Probation Violations: What to Expect
By: Ilkhanoff & Silverstein
Violating a term of your probation can have severe consequences. If you are facing returning to jail, an attorney can help defend you at the hearing. At times when people are convicted for a crime they are given probation as a part of their sentence. Probation can be a very appealing alternative to jail; however, when someone violates any of the terms of their probation, they can face stiff penalties.
A probation violation occurs when a person violates or breaks any of the terms of their probation. The consequences of violating a term of one’s probation can vary depending on a number of factors; for instance, the nature of the violation, if there were any prior violations, if there were any prior warnings issued and of course, the severity of the violation itself. A probation violation can have significant consequences such as hefty fines, jail time, extended probation and more.
When a person is originally sentenced, a probation officer is assigned to their case. This person is responsible for keeping tabs on the offender and making sure they abide by all the terms of their probation. Offenders are expected to maintain regular visits with their probation officer, failure to keep one of these appointments will result in a violation of their probation. This happens to be one of the most common types of probation violations.
Each person’s individual circumstances differ; therefore, not all ground rules are the same. For example, if a person was convicted of drunk driving, they may be required to refrain from drinking alcohol, whereas a person who is convicted of domestic violence may not be allowed to return to their family home or visit their victim. In the first example, failing an alcohol or drug test may be a probation violation, whereas in the second example, contacting the domestic violence victim may be a probation violation.
Common examples of probation violations include: failing to attend a scheduled meeting with a probation officer, failing to appear at a scheduled court appearance, failing to pay required court fines or restitution to a victim, traveling out of state without obtaining approval from the probation officer first, possessing or selling illegal drugs, committing further crimes and getting arrested for a new offense.
There is no set standard of what happens after a probation violation. Probation officers have a broad discretion when it comes to issuing a warning, or requiring the offender to appear in court for a probation violation hearing. When deciding how to handle a probation violation, the probation officer will consider the nature of the violation, any prior warnings that have been issued, among other considerations. When an offender is requested to appear in court, their probation officer will request that the individual is penalized, which could include going to jail.
At the sentencing hearing, the sentencing judge will decide whether or not a probation violation occurred. It will be up to the prosecuting attorney to prove that a violation occurred based on overwhelming evidence. This is a critical time for the alleged offender to hire their own legal representation. A defense lawyer can play an integral part in helping the offender avoid further sentencing. By presenting compelling evidence on behalf of the offender, a skilled attorney may help sway the judge in favor of the offender and thus avoid further penalties. Otherwise, the judge has the power to revoke the probation and require the offender to serve the remaining time of the original sentence.