Probation Violations

When a defendant is given a probationary sentence, he is usually given a laundry list of conditions he must abide by in order to remain eligible for that probationary sentence and avoid jail time. Typically a defendant is required to pay a fine or do some community service, perhaps attend some court-ordered classes or abide by a protective order, pay restitution and to periodically report his progress to the court. The most common condition of probation that when violated triggers a probation revocation hearing is the provision requiring the defendant to “obey all laws”. When a probationer is arrested for a different crime while on probation, this almost always triggers a probation revocation hearing which can be heard concurrently with the trial on the new charges.

Unfortunately for the probationer, probation revocation proceedings are decided by the judge alone, not a jury. Additionally, a judge may find a probation violation based on the much more permissive standard of “a preponderance of the evidence”. The effect this has is that in the event a probation violation and a trial on new charges are heard concurrently, a jury might acquit a defendant on the new charges yet a judge might conclude that probation was indeed violated based on the same facts.

The good news for the probationer is that a probation violation in and of itself is not a new charge. It merely offers the court an opportunity to revoke the probationary sentence and impose up to the maximum jail term allowed for the crime that the probationer was convicted of. In many cases a skilled defense attorney can convince the court to reinstate probation with little to no alteration of the terms of probation.

If you are facing a probation revocation hearing you can anticipate a full evidentiary hearing akin to a bench trial. Under these circumstances it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that evidence used against you is challenged.

The information contained on this website represents opinion only and is not intended to, nor should be relied on as legal advice of any kind. Should you wish to consult with an attorney, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Jesse Terrell at (323) 638-4712.
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