What is Community Control?
Community control is an intensive form of house arrest. It is common for courts in Florida to sentence criminal offenders to community control as an alternative to prison. The consequences for violating the conditions of community control can be quite severe (just like the consequences for violating probation.)
If you are sentenced to community control, you will not be able to leave your residence unless you are engaging in certain approved activities. If you are found to be absent from your residence, and you are not within half an hour of the time of an approved activity, then your sentencing authority will be notified that you have violated the terms of community control. There is an exception for emergency situations, but there are strict standards for what constitutes an emergency.Approved Reasons for Being Away From Your Residence
You are permitted to leave your home for:
- Treatment programs, self-improvement programs, and educational programs;
- Public service work;
- Religious expression; and
- Personal needs.
If you are self-employed, there are special rules regarding where you can travel for work. Also, excursions for personal needs are only permitted if there is no one else who can obtain them for you.Violations of Community Control
Violating community control is serious business. People who are accused of crimes often accept plea deals that involve community control, and assume they got off easy. But if they are caught violating a rule, they could easily wind up in prison – for the longest possible sentence they could have initially received.
When it comes to violations, the same rules that apply to probation also apply to community control. The rules on community control and probation are laid out in Florida Statute 948.06, which states, “Whenever within the period of probation or community control there are reasonable grounds to believe that a probationer or offender in community control has violated his or her probation or community control in a material respect, any law enforcement officer…may arrest…such probationer or offender without warrant wherever found and return him or her to the court.”
Many people violate the conditions of community control by being absent from their residences without authorization, or by failing drug tests. It is also possible, however, to violate the conditions of community control by committing a new crime. In fact, if you are charged with a new crime while you are on probation, you can be found to be in violation of your probation – even if you are not found guilty for the new crime.
In other words, let’s say you are placed on probation for six months due to an assault charge. And let’s say that, two months after your probation begins, you are arrested on a drug possession charge. So you stand trial on the drug possession charge, and the jury finds you not guilty. Even though you were found not guilty of drug possession, a judge could still find you to be in violation of your probation due to the drug possession charges. You see, when you are on community control (or probation), you do not need to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be found in violation.
If you have been accused of violating community control or probation, you may find yourself in prison before you know it. Mark S. Lowry is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and he can help defend your rights before it’s too late.