- Aug 20, 2012
Probation is an opportunity to do penance for your crime without spending time in jail. Perhaps you skipped a jail sentence completely or you were released early and put on probation. The goal during probation is to watch your step and keep your nose clean, but unfortunately, that might be easier said than done. Probation often involves an intricate set of rules that must be followed to the letter and if broken, can result in an increase in the severity of the initial punishment for your crime. Probation: Can be all or part of your criminal sentence Usually requires check-ins or meetings with a probation officer Is often the sentence given for misdemeanors or to first-time offenders Might have activity requirements, such as anger management or substance abuse counseling Can last up to five years or longer, but shorter periods are typically the norm Sometimes requires the wearing of a monitoring device, so you can be located at all times Might be more likely in areas where jail overcrowding is an issue Have You Violated Your Probation? There are many different ways to violate probation, which is why it is important to understand the details of your sentence. If you are concerned that an activity might be in violation, check with your probation officer or your attorney. Violating probation is a crime, so you need to carefully monitor your behavior. You might violate your probation if you: Fail to complete court-ordered counseling or community service Fail to appear for scheduled hearings Fail to pay fines or restitution payments Fail to report to your probation officer Fail to follow the restrictions of a restraining order Fail to maintain employment Fail to stay within an assigned geographical location Use or distribute illegal substances (you might be required to undergo periodic drug testing) Are arrested for an unrelated crime What Happens if I Violate Probation? If you are guilty of a probation violation, the penalties can be stiff. Courts often view probation as an opportunity for the guilty party to “get his or her act together” and correct a mistake. If a person fails to do so, the consequences can be harsh. Sometimes, a minor violation warrants only a warning from your probation officer. For instance, if you fail to check in one evening, your PO can use discretion and merely let you know you slipped up. This is usually done only once or twice throughout probation and only in instances where the violation is not serious. If there are repeated violations, your violation puts someone at risk, or your violation is serious, you will likely be reported to the court. If this occurs, you will be required to appear in court for a probation violation hearing. Penalties for violating probation include fines, increased probation terms, or a jail sentence. Though it is possible to be found not guilty of violating your probation during the hearing, it is not worth the risk of potential jail time or other penalties. If you have been accused of committing a crime or violating probation, you need to contact an attorney immediately. The experienced lawyers at Anderson, O’Sullivan and Associates will help you navigate the judicial system and make choices that are right for your circumstances.