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Probation violation due to failure to pay restitution...What to expect?

Boston, MA |

I am currently on probation for larceny over $250. The only probation term was to pay restitution in the amount $500 on the day of sentencing, followed by $300 a month for 18 months. I did pay the initial $500, but lost my job and was unable to make the $300 /mo payments for 4 months. I received a letter with a court date for a probation violation hearing next week for failure to pay.

I have found a job roughly 2 weeks ago and will be able to start making payments again; I am wondering what to expect at the hearing. Also, would walking into the courthouse with some money for a payment, say $400-600, be enough to convince the judge to not incarcerate me?

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Attorney answers 3


If the only element of the probation violation is your non-payment, then having some money to pay on the day of the hearing will likely go far in your favor. You'd be in better shape if you have some money AND a lawyer with you. Probation violation hearings are like small trials - you and the probation officer both have the right to put in evidence, present witnesses, cross examine the witnesses for the other side, etc. As well there are Rules that govern these hearings. You probably don't know them. A competent lawyer would. If you can't afford a lawyer call your local county bar association or the Mass Bar Association. They maintain lists of lawyers who will take cases for a reduced fee.

Going forward, make sure you stay in touch with your probation officer. If s/he had known you'd lost your job you might well have avoided this violation hearing.

Good luck!

Attorney Lauren Craig Redmond ~ 617.953.6116 ~ No attorney/client relationship is established or implied by any email or phone conversation.


As you know, probation is a type of punishment that may be ordered by a court as an alternative to incarceration. It involves the threat of future action if a person does not act according to the will of the court. If a Court finds a violation of your probation contract, you are subjected to being re-sentenced which could result in your incarceration.

Coming into court with money in your pocket however, is exactly what you should do to have any chance of avoiding your recognizance being revoked. The court's primary interest in your case is to make the victim you stole from whole by getting you to pay the restitution you promised to pay when placed on probation. The court can't get you to pay restitution if it incarcerates you. Bringing money to court will make the court listen and show that you are acting in good faith so as to give you a second chance. Tell your probation officer that you will be making a payment and will get back on tract so he can advocate for a continuance of your probation in lieu of recommending incarceration. Good luck.

Attorney Steven J. Topazio
10 Winthrop Square, Suite 4100
Boston, MA 02110

Any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need additional information, call Attorney Topazio directly at 617-422-4803 regarding your specific concern.


Being proactive would have been your best defense--you should have gone to court and asked that your case be brought forward so that you could share this information with the judge. At this point, you should contact your probation officer in person and explain and catch up what you can with payments. You will still have to attend the violation hearing, but the p.o. will be able to vouch for your attempt to catch up. If you have proof that you lost your job, were unemployed for four months, and have since retained employment, that is helpful as well. If this is your only violation, you may be given a break at the hearing. It depends upon the underlying charge and your history with the court and the probation department.

Good luck.

Providing users with information is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. However, if in reading my response, you are interested in retaining me to represent you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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