Violation of Probation
What You Need to Know About Violation of Probation
Probation is a way for the judicial system to monitor and restrain law-breakers outside of prisons and jails.
Probation involves meeting with a probation officer, taking drug tests, completing community service, taking courses designed to rehabilitate the the law-breaker, and paying a variety of fees including cost of supervision.
Failure to live up to any element of probation may be grounds for a charge of violation.
The most important thing to understand is that any willful, material violation of a probationary sentence subjects the defendant to being re-sentenced on the original crime up to the maximum for that crime.
For example, a first time DUI offender is subject to a maximum of 6 months of jail plus 6 months of probation. The minimum sentence for a first time DUI offender is 12 months of probation, along with other penalties.
Even a person who completed eleven months of the probation perfectly, would still be subject to up to six months in jail for an eleventh month violation of DUI probation.
Violation of Probation Hearing
People who have been charged with a Violation of Probation may fight the charge by having a hearing.
However, the facts of the original crime are not an issue. The issue is whether the State can prove that a violation occurred, and that it was a material and willful violation.
Normally this is done by having the probation officer testify that the cost of supervision wasn’t paid, or that the defendant failed to report to meetings with the probation officer, or failed to take the required courses or complete the community service, etc.
There is no jury. The judge listens to the evidence and decides whether the violation occurred and whether it was willful and material, if so, the defendant will be found guilty and sentenced.
Sometimes the Violation of Probation charge is prosecuted to scare the defendant into completing the terms of the original probation.
That means that judges sometimes will allow a defendant extra time to take care of their obligations, whether its finishing up a driving course, completing community service, etc.
An attorney may request additional time so that the next time the judge sees the defendant, all the obligations of the original probation have been completed.
It is essential to stay on track and complete the terms of probation as soon as possible in order to avoid worse sanctions.
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