Probation is an alternative to serving a jail sentence for certain crimes. It is essentially a period of being under the supervision of a probation officer, during which time you are required to fulfill certain probation conditions. For example, a probation period may include completing community service or attending counseling sessions. For questions about probation, contact TF Law's experienced Greenville, SC criminal defense attorney today!
But if these conditions aren't met then serious consequences of violating probation can occur. A report by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics found that a total of 3,890,400 adults were under community supervision, which demonstrates the extent of how common probation violations are.
How Probation Is Violated
When someone is put on probation, they are required to abide by the terms and conditions set out by their probation officer. If an individual does not follow through on these requirements or violates any of the rules associated with their probation, then it can be considered a violation. This could include things like failing to appear for mandatory meetings or tests, being arrested for another crime, or failing a drug test.
If someone is found to have violated their probation agreements by engaging in criminal activity, they could face criminal charges. This could mean up to the maximum sentence of the original crime they were on probation for. Additionally, a violation of probation can also mean additional time behind bars or prison terms depending on the severity of the violation. In some cases, an individual could even be placed on a more restrictive or intensive probation program if they are found to have violated their probation.
Furthermore, violations of probation can also include minor infractions such as being found to be in possession of an illegal drug "drug possession" or substance. In these cases, the individual may not necessarily face criminal charges but could instead receive additional probation requirements or stricter rules.
It's important to note that violating probation is taken extremely seriously by the court and can result in severe consequences, i.e., a criminal matter with the maximum penalty imposed. Depending on the severity of the violation, this could mean that your probation is revoked, meaning you may have to serve out the remainder of your time in jail.
Your Rights After Violating Probation
It is not generally desirable to have your probation revoked. It is crucial to, however, understand your rights if you are accused of violating the terms of probation and face potential revocation.
Right to Remain Silent
First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions or make statements without legal representation. As expected, it is always in your best interests to find a lawyer who specializes in criminal law and can represent you as soon as possible. It is also important to remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, meaning they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of violating your probation.
Right to Appeal Decision
If the court finds that you have violated the probation terms then you have a right to appeal the decision. This can allow you to present a more detailed explanation of your actions and potentially receive a lesser punishment. At this point, it is highly recommended to seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney who can help you present the appropriate argument to the court.
Right to be Informed
Most importantly, you have the right to understand what is happening in your case and to make informed decisions about how to proceed. Being aware of the legal implications of violating probation can go a long way in helping you remain compliant and avoid any potential consequences.
Violation of Probation Proceedings
At a Violation of Probation hearing, the judge will listen to both sides of the argument and determine whether or not you have violated your probation. Typically, the court will require your probation officer to present evidence and testimony that outlines why you have violated the terms of your probation. The prosecution then has the opportunity to present evidence to support the allegations. Generally, rules of evidence are applicable at a VOP hearing and the defendant has the right to cross-examine any witnesses called.
You have a right to present your own evidence, make statements on your behalf, and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. The judge will then make a decision based on all the evidence presented.
It is important to understand that if you are found guilty then the judge has wide discretion on how to handle the situation. As such, it is important to prepare for your hearing a strong defense to present to obtain the best possible outcome.
Potential Outcomes of a Probation Violation Hearing
Given the nature of probation violation hearings, the outcome can vary and there could be severe penalties. The court may decide to revoke probation and have you serve the remainder of your jail time or prison sentence, extend the length of probation, impose additional fines or sanctions, or even dismiss the violation altogether.
As noted earlier, it is up to the judge to determine how to handle a probation violation. Ultimately, the outcome can depend on factors like the severity of the violation and your criminal record.
Can You Be Protected If You Violate Probation?
Yes, there are common defenses available to those accused of violating probation. For example, you could argue that the violation was due to circumstances beyond your control or that the violation was minor and not worth revoking your probation. In other cases, it is possible to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution or argue that the violation was unintentional.
Ultimately, the best defense will depend on your particular circumstances and it is always wise to enlist a lawyer specialized in criminal defense to help you present your case.
The bottom line is, if you are accused of violating probation, it is important to take the allegations seriously and seek legal counsel as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your rights, and navigate the criminal justice system.
At TF Law, we understand the complexities of probation violation cases and we strive to provide our clients with the best possible defense. Our law firm and experienced attorneys are committed to helping you seek justice and make sure your rights are protected.
Contact us today at 864-618-2323 to discuss how we can help you!