Most people who are charged with a crime are let out on probation. This means that you don’t have to stay in a jail cell until your trail. You are free to continue to live your life in your community. But there are certain things which you may not be allowed to do, mostly because they relate to the crime you are charged with or they make it easier to flee from justice.
To do something you have been prohibited from doing violates your probation and it could have some pretty dire consequences for you. Not only that, but it could look really bad on your record. But sometimes probation gets broken and there’s nothing you could have done about it or you overlooked something you shouldn’t have. It’s important to know what to do in the case that you ever violate your probation.
How is Probation Violated?
The best way to find out how your probation can be violated is to read the orders given to you. Orders specific to your case could be to avoid contacting the other parties involved, to not operate a vehicle or even to avoid using a computer with an internet connection. These specific circumstances will be unique.
But there are some more general ways in which you can violate your probation. These are ways in which you may break your probation without even realizing you had. They include:
- Failure to Show for a Scheduled Appointment: If you have a meeting with your probation officer scheduled then it is imperative that you attend. Otherwise you are violating your probation.
- Failure to Show for Court: Appearing in court is even more important than getting to your meetings with your probation officer. Failure to attend a court showing reflects extremely poorly on you.
- Failure to Pay Fines: While you may forget about an appointment, it isn’t easy. It is much easier to forget to pay a small fine. Yet failing to pay a fine can see your probation violated and lead to the negative ramifications discussed below.
- Failure to Show for Community Service:
- Meeting Criminals: Meeting with past acquaintances who share involvement in previous crimes with you is something you’ll want to avoid. It doesn’t look good to be cavorting with known criminals and on top of that it can violate your probation.
- Traveling Out of State: Traveling out of state sends a red flag that you are a flight risk. If you have no intention of trying to avoid the consequences of your case then you should have no reason to flee the state. There are cases where exceptions can be made but they must be done ahead of any traveling you do and not afterwards.
- Possessing or Selling Drugs: This one should come as no surprise. Illegal drugs are to be avoided like the plague if you’re on probation.
- Committing Additional Crimes: If you commit an additional crime then you will be arrested for that crime. If you are on probation then you will be in violation of your probation on top of all the trouble that stems from the new charge.
What Happens When You Violate Your Probation?
What happens when you violate your probation has a lot to do with the specifics of the circumstances of the violation. If it is your first violation then the consequences are likely to be much lighter than if you’ve violated probation before and smaller violations will be treated differently from the more extreme violations such as committing additional offenses.
When you violate your probation then the typical outcome is:
- You’re Given a Warning: If the violation was small and it is your first time violating your probation then you might get off with a simple warning. Depending on the severity of the case, you may not even get reported at all as probation officers are allowed to use their own discretion when handling the situation. This is only likely to occur when the violation is rather harmless.
- You Have a Court Appearance: If the circumstances of your violation are more complicated then your probation officer may request for you to appear in court. A date will be set and you absolutely must appear in court that day. If you don’t then you have pretty much no chance of winning your case because failure to appear to a scheduled court date also violates the probation.
- A Judge Listens to Your Case: At your court appearance you will be given the chance to plead your case in front of a judge. This is your chance to lay out why you choose to violate your probation and share your side of the story. It is also up to the prosecuting attorney to show evidence that the probation violation did occur.
- A Judge Hands Out a Sentence: The judge will hand out a sentence depending on the circumstances of the case. Smaller violations may result in more community service hours or an extended period of probation. More severe violations can result in the probation being revoked and you seeing more time behind bars.
How Do You Win a Probation Violation Hearing?
A few strategies which you can use to win a probation violation hearing are:
- To show that you did not actually violate your probation. If you can convince the judge that the probation violation did not occur then you will win.
- Fix the violation, typically by doing what you were told to in the first place. If you were told to do community service but skipped out then doing the community service, with a few more hours added to the total, can fix it.
- Some violations can’t be fixed but you can start the work to fix the deeper issues that lead to it, such as attending rehab for a drug crime.
I Broke My Probation, What Should I Do Next?
If you have broken your probation and you are given a court date to argue your case in front of a judge the best thing to do is hire a great attorney with experience in probation violation cases.
An experienced attorney will be able to help you craft a defense. Give us a call at (717) 340-4980 to see how we can help you today.