Is Your Probation Officer Exceeding His or Her Authority?


        When a person is placed on probation in Florida, the sentencing judge orders the person being placed on probation (the probationer) to complete certain conditions; he also orders the probation office to monitor the probationer's progress.  As long as the probation officer is simply supervising a specific, judge-ordered condition of probation, all is well.  However, problems arise whenever a judge delegates authority to a probation officer to impose what amounts to additional conditions of probation.


        That is precisely what occurred in the case of Carter v. State of Florida.  In that particular case, the judge ordered the following:  "As directed by your Officer, you will enroll in, regularly attend, and successfully complete, such programs as are reasonably related to your past and future criminality, or the rehabilitative purposes of probation; including but not limited to alcohol and drug treatment and counseling, mental health counseling, vocation and education courses, rehabilitation programs, evaluation and therapy."


        On appeal, Mr. Carter successfully argued that allowing his probation officer to select the appropriate rehabilitative programs he should attend amounted to an improper delegation of authority by the judge to the probation officer.  In agreeing with him, the appellate court stated that the judge "[did] not simply grant to the probation officer authority to supervise or direct a specific condition of probation . . . .  Rather, [the judge allowed] the probation officer to actually impose a wide variety of programs related to rehabilitation . . . ."


       If you are on probation in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, St. Lucie County, Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, or Miami-Dade County, and you believe that your rights are being violated, call me, attorney Ron Chapman, at 561-832-4348 to discuss your case and see how I might be able to help you.


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