A University of Florida sophomore basketball player has some legal problems that he's dealing with after accepting a deferred prosecution agreement for misdemeanor criminal trespassing. The agreement stems from an April arrest in St. Augustine, The Florida Times-Union reports.
What's significant about this case is that he was on probation from a different state at the time he was arrested. That could cause problems down the road for him.
Probation violations in Jacksonville are somewhat common and can range from minor violations to new arrests that lead to extensive prison time for defendants. An experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney can seek to secure a plea deal that calls for less probation time and can sometimes help defendants avoid terms that could cause future legal problems. Probation is not a free ride. Some defendants prefer jail time to probation for that very reason. If you get in trouble again, you could find yourself facing time on two crimes instead of just the penalties attached to the new charge.
In Florida, if a defendant is placed on probation and then violates the terms of the probation, the judge can, in turn, sentence the defendant to the maximum punishment for the charge. So, in the case of a third-degree felony, 5 years, second-degree felony, 15 years and a first-degree felony, 30 years to life.
That doesn't necessarily happen every time, but the judge has that discretion. And the re-sentencing can happen even for a minor violation, such as not informing the probation officer of a change of address or not proving you have sought employment, if that's a condition of the probation. Conditions also include not getting arrested or convicted of a new charge.
In this case, the basketball player was arrested in April in St. Augustine after he and a teammate were in the parking lot of a restaurant at 2 a.m. where employees reporting a car burglary. The plea was to a reduced criminal trespassing charge and the agreement calls for 200 hours of community service, completion of a substance abuse evaluation, $240 in restitution, a letter of apology and fines and fees. He also can't consume alcohol or drugs.
But he is also serving two years of probation in South Dakota after he faced a charge of inhabiting a room where drugs were knowingly kept and used. The newspaper reports he gave a teammate with an injury a leftover pain reliever he had received via prescription.
The newspaper reported that South Dakota prosecutors weren't available to comment on how the agreement could affect his probation. St.Johns County officials said that jail time may be a possibility.
When multiple states are involved in a defendant's situation, it can certainly complicate things. But it may be an advantage, as well. If the probation violation is minor, another state may decide not to pursue bringing the defendant back to that state to deal with it. Whereas if the conviction and violation happen in the same county, officials may be less merciful.
As mentioned earlier, some defendants actually prefer jail or prison time to probation if they believe they are unable to satisfy all the conditions the state wants. Also, probation is expensive. A defendant must make monthly payments and failure to pay can also be considered a violation. Any small mess-up can land a person in jail or prison anyway.
Consulting with an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is important to help you determine the best course of action regarding probation vs. incarceration.