What is Probation?
According to Cornell Law, probation is “a court-imposed criminal sentence that, subject to stated conditions and restrictions, releases a convicted criminal defendant into the community instead of confining him or her to jail or prison.”
The courts determine specific conditions, which vary greatly depending on the charges, the individual, and the circumstances surrounding the crime.
Common Requirements of Probation
Each set of requirements will vary, but some of the most common elements are listed below:
Reporting to a probation or parole officer consistently. Depending on the individual’s risk and charges, this may be weekly, daily, or monthly. Reporting less frequently as they progress through the probationary period is also common.
Requirements of random drug or alcohol testing. In some cases, criminals are not allowed to have alcohol or drugs in their system at any time.
Some criminals will be required to gain employment and remain employed throughout the entire probationary period.
Visitations from probation or parole officers may also be required; sometimes, these visits may be unscheduled. These visits may occur in the home, employment, school, or other areas.
Criminals may be prohibited from possessing a gun or being connected to known criminals in the area while on parole or probation. Associations with criminal activity are also prohibited.
What Does a Probation Violation Consist Of?
Any breach of the above rules can typically result in a probation violation. If your probation or parole officer sets a specific list of rules that apply to you and you choose not to abide or are caught going against the rules, that will likely result in a probation violation.
Common violations include;
- Failing to check in regularly with your probation officer
- Failing a drug screening
- Losing your job or not obtaining one upon your release
- Moving out of the approved range (city, county, state) that you are required to stay in upon release
- Getting arrested for another crime
What Happens If I’m in Violation of My Probation?
A Violation of Probation, VOP, typically results in your parole or probation officer issuing an Affidavit of Violation to the courts. This document includes what violation occurred and the details surrounding the event. If a judge finds you have violated probation, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. In some cases, you may be able to bond out before your hearing.
The hearing is different than court dates for your original offense in that the state has a much lower threshold for proving that you are in violation. Due to this, you may face serious consequences, so it is essential to be adequately prepared.
Your probation or parole officer’s opinion is also highly essential in these hearings, so it is vital to your future to remain in good standing with them throughout your probationary period. When initially charged with the crime, you have a right to remain silent and not have your words used against you. In the case of a POV, hearsay can be used in your hearing, and your words and actions can be used against you to prove you are in violation.
If you violate your probation, you do not have a right to a jury trial. Due to this, the judge who oversees the case has ultimate discretion, and it is vital to ensure they understand your position before determining your fate.
Consequences for Probation Violations
POVs are typically handled in one of three ways. The courts may choose to reinstate your probation, restructure it, or revoke it, meaning you would need to return to jail or prison.
If your probation is reinstated, it typically means that the same rules apply. If the probation is modified, it is likely with stricter requirements, an extension of the probationary period, or both.
How Can I Protect Myself After a Probation Violation?
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney as your advocate should you face a POV is vital. Courts will review the details, consider the opinion of your probation or parole officer and determine your fate. If you have a strong defense through a criminal defense attorney, you can greaten your chances of remaining outside of jail and continuing on your path in public.
Suppose you choose to forego having professional legal representation. In that case, you may be faced with not understanding your rights or succumbing to being returned to jail to finish out the remainder of your original sentence.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?
The courts use their discretion when it comes to most probation violations. Short of committing an even worse crime than you were initially charged with, you may have several options to remain out of jail.
An experienced criminal defense attorney has vast knowledge and resources to assist you in sustaining your freedom. They can review details surrounding your case and establish the patterns you have created in good faith, whether that be gainful employment, treatment programs, good standing in your community, volunteer efforts, etc. By providing a clear picture of the positive actions that you have made since your release, you may have a strong defense for avoiding a return to incarceration.
Call our office at (305) 204-5000 to learn how we can best assist you. With years of experience helping clients from all different backgrounds, we are confident we can formulate a strong defense strategy that protects your future.