convicted of a lewd act in the presence of a minor.  Basically he was near a school yard watching teenage boys play racket ball and jerking off in the privacy of his own car.  A teenage boy sneaked up on him and peeked in and saw him masturbating and he got charged with a second degree felony.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for basically masturbation.  The Judge had no choice because he was a release re-offender.
If you commit multiple offenses, like bad checks or multiple prescription fraud, the points ad up under the Florida sentencing guidelines you can find yourself facing prison.  Many addicts find themselves in this situation.  It is the same thing with car burglaries.  As a criminal lawyer in Ft. Myers handling criminal cases all over Lee County I see all the time young men getting charge with multiple car burglaries all on the same night.  Each one is a different offense although part of the same criminal conduct.  As a criminal defense attorney my job many times is damage control.  As a defense lawyer, I need to convince the prosecutor and the judge not to go strictly by the guidelines.  The young man may have a drug problem that caused him to commit the crimes.  He may be a juvenile and charged in juvenile court.  He may have been just a follower led into committing a crime by an older friend.
If your are facing several cases or have a criminal charge in Fort Myers or in Cape Coral it is important to have a criminal defense attorney that knows how to minimize the penalties.  We have offices in Ft. Myers as well as Punta Gorda and Sarasota.  Call Sean C O’Halloran at 239-334-8890 today for a free consultation

Why is My Probation So Long?

Aiken and O’Halloran of SW Florida
Offices:
Ft Myers
239-334-8890
Sarasota
941-366-3506
Charlotte
941-639-6009

Ft Myers 239-334-8890               Sarasota 941-3663506

Why is My Probation So Long?

March 2015

Many people receive long probation sentences in both State and Federal courts.  Even if they receive a jail sentence, it is often followed with a long probationary period.  This is particularly true if you are convicted of a Florida sex offense.  Why do people get probation ? The Courts often feel they are giving you a break by imposing probation.  For some people, probation is a trap.  For sex offenders, sex offender probation often imposes conditions that make it impossible to live a halfway normal life.  Sex offender probation restricts where you can live, where you can work, where you can go and what you can do.  In Miami, hundreds of sex offenders are now homeless because of the residency restrictions.  On the other hand, probation is a lot better than being in State prison.

The Florida sentencing guidelines give the judges a lot of discretion in imposing sentences.  What is a sentencing guideline? What is a score sheet and how does it affect my sentencing? If the crime is theft, embezzlement or elder fraud, the courts often impose probation to force the person to pay restitution.  If a person has a drug problem, probation is a means of forcing them to get treatment.  Our criminal defense firm routinely handles probation violation hearings Ft. Myers, Sarasota and Punta Gorda.  More people are arrested for a probation violation than any other reason.  As criminal defense lawyers we hold the State attorney to their burden to establish that the violation was both willful and substantial.  Simply not paying court costs or restitution is not enough to put you in jail.  Many times there are valid reasons to miss an appointment and often, a dirty urine can result from something as simple as eating a poppy seed bagel.

If you or a loved one suffers a violation, contact us immediately for a free consultation.  The public defender is overworked and under staffed and if you want your case to receive personal attention, call us today.  In Ft. Myers, call 239 334 8890.  In Sarasota, call 941 366 3506

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