Hurricane Irma causes chaos for people on probation
As if dealing with no electricity, no cable, no phone and no job was not enough, many people on probation can add to this the uncertainty and fear of missing a meeting with their probation officer. It is even worse if you are on sex offender probation or were wearing an electronic monitor and have lost power or the ability to recharge your monitoring device. Many of the probation office locations have been closed for close to a week. Many of the Courts have also been closed but most are expected to be back up and running by Monday.
A probation violation has to be willful and substantial.
If you have moved because of Hurricane Irma, immediately notify your probation office.
The mail is still running, even if in some places there is no electricity.
I suggest sending your probation officer a letter describing in detail your situation.
Do not rely on leaving a voice message.
You have to create a paper trail and document the fact you have notified them of changes.
If you are on sex offender probation and you cannot reach your probation officer by telephone, go to the probation office in person. Even if they are not open, leave a letter describing your circumstances listing your new location. You need to document your attempts to comply. If you lost your job and cannot pay probation fees or court costs, you need to document that fact. At our law office here in Ft. Myers, we regularly represent people charged with probation violations. If you think a probation violation is coming, contact us before you are arrested. We may be able to resolve your problem and keep you from being picked up and sitting in jail waiting for a violation hearing.
Do not wait until you are violated. We may be able to convince your probation officer that a technical violation is not your fault. If you are on drug offender probation, do not let the stress of the hurricane situation cause you to slip back into drug use. If you have lost your job, don’t let the frustration and anxiety push you over the edge. You can assume that as soon as the probation department gets up and running again they will be doing drug screens.