Violation of Probation

When someone is convicted of a crime, especially a misdemeanor crime, they often think probation is the way to go. In the recent case of Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.  As you have probably read about in all of the papers, TMZ, ESPN, and countless other places, Chad Johnson was placed on probation in Broward County for Domestic Battery against his now ex wife Evelyn Lozada and given the standard 12 months of probation to include anger management classes.  (It did not help his lawyer or his case when his wife went on to release statements through her publicist about not tolerating domestic violence and shared her story with most major talk shows. For those of you unfamiliar with her, she was on the VH1 reality TV show Basketball Wives and was quite violent herself. And yes, I’m admitting I’ve watched it, once.)

The former NFL star violated his probation by not showing up to meetings with his probation officer, among other things, and his lawyer worked out a deal to keep him out of jail and get him reinstated on probation with the addition of more community service hours. Looks like a good deal, until he slaps, or pats, his lawyer on the rear and the courtroom breaks out in laughter. (For why this is inappropriate please look at the past few blogs called “How not to act in court” and “What not to wear in court”) The judge then rejects his plea deal and sentences him to 30 days in jail. While in jail he tweets “Love me through the good and the bad . . . .see  you in 30.” This is NOT going to help when his lawyer asks for a resentencing. If he’s so concerned about his 30 days, why is he tweeting? It’s like a Lindsay Lohan train wreck.

When anyone violates their probation, it is ultimately up to the judge as to whether or not they serve jail time or are reinstated on probation. Judges consider many factors when making their decision, such as remorse or the ability to take things seriously, and Johnson’s actions didn’t show either of those things. Anytime I go into court with my clients, I am very clear of what is expected of them and how to dress and act. If it looks like you take things seriously and are remorseful, you will have a much better outcome with the judge if you violate Probation. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good your lawyer is, if you do or say something that offends the judge in court, you are most likely going to jail. And if you tweet or Facebook about it later, no one can help you.

What may help his cause is the former Hillsborough County Prosecutor, turned Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, has entered in the mix on his side. She apparently told TMZ that “this event seems to be an issue of judicial temperament.” Why the Florida Attorney General is talking to TMZ of all media outlets just blows up the insanity surrounding this entire media circus. But she’s clearly on his side and thinks the judge is wrong. It will be interesting to see what sort of pull she has with the judges in Broward County. If only my clients could get this kind of backing.

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