Navigating Probation Revocation Hearings
By definition, probation is the court's determination that a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, may serve a sentence outside of jail and under the supervision of a probation officer. If any of the terms of your probated sentence is violated, a warrant can be issued.
Possible Consequences of Violation of ProbationA Petition for Modification or Revocation of Probation is the name of the document that is filed in court by a probation officer who is alleging that a violation has occurred. A person accused of violating the terms of probation is required to attend a court hearing where a judge will make the determination whether a violation has in fact occurred. If the court determines that a violation occurred, the court can impose the following possible sentences:
Imprisonment for the remainder of the original probated sentence, imposition of additional fines and/or community service, imposition of additional special conditions of probation, and/or reinstatement of probation.
Types of Probation ViolationsThere are different ways in which a person can be deemed to violate the terms of the probated sentence:
(1) Was the alleged violation a technical violation? A technical violation means a person failed to complete a specific requirement of the probated sentence. This includes failing to pay fines, fees, or restitution. It also includes failing to report to the probation officer, or completing community service hours as required.
(2) Was the alleged violation a special condition of probation? A special condition of probation means the person failed to complete a unique requirement of the probated sentence. Special conditions include such prohibited acts as contacting the injured party in the case when instructed to stay away from such person, or completing a drug awareness or DUI class.
(3) Was the alleged violation a substantive violation of the probated sentence? A substantive violation means the person is arrested for committing another criminal offense while on probation.
Available OptionsThere are options available to a person who is facing a possible revocation of the probated sentence. In the event of a technical violation, negotiations can occur with the prosecutor wherein a person "waives" or gives up a hearing by agreeing to the technical violations in exchange for favorable treatment.
In the event a person violated a special condition of probation, the prosecutor will likely seek incarceration for a period of time; however, such time cannot exceed the balance of the probated sentence. However, when it appears a person has committed a new criminal offense while on probation, the prosecutor can seek to revoke the full balance of the probated sentence or the maximum that a person could receive on the new criminal offense, whichever is lesser.
Please note that when dealing with the commission of a new criminal offense, such can be used to revoke the probated sentence regardless of the disposition of the new criminal offense. Stated differently, even if the new criminal charge is dismissed or a person is acquitted, the new offense can still be used to revoke probation.
It is imperative that critical steps are taken immediately to avoid the consequences of a probation revocation which can include the loss of freedom. From negotiations with the prosecutor for favorable treatment to having a full hearing to refute the allegations on your behalf, skilled legal representation is essential to preserving your freedom.