As a south Florida probation violation lawyer, I was interested to see a probation violation that made the news because of a high-profile defendant. The Orlando Sentinel reported Feb. 22 that Jamar Hornsby, a former redshirt freshman safety for the University of Florida, reported to jail the day before to serve 90 days for violating his probation. The underlying charge was for four misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a credit card. Hornsby was arrested for that charge in May of 2008. He was also released from the Gators, and returned to his native Mississippi. There, he got into trouble again in 2009 when he was charged with misdemeanor assault Starkville, Miss. That was the basis for the probation violation charge that landed him in jail. Hornsby's original legal trouble stemmed from an October 2007 motorcycle accident that killed his teammate, Michael Guilford, and another student named Ashley Slonina. Six months after their deaths, Hornsby was accused of using Slonina's credit card about 70 times. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to probation, restitution and court costs. After leaving Florida, he played for a community college and signed a letter of intent with Ole Miss, but was released after his arrest for assault, for allegedly attacking a man who rear-ended his car in a McDonald's drive-through. He will serve 90 days in Alachua County Jail in Gainesville for the probation violation. After finishing his jail sentence, he will need to enroll at Mississippi's Delta State quickly to make a May 31 deadline to play for that school. As a Miami assault criminal defense attorney, I hope the high profile of this case reminds probationers how important it is to stay out of trouble. When you're on probation, almost any law-breaking more serious than a parking ticket can land you back in jail. If that happens, your jail or prison sentence is determined by the sentence for the original crime – not whatever you're accused of doing to violate probation. That means you can face long sentences for relatively minor infractions. To make matters worse, people on probation have fewer rights than other people, which means police can do things like search you at any time without permission. And as Hornsby's case shows, you can also suffer non-criminal penalties like losing a job or a job opportunity. That's why your best choice is to stay out of trouble – and, if you get in trouble, why you should hire a Fort Lauderdale probation violation attorney as soon as possible.
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