Why You Need To Carefully Understand The Conditions Of Criminal Probation
Criminal sentences often contain a number of terms and conditions that the defendant must strictly follow while on parole or “supervised release.” If there are any questions or concerns about these conditions, they need to be addressed upfront. In too many cases, a defendant only learns after-the-fact that prosecutors and probation officers have fairly broad discretion to interpret the conditions of release.
Federal Court Requires Florida Businessman to Notify All Potential Clients of Prior Child Pornography Conviction
Take this recent decision from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Cordero. This case involves a Florida defendant who pleaded guilty to one count of accessing child pornography, which is a federal crime. Under the defendant’s plea agreement with the United States Attorney, he served one year and one day in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
Upon the defendant’s release from prison in 2014, he received notice of the terms and conditions of his probation. As relevant here, the conditions stated the defendant’s probation officer could direct him to “notify third parties of risks that may be occasioned by the defendant’s criminal record or personal history or characteristics.” In other words, the probation officer had the discretion to require the defendant to notify third parties of the fact he was a convicted sex offender.
After the defendant’s release, he decided to start his own business installing “smart home automation systems.” The defendant’s probation officer subsequently advised the court that the defendant “may pose a risk to the public when he is installing electronic devices in client’s homes where minor children reside.” As such, probation requested “enforcement” of the third-party notification condition–i.e., a court order requiring the defendant to notify all of his current and prospective clients of his criminal history.
The court granted probation’s request in a sealed order. The defendant then filed separate motions to “clarify” the order and terminate his probation early. The government opposed these motions, which the court denied.
On appeal, the 11th Circuit said there was nothing improper in the actions requested by probation and granted by the trial court. As the appellate court explained, the trial judge did not add any further restrictions to the defendant’s ability to seek employment, which would have required a separate hearing. Instead, the judge was “merely enforcing” a “standard condition” of probation with regard to third-party notification of sex offender status. The defendant did not object to this condition when he was originally sentenced, the 11th Circuit noted, so he could not challenge it now.
Speak with a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Many people charged with crimes will quickly agree to a plea without stopping to consider the potential long-term ramifications. That is why it is always best to stop and speak with a qualified Tampa sex crimes lawyer before agreeing to any plea. Contact the Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation with a member of our criminal defense team.