In Archie v. State, a case decided last week in Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, we are reminded that probation violations (unlike registration violations) need to be willful and substantial.
Archie, who was on sex offender probation, was violated for (among other things) traveling outside his county without the approval of his probation officer. Although he was wearing a GPS monitor that was supposed to alert him when he traveled outside the county, the alerts were not turned on that day. When Archie accompanied a friend to pick up another person who apparently lived in a neighboring county, the GPS detected the activity and ultimately he was violated for it.
Case law precedent states that probation can be revoked upon a finding that a violation is willful and substantial. In order for something to be willful, it needs to be done knowingly. The Appellate Court found that, “no evidence was presented indicating that there was signage on the road that would have alerted Appellant that he was traveling into Sumter County. The State could not establish that Appellant willfully violated his probation without introducing evidence that he knowingly left Marion County.”
Many probation-related questions are asked by members who have been threatened with violations for petty infractions they may have done unknowingly. When faced with such a scenario, know that in order to be violated, the violation must be willful and substantial and unless there is evidence it was done knowingly, you can’t willfully do something you are unaware of.