Probation is a privilege, not a right. In fact, some states are revising their probation system in an effort to reduce probation officer caseloads.
When probation is granted, those who receive this privilege must adhere to the conditions of probation detailed by the court. A probation violation can have serious consequences that can affect you for years, and it can also eliminate any chance of ever receiving probation in the future, should you find yourself incarcerated again. If you have violated your probation, here are some important things to understand about what you can expect.
Depending on the severity of the criminal offense for which you received probation, you may be arrested for violating probation. You may also be arrested if your probation officer has issued several warnings to you about the violation, and you have not appeared at a hearing to answer to the violation.
If you are arrested, however, you may be eligible to post bail and be released from custody, but you will have to appear at a court hearing to explain to a judge why you violated probation.
A probation violation hearing takes place in front of a judge. At this hearing, you and your lawyer can admit that you did violate your probation, or present evidence that proves you did not violate probation. In most states the standard to prove that you violated probation is “preponderance of the evidence,” which can be as simple as your parole officer testifying to the conditions that you violated. Once the judge has heard from you and the prosecution, a decision is made.
The judge in a probation hearing has broad discretion to punish you if it is determined that you violated probation. The judge can revoke your probation and send you to jail to complete your sentencing agreement.
Alternatively, the judge can reinstate your probation with a warning that any further violations would result in a revocation. But in many states, a judge may order you to serve jail time as one of the conditions of reinstating your probation.
The judge can also rework the terms of the probation, adding more stringent conditions to ensure that you understand the seriousness of the situation. For example, a person who violates probation on a drug charge by smoking marijuana could be ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation program as a new condition of probation.
Finally, the judge can add more time to your probation. For example, a judge could extend a two-year probation to three years after a violation.
Regardless of the reason for violating probation, this is a serious charge that can land you back in jail if you don’t take the right legal steps. Therefore, it is vital that you appear at your probation violation hearing with an experienced attorney who can mount a vigorous defense that will ensure that all your rights are protected. In these cases, the best outcome is for a judge to reinstate your probation terms with no modification, but that may not always be attainable.
The team at the Stokes Law Firm is prepared to help defend you in your probation violation case. Please contact us today at 727-954-0186 for a free legal consultation.