“Believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see.” Benjamin Franklin (I think)
Unfortunately, violations of probation are fairly easy to prove, but there are a few rules that must be followed. First and foremost, a violation cannot be based solely upon hearsay. There are entire books written on the concept of hearsay, of which the first chapter would bore you to tears. At the risk of losing you on such details, let me just say that hearsay involves a person quoting someone who is not present in court. So, you can’t convict someone of violating probation by telling the judge that “Someone told me that the probationer did something”. As basic as this may seem, you may be surprised to find that judges, probation officers, and prosecutors do not understand this age old concept. To prove this to you, we’re going to take a look at the recent case of Mullins v. State, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 13553 (Fla. 2nd DCA Sept. 11, 2015).
Mr. Mullins was found guilty of violating his probation in two ways: (1) he failed to obtain the consent of his probation officer before changing his residence, and (2) he gave false information to his probation officer regarding his actual residence. Yes, this is two violations for the price of one relocation. Mullins’ violation began as so many others do–with a probation officer’s surprise home visit. (Yes, you were thinking a positive drug test, and that’s probably first on the list, with surprise visits running a distant second place) Continue Reading