When you are found guilty of an offense, you face potential punishments that include a fine and imprisonment. However, courts also can impose a probation sentence instead of, or additionally to, fines and jail or prison time. Once the court orders you to serve probation, it essentially approves to let you serve your punishment while remaining within the community but only under strict rules you want to obey. A probation breach can occur whenever you violate any of the imposed terms.
What are the consequences of violating probation terms? Can you be imprisoned for a breach of the terms of probation? What are the defenses available to you? Through this article, you will get the answer to every single question.
What is probation?
Probation is a sanction that the court has awarded. An accused is put on this when they have been found guilty of committing a criminal offense. Probation allows a person to stay in their community as long as an officeholder supervises them.
Practically, this does not happen for every single offense, and some offenders go to jail or prison without ever having the option of probation on the table.
Standard terms and conditions of probation include-
- Not possessing a firearm of any kind;
- Securing and keeping gainful employment;
- Attending school;
- Adhering to a curfew;
- Remaining at a specific residence;
- Not traveling out of state;
- No contact with past associates;
- No use or possession of liquor;
- Wearing an electronic tag or monitor;
- Alcohol or drug testing;
- Alcohol or psychological treatment; and
- Community service.
Types of probation violations
Often people violate the probation rules, despite a defendant’s best intentions and efforts. It is due in part to the number of orders placed on a defendant when on probation, and judges set the terms and rules of probation at sentencing.
A probation violation occurs when a probationer does not comply with the terms of probation. Most states differentiate between rule violations (technical violations) and new offense violations (substantive violations).
A probationer commits a technical violation by defying the supervision rules. When there is a breach in the terms and conditions of the probations, it is not grave enough to be an offense.
Examples of technical violations include-
- Willfully failing to pay fines and restitution
- Skipping court-ordered counseling or community service
- Leaving the state without permission
- You are not able to find or attend school because of an arrest record
- Loss of employment due to layoffs;
- Unknowingly befriending someone with a criminal record;
- Being unaware of friends or relations who possess weapons in your presence
Substantive infringement of probation occurs when probationers commit new offenses while on probation. For example, a person gets arrested for theft while on probation for destruction. If the court convicts him of a theft, he will be punished for the theft and for violating his vandalism probation by committing theft.
Consequences of violation of probation
As discussed, every breach of probation rules is not intentional nor equal in terms of harm done, the threat posed to society, etc. In many examples, the violations are more a matter of vagueness, a component of the probationer, rather than being malicious.
Still, courts and probation officers have better reasons to take breaches and repeated violations more seriously. The consequences for disobeying the probation rules depend on many factors, such as:
- the number of prior violations,
- the nature of the violation, and
- the seriousness of the underlying offense.
Unquestionably, a person can go to prison for a probation violation in the USA. It is a real possibility and should not be taken lightly by any probationer, whether or not they are serving a summary or formal probation sentence.
If the court finds that the principles of probation have occurred, the judge decides whether to:
Reinstate (continue) probation with or without modifications. It is upon the discretion of the judge whether or not you have to serve out the remainder of your sentence, can order additional restrictions on you, or not take any action.
For example, on probation, if a defendant failed to participate in community service for such an infraction, the defendant can give a proper explanation with a piece of solid evidence. The justice may pass an order for reinstatement of probation if he is satisfied with the defendant’s defense.
Revoke (terminate) probation and order the individual to serve the suspended sentence.
For example, The defendant faced 15 months of jail time, and the court granted probation to him. The court might view sufficiently severe violation(s) of the probation rules as grounds for sentencing the probationer to those 15 months of jail time.
In a few cases, the judge may see fit to issue the maximum sentence allowable. It typically follows an enormous felony and egregious violation of the defendant’s probation terms.
A revocation hearing is analogous to a hearing of a criminal offense, though there are significant differences.
A hearing during which the judge will hear the evidence about any alleged violation could also be a right of the probationers. The probationer possesses the right to be represented by an attorney and present evidence and witnesses at the revocation hearing. If the court discovers that the probationer has breached any probation conditions, it will determine whether to revoke or impose other penalties.
It is necessary to know what it means to get your probation reinstated. Getting your probation reinstated means you have breached your probation in some way and now looking to stay on probation after receiving your charge rather than going back to jail.
Defenses from getting probation revoked
Deny that you violated your probation terms-
The first defense strategy is to say that the violation did not happen. You did not violate your probation. For example, maybe you were ordered to participate in community service, and you did it. But, somewhere along the way, the office holder was not notified that you participated in community service, or the officer received the notice, which was not entered into the system. That will cause a move for the revocation of probation.
Give a reasonable explanation for the violation of probation terms-
The second defense strategy is to accept that you violated the probation, but with honest justification. As an example, maybe your officeholder told you to specialize in completing your DWI classes before you did your community service. While doing that, a new probation officer assisted you with a different viewpoint. He finds that you have not done your community service and filed a motion to revoke your probation.
Give reasons why you should not get imprisoned-
It results in an important principle: We must always present information that provides the judge or the prosecuting attorney grounds to keep you out of jail. It is often necessary in every probation violation case, from the beginning of the trial to any final hearing in front of the court.
Going to jail after violating probation terms is undoubtedly a possibility. There are often two kinds of violations – technical and substantive. Violation of probation would lead your officeholder to file for the revocation of your probation term. If a judge held a revocation hearing, he would determine whether you willfully violated the principles of probation and whether a greater weight of the evidence proves it. It is often a lower standard than at a normal criminal trial and slightly lesser than beyond a doubt.
Though courts can also decide to change the defendant’s violation terms or to increase their duration, there is no guarantee a judge will take that route. It highlights that having an experienced legal counsel advocating on your behalf is essential.
Can you violate probation and not go to jail?
Yes, if you have been cooperative with courts, are a model prisoner while incarcerated, are largely compliant with a probation order, and it is your first administrative infraction, you can avoid getting imprisoned.
Also, if you provide a reasonable explanation with supporting evidence to your probation officer, you can continue your probation period without further escalation.
Can a probation violation be dismissed?
Yes, in situations where a violation has not taken place in any case or in situations where you committed a minor administrative infraction for which you have made good with your overseeing officer.
Do you go to jail for violating any provision of probation automatically?
No, but if the court found that you violated the probation terms and conditions imposed by the court, depending upon the allegations against you, the administration will seek to revoke your probation and return you to prison.
What happens if you violate probation frequently?
By disobeying probation orders or parole orders quite frequently, you increase the likelihood that your supervisory officer will instigate proceedings to get your probation revoked.