The Harsh Penalties of Probation Violation
Probation is a privilege and not a right. To continue serving out a sentence on probation, a defendant has to comply with any number of conditions
These conditions depend on the original crime and may include conditions such as abstaining from drug and alcohol use, checking in with a probation officer at regular intervals, and wearing an ankle monitoring device.
What happens if I violate my probation?
There are four stages in probation violation proceedings. In many cases, your defense attorney may be able to consolidate some of the proceedings so that you may be released from jail and placed back on probation much faster.
- Petition for Probation Revocation
For minor technical violations and first offenses, a probation officer may simply elect to give you a warning. However, in most cases, if your probation officer determines you have violated a term of your probation, he or she has the authority to file a petition with the criminal court to revoke your probation.
If the violation is serious, such as a Term 1 violation, the probation officer may issue a warrant for your arrest. If this happens, then you will be considered non-bondable and will not be able to pay bail to get released from jail until all of the proceedings have concluded.
It is very difficult to obtain release from jail once a defendant has been deemed non-bondable, although very skilled criminal defense attorneys are sometimes able to accomplish this. Requiring a defendant to remain in jail often gives the prosecution an unfair advantage, as many defendants may wish to admit guilt simply because they wish to leave jail.
- Probation Violation Arraignment
An arraignment is the first court appearance you will make after the probation officer files the petition to revoke your probation.
At the arraignment, you will either admit that you violated your probation or contest the finding. In many cases, particularly where the violation is obvious and indefensible, it is to the advantage of the defendant to plead guilty.
If you plead guilty, then it is often possible to get a resolution of the charge against you much faster and for your defense attorney to work out a punishment that is mutually agreeable to you and the probation officer.
- Probation Violation Hearing
If you plead not guilty of violating your probation or if a mutually agreeable settlement was not able to be reached with the probation officer, then a probation violation hearing is held.
At the hearing, the prosecution will present evidence to prove that you violated your probation, and your defense attorney will be allowed to present evidence in rebuttal.
If the judge determines there has been no violation, then the probation is reinstated. However, if the judge finds that there has been a violation, then the judge will determine the sanction for the violation at a probation violation disposition hearing.
- Probation Violation Disposition Hearing
At the probation violation disposition hearing, the judge determines the sanction for the violation. The disposition hearing can occur immediately after the probation violation hearing, or the judge may wish to postpone it to a later date.
The judge has a range of options in determining the sanction for a probation violation:
Continuance: This is the most advantageous outcome and means that you will be permitted to simply have the original terms of your probation reinstated.
Modification: More typically, the judge will modify the terms of your probation. The judge may extend the length of the probation or add conditions onto it, such as fines or community service.
One way the judge may modify the probation is by placing the defendant on intensive probation, or IPS. Intensive probation is a much more restrictive form of probation, which is commonly referred to as house arrest.
On intensive probation, a defendant must remain at home at all times except for work and contact a surveillance officer before leaving for work and upon arriving at work. The defendant must again contact the surveillance officer when leaving work and upon returning home. The surveillance officer also makes visits to check in on the defendant must more frequently than for regular probationers and has the authority to demand drug and alcohol tests randomly. The surveillance officer has the authority to enter the defendant’s home without permission or a warrant. If the defendant is not in the home or refuses to submit to a drug or alcohol testing when the surveillance officer visits, then the probation officer may petition to have the defendant’s probation revoked.
Revocation: The most severe penalty for a probation violation is revocation of the probation. When your probation is revoked, you will have to serve out your original sentence in prison.
It is critically important that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible after you have been accused of violating your probation. Even though you may feel pressured to admit the allegations if you have been deemed non-bondable and are in jail, a skilled defense attorney is often able to prevent you from having to remain in jail and can limit the number of new conditions place on your probation. In some cases, it may even be possible to have the original terms of your probation reinstated.
Speak with DM Cantor if you or a loved one has violated probation in Arizona.