State v. Carter, No. SC95605.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtQUINCE, J.
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. John H. CARTER, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. SC95605.
Decision Date05 December 2002

835 So.2d 259

STATE of Florida, Petitioner,
v.
John H. CARTER, Respondent

No. SC95605.

Supreme Court of Florida.

December 5, 2002.


835 So.2d 260
Richard E. Doran, Attorney General, James W. Rogers, Tallahassee Bureau Chief, Criminal Appeals, and Karla D. Ellis, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL, for Petitioner

Nancy A. Daniels, Public Defender, and P. Douglas Brinkmeyer, Assistant Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, Tallahassee, FL, for Respondent.

QUINCE, J.

We have for review Carter v. State, 24 Fla. L. Weekly D1063, ___ So.2d ___, 1999 WL 289215 (Fla. 1st DCA April 30, 1999), which expressly and directly conflicts with Schwartz v. State, 719 So.2d 965 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998), and Strunk v. State, 728 So.2d 320 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const. Because the district court in Carter applied a per se rule to the question of whether the failure to file a single monthly report constitutes a substantial violation of probation, we quash and remand for reconsideration not inconsistent with this opinion. Although the First District's decision may ultimately be correct, we reject any per se rule that the failure to file a single report may never justify probation revocation.

After pleading nolo contendere to aggravated battery, trespass, and misdemeanor stalking, John H. Carter (Carter) was sentenced in 1997 to nine months in jail followed by two years of probation. Thereafter, the State filed an affidavit for violation

835 So.2d 261
of probation charging Carter with five violations, including failure to file a report for the month of February 1998. He was found not guilty of all violations except the failure to file the report; Carter admitted that violation. The trial court revoked Carter's probation and sentenced him to 54.9 months in state prison

On appeal the First District Court of Appeal, relying on its earlier precedent, held that failure to file a single monthly report does not by itself constitute a substantial violation of probation. See Moore v. State, 632 So.2d 199 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994); accord Sanders v. State, 675 So.2d 665 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996). The First District acknowledged that its decision was in conflict with the decision by the Fourth District in Schwartz v. State, 719 So.2d 965 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998). This petition for discretionary review followed.

The State argues that the failure to file a single monthly report by itself may be a proper basis for revocation as was held in Schwartz and Strunk. We hold that failure to file a single monthly report may, in certain circumstances, justify probation revocation if such failure is willful and substantial and supported by the greater weight of the evidence. See Hightower v. State, 529 So.2d 726 (Fla. 2d DCA 1988).1

In the instant case, the district court improperly applied a per se rule when it relied on Moore and Sanders in reaching its conclusion that the failure to file a single monthly report as a matter of law is not a substantial violation, and thus not sufficient to justify a probation revocation. Such a holding means that under no circumstances could a failure to file a single report justify a revocation of probation. Such a per se rule strips the trial court of its obligation to assess any alleged violations in the context of a defendant's case. Trial courts must consider each violation on a case-by-case basis for a determination of whether, under the facts and circumstances, a particular violation is willful and substantial and is supported by the greater weight of the evidence. In other words, the trial court must review the evidence to determine whether the defendant has made reasonable efforts to comply with the terms and conditions of his or her probation. See Thorpe v. State, 642 So.2d 629 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994); Stevens v. State, 599 So.2d 254 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992).

We agree with Judge Letts' statements in his specially concurring opinion in Davis v. State, 474 So.2d 1246 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985) (Letts, J., specially concurring), that probation reports are not merely technical niceties and the failure to report is a serious violation of the privilege of probation. The probation system operates under a tremendous workload. In order to maintain its effectiveness, all participants, including the defendants, must comply with the requirements imposed upon them. Failure to enforce the reporting requirements undermines the system and the practical consequence is no control, no supervision, and no probation.

However, the application of these principles does not mean failure to comply in every instance is, a fortiori, a willful and substantial violation justifying revocation.

835 So.2d 262
Indeed, the initial decision to place someone on probation...

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104 practice notes
  • Del Valle v. State, No. SC08-2001
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 15, 2011
    ...a particular violation is willful and substantial and is supported by the greater weight of the evidence." State v. Carter, 835 So. 2d 259, 261 (Fla. 2002). Although a defendant has fewer protections in probation proceedings than in criminal proceedings, we must always be mindful that the p......
  • Del Valle v. State , No. SC08–2001.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 13, 2012
    ...a particular violation is willful and substantial and is supported by the greater weight of the evidence.” State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla.2002). Although a defendant has fewer protections in probation proceedings than in criminal proceedings, we must always be mindful that the pot......
  • Brown v. McNeil, Case No. 3:05-cv-86-32TEM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • May 14, 2008
    ...weight of the evidence," regardless of whether the violation is one based on a failure to pay or of another kind. See State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla. 2002) (remanding for determination of whether admitted failure to file monthly report was both willful and substantial violation); ......
  • Savage v. State, No. 2D12–2269.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 30, 2013
    ...probationer willfully and substantially violated probation. Del Valle v. State, 80 So.3d 999, 1012 (Fla.2011) (citing State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla.2002)); see also McCumber v. State, 682 So.2d 1214, 1215–16 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996) (citing Davidson v. State, 419 So.2d 728 (Fla. 2d DCA......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
104 cases
  • Del Valle v. State, No. SC08-2001
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 15, 2011
    ...a particular violation is willful and substantial and is supported by the greater weight of the evidence." State v. Carter, 835 So. 2d 259, 261 (Fla. 2002). Although a defendant has fewer protections in probation proceedings than in criminal proceedings, we must always be mindful that the p......
  • Del Valle v. State , No. SC08–2001.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 13, 2012
    ...a particular violation is willful and substantial and is supported by the greater weight of the evidence.” State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla.2002). Although a defendant has fewer protections in probation proceedings than in criminal proceedings, we must always be mindful that the pot......
  • Brown v. McNeil, Case No. 3:05-cv-86-32TEM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • May 14, 2008
    ...weight of the evidence," regardless of whether the violation is one based on a failure to pay or of another kind. See State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla. 2002) (remanding for determination of whether admitted failure to file monthly report was both willful and substantial violation); ......
  • Savage v. State, No. 2D12–2269.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 30, 2013
    ...probationer willfully and substantially violated probation. Del Valle v. State, 80 So.3d 999, 1012 (Fla.2011) (citing State v. Carter, 835 So.2d 259, 261 (Fla.2002)); see also McCumber v. State, 682 So.2d 1214, 1215–16 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996) (citing Davidson v. State, 419 So.2d 728 (Fla. 2d DCA......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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