How to Handle an Alleged Probation Violation

When someone has committed a crime, the judge may place them on probation as part of their sentence. When a judge places a defendant on probation, they often impose requirements such as not committing any new offenses, not consuming drugs or alcohol, and updating your probation officer on changes to your address.

The consequences of a probation violation can be severe and will vary depending on the nature of the underlying crime, the severity of the violation, the terms of your probation, and your criminal record. You could face a longer or stricter probation, a fine, or even jail time.

Common Examples of Probation Violation

A probation violation occurs when a defendant does something they are not supposed to do or fails to do something they are required to do. Most probation violations occur when a defendant does not comply with the judge’s orders. But a defendant can be wrongfully charged with a probation violation because of erroneous drug test results or if samples were mixed up at a lab.

Common examples of probation violations include:

  • Missing an appointment with your probation officer
  • Failing to report for a drug or alcohol screening test
  • Failure to pay fees
  • Engaging in new criminal activity
  • Associating with known criminals
  • Leaving the state without permission.

If your probation officer believes you violated your probation, they will file a petition with the court and ask that your probation be revoked. The court will schedule a hearing to determine whether you violated your probation. If the judge determines you committed a probation violation, they can revoke your probation and require that you complete the remainder of your sentence in jail.

What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing?

When the judge holds a hearing on a probation violation, they will review the evidence to determine whether you violated your probation. You have the right to an attorney at a probation violation hearing. Your lawyer can present evidence that shows why you did not violate your probation or why your punishment should be less severe than what the prosecutor is seeking.

In most criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But when you have been charged with a probation violation, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, the prosecutor only needs to show that it is more likely than not that you committed a probation violation. This is a very low standard. But it also means that to win a hearing on an alleged probation violation, you only need to show it is more likely than not that you did not violate the terms of your probation.

Why to Hire a Probation Violation Lawyer

When the judge placed you on probation, they gave you an opportunity to prove yourself. If you want to stay out of jail after an alleged probation violation, you will need to show that you did not violate the terms of your probation or, if you did, explain how and why the mistake occurred and show that it will not happen again.

For example, suppose you are alleged to have consumed alcohol while on probation. Your lawyer can explain to the judge why you were consuming alcohol and why it won’t happen again. If the test results were wrong and you really didn’t consume alcohol, your lawyer can present evidence to explain how you know the test results were wrong and why you should not be found to have committed a probation violation.

Before the hearing on the probation violation, your lawyer can speak to the prosecutor to explain the circumstances of your situation and describe the steps you have taken to address the situation. For example, if your probation violation involved the use of drugs or alcohol, your lawyer can explain that you are getting tested more frequently or are attending AA or NA meetings. Getting the prosecutor on your side will make it more likely that the judge will agree with your plan and give you another chance.

What To Do After an Alleged Probation Violation

If you are facing allegations of a probation violation, contact the criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law today. We will evaluate your situation, explain your options, and protect your rights. We can advise you on what you should and should not say to your probation officer so you do not unknowingly say something that could be used against you. We can also represent you in court and explain why you did not violate your probation or ask that the judge give you another chance.

To learn more, contact Just Criminal Law today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.