When a person is tried for a felony offense, courts will sometimes allow the suspect to plea bargain for a probation sentence in order to avoid jail time. While felony probation carries stricter restrictions and penalties than misdemeanor probation, it also allows the fellon to enjoy more rights and privileges than an individual who is convicted and subsequently paroled.
In Florida, a judge is not required to formally enter a guilty plea for a person who submits to felony probation. Withholding adjudication is typically reserved for minor felonies and first offenses, though judges have a great deal of latitude in making these decisions. Withholding a sentence preserves most of the person's civil rights, including the right to vote, the right to hold a public office and the right to be employed in a profession that is normally barred to convicted felons. However, withholding a conviction is not the same as a pardon or not guilty verdict. The case will still appear on the person's criminal record.
In Florida, an individual on felony probation has severely limited rights to privacy. Every person on felony probation is required to register as a convicted felon with his county sheriff's office within 48 hours of sentencing, even those whose sentencing was withheld. In addition to having the case information available on publicly accessible databases, the person's image, physical description and address are made available. After the felony probation period has ended, this information can be removed from the public eye through a petition to restore civil rights.
A felony probation can include a variety of common and special restrictions that encompass the right to move about freely. These restrictions will often prohibit changing an address, leaving the state of Florida or another defined area and traveling past an imposed curfew. A person on felony probation can, however, petition to have some of these restrictions lifted or modified, or to have the location of her probation transferred entirely. In Florida, transferring the location of a probation requires that the applicant have more then three months left on his probation, be in full compliance with his probation orders, present an acceptable plan, possess means of support in the state he wishes to relocate to, and be a resident of or have family in that state.
Other Rights and Duties
A person on felony probation has the right to submit complaints about her probation officer and to be able to contact an officer at any time in the event of an emergency. Applicable emergencies include medical emergencies that require the offender to break travel restrictions, family medical emergencies that require special travel arrangements and sudden changes to the offender's employment schedule that require him to temporarily break travel restrictions. An offender also has the right to petition for the early termination of a probation sentence, if he is in full compliance with his sentencing provisions. Once the probation period has been terminated, the offender can then petition for various forms of clemency, such as the restoration of civil rights, pardons and the remission of any outstanding fines and forfeitures imposed as part of the probation sentence.
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