Broward County, Florida defendant, Anthony Green, recently lost his appeal of a 2008 conviction for violating his probation. In 1999, Green was sentenced to 15 years of probation following a no-contest plea to robbery with a firearm.
On June 2, 2008, Green was allegedly driving his silver Saturn when he ran a red light at 1:30 in the morning. After pulling over, Green fled on foot upon being approached by police officers. Ultimately, Green was arrested after he dumped cocaine in some bushes. During the arrest, Green allegedly fought with police, hitting one in the head.
Green argued two points on appeal. First, he claimed that prosecutors failed to prove that he had tampered with evidence or that he possessed narcotics equipment. Second, Green claimed that the Court’s findings that he had battered a police officer, possessed cocaine, and resisted an officer with violence, were insufficient to sustain a willful, substantial, and material violation of probation, warranting revocation of probation and imposition of a maximum sentence.
In the end, the Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed with Green as to his first point, but disagreed as to the second. The end result was a remand to the trial court for the entry of an order revoking probation. This made no difference for Green who still must serve his 15 year sentence, less credit for time already served.
The most interesting part of this case, however, concerns its very clear discussion about the legal standard for revoking probation. To that end, the appeals court relied on Jenkins v. State, 963 So. 2d 311, 313 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007) and Steiner v. State, 604 So. 2d 1265, 1267 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992). In order for a revocation of probation to be triggered, he “greater weight of the evidence” must prove that any violation was “willful” and “substantial.” The court also explained that this determination is a question of fact that will not be reversed on appeal, unless there is no evidence to support such conclusions. Jenkins, 963 So. 2d at 313 (quoting Davis v. State, 796 So. 2d 1222, 1225 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).