Danger Hearings in Florida
Defendants on felony probation or community control that are classified as Violent Felony Offenders of Special Concern (“VFO”) are subject to more rules. A VFO is required to undergo Danger Hearings in Florida if they have violated probation or community control. A Danger Hearing in Florida is just one of the other requirements for VFOs.
What Triggers a Danger Hearing?
- A defendant must be on felony probation for any offense that qualifies the defendant as a VFO.
- The defendant must be on felony probation or community control and is arrested for a qualifying offense, or
- the defendant is on felony probation or community control and has previously been found by a court to be one of the following:
Qualifying Offenses that trigger Danger Hearings in Florida are any of the following:
- Kidnapping or Attempted Kidnapping,
- false imprisonment of a child under 13,
- Luring or enticing a child.
- Murder or Attempted Murder or Attempted Murder; Attempted Felony Murder, or Manslaughter,
- Aggravated Battery or Attempted Aggravated Battery,
- Sexual Battery or attempted Sexual Battery,
- Lewd or Lascivious:
- Battery or Attempted lewd or lascivious battery,
- Robbery or attempted robbery under s. 812.13,
- Carjacking or attempted carjacking under s.812.133, or
- Home invasion robbery or attempted home invasion robbery under s. 812.135.
- Lewd or lascivious offense upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person or attempted lewd or lascivious offense upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person under s. 825.1025.
- Sexual performance by a child or attempted sexual performance by a child under s. 827.071.
- Computer pornography under s. 847.0135(2) or (3), transmission of child pornography under s. 847.0137, or selling or buying of minors under s. 847.0145.
- Poisoning food or water under s. 859.01.
- Abuse of a dead human body under s. 872.06.
- Any burglary offense or attempted burglary offense that is either a first degree felony or second degree felony under s. 810.02(2) or (3).
- Arson or attempted arson under s. 806.01(1).
- Aggravated assault under s. 784.021.
- Aggravated stalking under s. 784.048(3), (4), (5), or (7).
- Aircraft piracy under s. 860.16.
- Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb under s.790.161(2), (3), or (4).
- Treason under s. 876.32.
- Any offense committed in another jurisdiction which would be an offense listed in this paragraph if that offense had been committed in this state.
Anyone of the previously listed crimes can be a qualifying offense. If the Defendant has been arrested or convicted of any of those offenses, then the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether the defendant, who is properly classified as a violent felony offender in Florida, has committed a violation of felony probation or community control.
Violation of Probation or Community Control
The Court’s requirements regarding Danger Hearings in Florida are set out in Section 948.06, Florida Statutes. The court must make a determination regarding the defendant’s violation of probation and community control. No danger hearing is required if the defendant violations probation or community control for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to pay costs
- Failure to pay fines
- Failure to pay restitution
If, however, the VFO Defendant violates probation or community control for any other reason, then the Defendant must remain in custody until the violation of probation or community control is resolved. In other words, a VFO Defendant is not entitled to a bond before the violation is resolved! As a result, a VFO Defendant could be sitting in jail for months until resolution. Additionally, the court must hold a Danger Hearing.
After conducting the hearing, if the court determines that a violent felony offender of special concern has committed a violation of probation or community control other than a failure to pay costs, fines, or restitution, the court shall:
- Make written findings as to whether or not the VFO poses a danger to the community, based on one or more of the following:
- The offender’s present conduct, including criminal convictions,
- The offender’s amenability to non-incarcerative sanctions based on his or her history and conduct during the probation or community control supervision from which the violation hearing arises and any other previous supervisions, including disciplinary records of previous incarcerations,
- The weight of the evidence against the offender.
- Any other facts the court considers relevant,
- The nature and circumstances of the violation and any new offenses charged,
- The court must also decide whether to revoke the probation or community control,
- If the court has found that a violent felony offender of special concern poses a danger to the community, the court shall revoke probation and shall sentence the offender up to the statutory maximum, or longer if permitted by law.
- If the court has found that a violent felony offender of special concern does not pose a danger to the community, the court may revoke, modify, or continue the probation or community control or may place the probationer into community control.
Why Should You Hire an Experienced Trial Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer that has actual experience in handling Danger Hearings in Florida may be the difference between prison and a more favorable result. Remember, if you are found to be a danger to the community in a danger hearing, then you could be sentenced to the maximum punishment allowable!
I have personally handled these types of cases, both as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. As a defense attorney, I have drafted and argued motions, and successfully handled Danger Hearings in Florida that have resulted in actual dismissals of all charges against my clients, and a finding of No Danger.
If you have been accused of this type of crime, call me immediately to discuss your case. Let my experience handling these cases from both sides of the courtroom assist you in preparing your best defense.
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