Being sentenced to probation is something of a mixed bag. While it is certainly preferable to prison, it comes with its own set of restrictions. Many people successfully complete their probation without a problem, but that’s not always the case. Being accused of a probation violation can be an incredibly frightening prospect, especially as it can lead to you facing a lengthy prison sentence. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take in order to help ensure that you’re not unfairly punished for something that you did not do.
How Probation Works
Probation is a kind of supervised release granted by the judge that allows an individual who has been convicted of a crime to avoid jail. While you might not have to stay in prison during your probation, this doesn’t mean that you are entirely free. Instead, you’ll be subject to a number of different rules and restrictions that largely depend on your reason for being charged.
If you are placed on parole, you’ll typically have to follow the rules including:
- Maintaining employment or being enrolled in school
- Staying away from known felons
- Being drug tested
- Attending some form of mandated counseling
- Meeting with a parole officer on a regular basis
There are many possible requirements for successfully completing your parole, and failing to satisfy any of them can lead to a parole violation. It’s important to avoid this at all costs, as the punishments for even a minor infraction can be severe.
Remember, probation is absolutely something that is given at the discretion of the court. It can be revoked far more easily than you might think, so your best bet will always be to follow the rules as closely as possible. If you are unable to do so – or if you are accused of being unable to do so – it’s vital to know what to do next.
What Happens if You Violate Parole
Strictly speaking, a parole violation can be triggered by the actions of one of two people. Each of these individuals has a fair bit of discretion to decide whether or not your actions rise to the level of a true violation, how your violation will be handled, and ultimately whether or not to start the process that will lead to your parole being revoked.
The first person who can start the process is your parole officer. If he or she feels like you have violated the conditions of your parole, the parole officer will be left with a choice of whether to warn you about your conduct or whether to initiate a probation violation hearing. Hearings started by parole officers typically stem from violating specific conditions related to your parole, like associating with known felons, failing to complete rehabilitation programs, or failing to check in with your parole officer as mandated by the court.
The other party that can start the process is a prosecutor. Prosecutors typically call for parole violation hearings when an individual has been arrested for another crime. Note that it’s not important that you be convicted of this new crime for you the hearing to be called – simply being arrested can be enough to get the ball rolling.
If either the parole officer or prosecutor feels that you have significantly violated your parole, you will go to a parole violation hearing. There is no jury here, just you, your counsel, and the prosecution. The prosecution will present the case that you have violated your parole, and you’ll be allowed to make your arguments as to why you have not violated those conditions.
Once the hearing is over, the judge will render a judgment. The judge has a fair bit of discretion here. He or she might give you a warning, add new stipulations to your parole, or even send you to jail. The exact outcome will largely depend on both the nature of your violation and the disposition of the judge.
What to Do if You Are Accused
The clock starts ticking fairly rapidly if you are accused of violating parole, so there are some steps that you’ll want to take as quickly as possible. The first and most important action will always be to find out why a parole violation hearing has been called. You’ll want to understand whether this is simply due to a technical issue, due to something that you’ve actively done, or due to a mistake. The more information you have, the better.
Your next step should be to talk to your defense attorney. You can work with the same attorney who defended you in your initial hearing or with a new attorney, but you’ll want someone’s legal help. A good lawyer will be there to defend your side of the case and help you to figure out what kind of evidence might be presented in your favor.
This should go without showing, but it’s also important to make sure that you attend your probation violation hearing. If you or your attorney are not there to provide evidence or to argue your case, it will be much easier for the prosecution to make the argument that your probation should be revoked. If you’re not willing to put in the effort to help yourself, you shouldn’t expect a good outcome.
Understanding How to Protect Your Future
If you have been accused of violating your probation, it’s important that you follow the correct steps. More than anything, though, it’s important that you don’t try to deal with this kind of problem on your own. Whether you’ve knowingly violated your probation or you feel that you have been unfairly accused of doing so, you need to work with an attorney who understands your rights. Don’t let yourself be punished unfairly – make sure to contact an attorney today to get the help that you deserve.
Call our team today (954) 840-8713 to learn more about how we can protect your rights.