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What Happens If I Reject A Plea Bargain In A VOP?

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Good evening and welcome back to Florida Criminal Law TV. My name is Stephen G. Cobb, attorney at law and I am your host of Florida Criminal Law TV and have been since the late 90s. We are doing a series of video shorts to answer people’s questions today. As you can see, it’s casual Friday and I am going to go through these questions one-by-one and answer some frequently asked questions. Since we have been on the air, we have been [inaudible – 0:00:32.9] diluted with user questions and I really appreciate it. Those of you who use Florida Criminal Law for information as well as our website, this is a very special episode for you. And so, our next question today is, “What happens after I reject a state plea offer in a VOP”? Well, as many of you know, VOP stands for Violation Of Probation. And when you are talking about a VOP, there is no right to a bond. This is important to remember.

Now, on misdemeanor cases, sometimes people will be able to get a bond; in felony cases quite often they cannot. But when it comes to rejecting a plea offer, that is a completely different animal whether or not someone is still in jail or on bond. What happens then is that the case is scheduled for an evidentiary hearing. Now, an evidentiary hearing is a lot like a jury trial but with some major differences. Difference no. 1, you do not have a right to a jury. As it is, the legal system in Florida for criminal justice is pretty unfairly rigged. You do not get 12 jurors; you only get 6. In a violation of probation, the judge not only takes the role of the jury finding facts but also makes rulings on the law.

Another key difference and this is critical, the burden of proof is lower. So, what this means is when you reject a plea offer in a VOP case, you do not get to try your case in front of a jury and the burden of proof is lower and most probation officers are smart enough not to just list one allegation of the violation. It is not uncommon for people to call me up and say, “I have got this violation of probation”, and I respond with, “Well, what do you think your violation allegations are”. And then, from there, they say, “Well, the only thing is going to be X”. Well, then they get a copy of the affidavit of violation and it is a scattergun approach where there are multiple things listed for violation of probation where the defendant thought there was only one thing. Well, the probation officer has been taking notes for months and they list everything they can possibly think of. So, when you go to that evidentiary hearing after rejecting a plea offer, you must win each and every count of violation of probation. Now, if you win, you get restored back to probation. If you lose, expect to go out the back door and you need to understand this if you do not like your plea offer because it contains the time and you lose an evidentiary hearing, expect to get sentenced to the max. Does this mean you are going to get sentenced to the maximum in every case? No, not at all. Your lawyer is going to be prepared to make arguments in favor of a less harsh sentence. However, the reality is if you turn down a plea offer in a VOP case, you need to be very careful about it, you need to have good communication with your legal team and I wish you the very best of luck because that is a very difficult situation to be in.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

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“"Everything was great and smooth working with Mr. Cobb. He was fast and efficient and answered any questions I had."”

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“"I would recommend Attorney Cobb to others. I would describe him as an honest and straightforward lawyer. All my concerns were addressed."”

Crystal H.

“"He was excellent, he did everything without me having to do much especially not living close. I hired him and told him everything and he did it all and it was a great experience. The legal assistant that works there was also amazing."”

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“"It was as clean of a process as it could have been for me. He handled everything for me because I live out of state and made it so simple and easy. He was great and thorough and I hardly had to do anything."”

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“"If you can hire Stephen as your attorney then definitely do that. He talked openly and gave me assurance and even his legal assistant that works there is amazing. I never had any problems or trouble with them."”

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“"I have used other lawyers in the past. I was facing years but left court with probation and a suspended sentence. Thank you and god bless you."”

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“"This is actually one of the best law firms I've had the pleasure of dealing with. They stick with you throughout the entire process, walking you through every step and they know the law! They were able to help me get out of a situation that had occurred because of a technicality and was very knowledgeable in the process. I would recommend them to anyone."”

James S.

“"Such a great service to go through when dealing with any legal matter! Mr. Cobb is very knowledgable and will take the time to understand and communicate with you in a timely manner."”

Dreeana A.

“"Everything was great and smooth working with Mr. Cobb. He was fast and efficient and answered any questions I had."”

Joshua T.

“"I would recommend Attorney Cobb to others. I would describe him as an honest and straightforward lawyer. All my concerns were addressed."”

Crystal H.

“"He was excellent, he did everything without me having to do much especially not living close. I hired him and told him everything and he did it all and it was a great experience. The legal assistant that works there was also amazing."”

Joseph S.

“"It was as clean of a process as it could have been for me. He handled everything for me because I live out of state and made it so simple and easy. He was great and thorough and I hardly had to do anything."”

William S.

“"If you can hire Stephen as your attorney then definitely do that. He talked openly and gave me assurance and even his legal assistant that works there is amazing. I never had any problems or trouble with them."”

Lonnie M.

“"I have used other lawyers in the past. I was facing years but left court with probation and a suspended sentence. Thank you and god bless you."”

Jason

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