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What Happens If You Violate Probation?
Penalties & Consecquences

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In some situations, a person may enter a guilty plea in exchange for probation to avoid going to jail or prison. However, severe penalties may apply if the conditions of probation are violated.

Over the years as a criminal defense lawyer, I had experienced several cases when probation violations occurred, resulting in the offender's incarceration. 

But before that happens, there are a series of other measures that the probation officer takes to ensure that the offender complies with court orders.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • There are different penalties for probation violation, depending on whether it’s been broken more than just once.
  • A probation violation may be caused by something as simple as forgetting to pay a fine or skipping an appointment.
  • The severity of your offense is one of the factors that will determine the type of penalties you will receive.

What Is Probation?

Probation is a criminal sentence imposed by a court that, subject to specified conditions and restrictions, releases a criminal defendant from their conviction into the community rather than locking them up in jail or prison [1].

8 Common Probation Violations

Close up shot of a prisoner's handcuffs

You commit a probation violation when you stop adhering to the probation's rules, requirements, and restrictions.

The following behaviors could result in a probation violation:

  1. Missing a probation officer appointment. If you are on supervised probation, you will need to meet with your probation officer on a regular basis. If you fail to show up for an appointment, this is considered a breach of probation and could send you back onto the offenders' register for a second time.
  2. Missing a hearing in court. After a predetermined amount of time, the judge may decide to review your progress by ordering you to appear at a probation violation hearing. It would be negligent of you to skip the court hearing appearance.
  3.  Not making restitution or fine payments. The judge may order you to pay fines or make restitution to the victim depending on the crime for which you are found guilty.
  4. Not completing community service. If a probation term states that you must complete or serve your probation to community service, you will have a set number of hours to serve. If you fail to complete them, your probation is violated.
  5. Meeting with individuals who had connections to previous crimes. Your probation requires you to avoid certain people or places associated with gangs or criminal activity. 
  6. Being unemployed. You might need to get a job or enroll in school as part of your probation. 
  7. Committing a different offense. You cannot commit another offense while on probation, which is a basic requirement. A probation violation may even include minor violations such as a traffic infraction.
  8. Leaving the country without informing your probation officer. Once you are placed on probation, you need to inform your probation officer of your change of address and destination to ensure that you can reach your probation officers, or else you will be violating probation.

"If you've been charged with a crime, there's a good chance that you'll be granted probation.
- Douglas Herring, Criminal Defense Attorney 

What Happens if You Violate Probation?

A lawyer crossing fingers on a table with a gavel

If you violate probation, you may receive a warning or even be sentenced to prison. The decision is made based on several elements, including the gravity of your violation, whether you have previously broken probation, and the specifics of the violation.

First Time Violation

Generally speaking, what happens after the first probation violation will depend on your jurisdiction, your probation officer, and whether you have previously overstepped the bounds of your probation. 

However, when there has been a violation, most probation officers will follow some general guidelines.

  1. A warning will be given to you. There's a good chance you'll receive a warning if your probation violation was considered minor or just a mistake. 
  2. You'll be asked to go to court. If your probation officer asks you to appear in court for hearings such as probation revocation hearings, you must show up, or else you may face a stricter penalty or jail time.
  3. The court will hear your argument. You will be granted an opportunity to plead your case in court. Your criminal defense lawyers can take this time to explain why you chose to violate your probation for the first time for you to be found guilty with reasonable doubt. The prosecuting attorney must present evidence that the violation occurred at the revocation hearing.
  4. You'll receive a sentence from a judge. The judge will consider several factors. You may be sentenced to an extension if you violate probation for the first time. A judge might order you to perform more community service hours when the offense is considered minor. 

 Consequences Of Violating Probation More Than Once

Close up shot of a lawyer holding a gavel

The judge's decision may change based on your circumstances. However, in general, the judge may:

  • Add new conditions to your probation.
  • Increase your probation period.
  • Revoke your probation and order you to transfer to prison to serve the remainder of your prison sentence.

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FAQs

How long is probation held in California?

Probation in California is held for 3-5 years because the person on probation did not report a change of address or did not provide timely proof of completing court-ordered treatment.

How long does it take to issue a warrant for probation violation in Florida?

It takes 24 hours to issue a warrant for a probation violation in Florida.

What are the penalties for violating probation?

Penalties for violating probations include imprisonment, a fine, and a jail sentence (mandatory). The court may also impose community service. 

What happens right after I violate my probation?

What happens right after you violate your probation will depend on your probation officer's discretion once they are informed of your violation. You might receive a warning from them or be required to appear at a probation violation hearing.

What happens at a probation violation hearing?

At a probation violation hearing, you will be shown evidence against you that demonstrates you broke the terms of your probation. You have the chance to challenge the evidence or offer additional proof. Having a defense attorney by your side will help you obtain the best result possible if you attend a hearing.

Did You Violate Your Probation?

Sometimes, you might find yourself wondering whether you violated your probation. If you believe you did so, discussing your situation with a law firm is important. 

Through a free consultation, you can discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney from our legal team specializing in this type of law.

We have represented many defendants facing these types of criminal charges and thoroughly understand how it works.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/probation 

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