There are various types of Probation in Florida. Each provides different degrees of supervision with respect to restriction, conditions and monitoring. Drug Offender probation is considered to be one of the more stringent types of supervision when it comes to criminal sentencing.
Increased drug testing, surveillance, routine substance abuse evaluations and treatment are some of the requirements of Drug Offender Probation.
Drug Offender Probation Under Florida Statute 948.20
Under Florida Statute 948.20, Drug Offender Probation may be imposed where it is established that the Defendant is a chronic substance through evidence presented at a scheduled hearing on the issue and the Defendant is a non-violent felony offender. Judges have discretion under this statute to adjudicate/convict, withhold adjudication/convict or defer criminal sentencing. Where sentencing is deferred or postponed, the defendant is placed on probation prior to being sentenced. It should be noted that nothing in this statute prohibits an accused from disputing the charges against them.
Deferred Sentencing Pending Drug Offender Probation
The Court may stay and withhold the imposition of sentence and place the defendant on drug offender probation or into a post adjudicatory treatment-based drug court program if the defendant otherwise qualifies. Where the court postpones sentencing, the Defendant is given an opportunity to enter into a treatment or recovery facility in order to demonstrate their amenability to treatment. At a later sentencing hearing the court will consider testimony by an assigned caseworker as to the participants progress or lack of progress in completing treatment. Favorable progress reports can mean the difference between being placed on probation rather than being incarcerated or being adjudicated or having adjudication withheld.
Random Drug & Alcohol Testing While on Drug Offender Probation
Random testing is always a condition of Drug Offender Probation. The manner in which the probationer is notified that they are to submit to testing varies depending on the county as does the location and type of testing that can be requested. Where a probationer tests positive for controlled substances, a technical violation of probation warrant will be submitted to the court. In certain situations, technical violations of probation (as opposed to substantive ones) may be resolved through an Alternative Sentencing Program for Felony Offenders. These programs vary by jurisdiction and are adopted as administrative orders by the Chief Justice of the Circuit Court.
Types of Drug and Alcohol Testing While on Drug Offender Probation
On Site Urinalysis
On Site Breathalyzer
Laboratory Analysis of Urine Specimen
Laboratory Analysis of Blood Specimen
Third Party Testing Facility
Drug and Alcohol Evaluations
Submitting to a drug and alcohol evaluation is usually the first condition required of the probationer. A licensed addiction specialist or licensed psychologist conducts this evaluation and any ensuing report will outline a recommended course of treatment. Treatment plans may involve anything from outpatient recovery to long-term residential treatment. Recovery programs are far less restrictive than treatment programs.
Drug and Alcohol Counseling and Recommended Treatment
Curfew, Employment Requirement and Location Monitoring
Conditions of drug offender probation may directly require that the defendant adhere to a mandatory curfew as a specific condition of supervision. A curfew may also be indirectly imposed by counselors of a court ordered treatment center or recovery house. Curfews are rarely imposed as a special condition of regular probation cases.
A requirement that probationers seek and obtain gainful employment is also imposed to a greater degree on those serving a sentence of Drug Offender Probation. Supervising probation officers monitor the progress that a supervised individual has made in seeking and maintaining employment to a far greater degree than individuals on regular probation.
Use of Prescription Medication While on Drug Offender Probation
Probation officers always require that any medication prescribed to a supervised defendant be disclosed in great detail upon signing up with the Florida Department of Corrections. Failure to disclose even a legally obtained medication is a basis for Violation of Probation Warrant being filed with the court. The use of medical marijuana that has been legally prescribed is rarely if ever permitted.
Drug Offender Probation vs Drug Court
Drug offender probation is not drug court. Drug court is a type of diversion program that allows individuals that otherwise qualify to participate in a drug and alcohol dependency program that is monitored by the court. If completed successfully, defendants who opt for drug court may have their case dismissed rather than resolving their case by pleading guilty, no-contest or by trial.
Drug offender probation is often confused with Drug Court. This is due to the fact that the conditions of this form of supervision mirror the level of supervision and requirements of individuals enrolled in a diversionary drug court program. A good way to distinguish between the two is by understanding that Drug Offender Probation is a sentence or punishment following the resolution of a criminal case. Drug court is an opportunity to resolve a criminal case without a disposition or sentencing by working toward ultimately having the charges dismissed. In some cases, however, drug offender probation may be imposed prior to imposing sentence.