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Joseph
Joseph, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 7279
Experience:  I have 15 years experience in criminal litigation including several years as a felony prosecutor
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I am required to wear a gps anklet as a term of my probation.

Customer Question

I am required to wear a gps anklet as a term of my probation. Recently, my PO replaced the bracelet and now I'm frequently getting "lost bracelet" alarms. PO questioned me about it and sounded as if he's going to violate me. The equipment is very difficult to assess if it's working correctly (other than the PO saying "its working correctly")... I suspect there is a way to adjust the sensitivity of the device but can't find anyone with enough expertise to inform me about it. I don't want to find ways to "cheat" the box, but I feel I should have full information about how these things can malfunction. Where is an expert that can independently test these devices and what are the standards of acceptable operation?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.

I'm a Florida criminal defense attorney and I've had quite a few clients with the same problem, the GPS unit sounds a false alarm rather frequently. Unfortunately, the defendant has little ability to do anything proactively about the alarms.

 

All you can do is comply with your conditions of probation. If the box sets off an alarm, either ensure that you are in proximity to the box or call in, as required by the type of alarm. Working in your favor is the fact that the problem is common and very well known, meaning that the PO's are used to dealing with it.

 

Absent something more, I suspect your PO is not going to violate you. In the years that I've been dealing with these units, I have never had a client violated over nothing but alarms from the GPS unit. Instead, the PO would want to have an entirely separate violation and/or confirmation that the person was actually away from the unit.

 

Please let me know if anything requires clarification.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don't know what county you're used to working with, but here in Pasco it seems that the PO's have zero tolerance. Last year, on December 7th, I was hauled from my home and spent 5 weeks in the county jail on a VOP because the monitoring service claimed I was "away" from the unit for 7 minutes... I bonded out after 5 weeks, and prevailed at the hearing and was returned to probation. But that little episode cost me a great job opportunity, $500 in bond costs, and all the food in my refigerator was spoiled (doesn't seem like much but when you're trying to put your life back together with no income, it hurts) to say nothing about spending the holidays with some pretty unsavory characters. It seems that this so-called "bracelet replacement" is setting me up for another stint in jail for several weeks. I went eleven months with no problems. Now, since the 15th when the bracelet was replaced, I've had TWELVE "bracelet gone" alarms -- very upsetting. So, with all respect, I am looking for a contact that can indpendently determine if this particular device is functioning within acceptable parameters. I suspect that these PO's know which bracelets and which boxes will evoke an alarm and which ones are less "sensitive". I feel like I'm being set up -- call it paranoia if you like, but this county has ruined my business and reputation and now it has me trapped here on probation. Can you point me in the direction of a technical expert on these devices? You mentioned that the problem is "common and well known" -- is there verifiable data or is this just anecdotal?
Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.

While I'm a little further south, I've actually handled cases from the Panhandle all the way down to Dade County. While Pasco County does have a reputation for being rather strict, the same laws and rules apply throughout the state.

 

One such law is that the state has the burden of proof in a VOP. Meaning, the prosecutor needs to prove that you did, in fact, violate your probation by failing to comply with the requirements of the GPS unit. This would mean that the prosecutor would need to provide actual evidence of non-compliance as opposed to relying solely on the GPS records.

 

As to testing the units, I am aware of no such company or opportunity. The problem is that the units belong to the state and no defendant has the legal authority to have the unit opened, examined or tested. They are, however, subject to testing by the state if the probationer seems to be having problems with the unit. And no, there is no scientific data of which I am aware. Rather, having had several dozen clients, and several dozen PO's, dealing with GPS units, I am confident that the problems are common knowledge throughout the court system.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
I'm looking for concrete information on this system. It seems that Florida has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people on these devices, but from what I can determine, nobody is being held to account that these devices do what they are advertised to do. These are devices that operate on several radio frequencies. As such, there are standards of frequency adjustment, output power, internal noise, etc. Therefore, I am looking for names, phone numbers, etc., for the person(s) who can provide this information. Good people who are trying hard to make their way while yoked to these devices are being routinely "violated" every day in Florida and it looks like the State is holding all the cards close to their chest -- I believe that if the truth of these devices gets out, a court may invalidate their operation and that would cost the State millions in lost revenue.
Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.

With all due respect, my answer was not "incomplete". While it may not be the answer you want to hear, it is legally sound. By way of example, let me tell you about a legal argument that is making its way through the Florida courts....

 

When a person is arrested in Florida for DUI, they are requested to submit to a breath test on an instrument known as the Intoxilyzer 8000. Based hugely on the results of this test, the person faces a conviction for DUI, possible incarceration, probation, fines and classes. One would assume that such a defendant would be entitled to examine the instrument, know the schematics and be permitted to test it.

 

Criminal defense attorneys throughout Florida, myself included, have been filing motions for about two years to gain access to the instrument. The manufacturer, CMI, has thus far refused to release anything to us. Our motions have been heard at the county court level and the circuit court level and are now reaching the appellate courts. As of right now, we have not been permitted to purchase one instrument, examine one instrument or test one instrument. In denying our motions, the courts have held that the instrument is tested by the manufacturer and by the state and, as such, the defense bar should agree that it is reliable.

 

As of this moment in time, your situation is much the same. The GPS unit is tested by the manufacturer and maintained by the state. As of right now, I am not aware of a single defendant that has been permitted to open, examine or test the unit in any way.

 

As a note, your rights as a probationer are less than those of a person charged with an original crime. A person charged with an original crime is presumed innocent and his charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, a probationer has already been found guilty and his violations only need to be proved to the greater weight of the evidence. Meaning, if the DUI defendant has been unable to gain access to the relevant instrument, a probation defendant has little hope of gaining access to the relevant information.

 

I regret that my answer is unfavorable, but please understand that it would be unfair to you (and unprofessional of me) to provide you with anything less than a truthful response.

 

 

Also, several customers have asked how they may direct a question to me in particular. If you specifically want me to assist you in your legal matter, just put "FOR JOSEPH" in the subject line and I will gladly pick up the question as soon as I am on-line.

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