It has long been the law in Florida that a person's probation cannot be violated based solely upon hearsay. This particular rule of law was at issue in the case of Lewis v. State of Florida which was decided in 2008 by Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal.
In the Lewis case, Monica Lewis was initially placed on probation for the crime of felony petit theft. However, Ms. Lewis's probation officer later filed an affidavit of violation of probation alleging that Lewis had been arrested twice while on probation and that she had failed to provide her probation officer with that information when asked.
In attempting to prove that Ms. Lewis had in fact violated the conditions of her probation, the prosecutor presented the following evidence at Lewis's probation violation hearing:
Lewis's most recent probation officer also testified to the following at that same hearing:
On appeal, however, the appellate court that reviewed Ms. Lewis's case ruled that the lower-court judge erred when he held that Lewis had violated her probation because "only hearsay evidence was presented to prove [that Lewis] had been arrested for new charges. The probation officer based her testimony on supposition, the probable cause affidavit, and the court file. She had no personal knowledge of the alleged new arrest."
Although Ms. Lewis won her case on appeal, her victory may be short-lived. That is because the court of appeal sent her case back to the trial court with instructions that the prosecutor could once again try to prove that Lewis violated her probation as long as her probationary term had not yet expired.
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