If you've been given probation after a criminal conviction, you're probably relieved that you aren't going to jail. However, probation is serious business, and a wrong move can land you back in trouble, and put you in jail after all. Learn more about what causes a probation violation, and what happens next.
How Probation Violations Happen
The easiest way to avoid a probation violation is to make sure that you clearly understand the terms of your probation and obey them. If you have any questions about your probation ask your attorney to explain them before you get into trouble.
There are several common ways that people end up violating their probation, including:
- not paying fines that have been levied by the court,
- not attending court-ordered classes or meetings, like AA or anger management classes,
- not attending court-ordered psychological counseling sessions,
- contacting people that the court has said they cannot contact, such as ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends,
- visiting relatives outside of state during holidays or for other family events,
- not reporting to probation officers when required,
- not submitting to drug tests, or failing one, and
- not appearing at court when scheduled.
Make sure that you don't fall into any of these traps. If something happens that is going to interfere with your probation terms, you need to contact your probation officer right away to ask for assistance.
When Probation Is Violated
Your parole officer has a great deal of latitude when choosing how to handle a probation violation. He or she can issue you a warning, or require you to attend a hearing. That's why it's essential to work with your probation officer if you are having any trouble complying with the terms of your probation, because he or she ultimately decides whether or not you'll reappear before the judge.
If you are required to go in front of a judge, you are likely looking at some form of punishment, including jail time. At the very least you will likely face additional terms on your probation if you want to stay out of jail, including community service or more fines.
What many people don't realize is that when you are accused of violating your probation, the probation officer doesn't have to prove that you're guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." The probation officer just has to show "by a preponderance of the evidence" that you are guilty, and can use hearsay or other evidence that wouldn't normally be admissible in court.
What You Can Do
If you're accused of a probation violation, you have the right to have an attorney represent you at your hearing, and you need one. An attorney is going to best know how to submit evidence or call witnesses in your defense, or to negotiate something less than jail time for you.
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, something will happen that puts you in violation of the terms of your probation. If that happens, be proactive and talk to your attorney, such as someone from the Law Firm Of Douglas Bare, and your probation officer to see if something can be worked out, so that you avoid having to go in front of the judge again.