For many people, even if probation is the preferred alternative to incarceration, it’s still a challenging experience. There are a lot of social and financial benefits to serving probation instead of jail time, but you have to keep in mind that you’re not quite out of the woods yet. There are some key factors to pay attention to in order to protect your rights and freedoms, and that includes understanding the implications of probation violations.
What Exactly is Probation?
In a nutshell, probation is a court-ordered at-liberty supervision of your life and actions for a period of time, an alternative to going to jail. After sentencing, individuals can continue to live and work in their community as long as they continue to adhere to the specific terms and conditions set forth by the judge. Standard probation conditions include paying monthly probation fees, monthly reporting to your probation officer, no firearms, no illegal drugs, obeying all laws, and a diminishment of your privacy rights with such things as searches and drug testing. Special probation conditions are tailored to your specific case and can include things like maintaining employment, attending counseling or treatment programs, performing community services, paying fines, etc. In some cases, there are also restrictions on where you can travel, who you hang out or associate with.
These restrictions and conditions can have a major impact on someone’s life. Certain conditions can wind up contradicting each other and lead to probation violations. For example, if you’re restricted to staying in one county, but your job is two counties away, how can you stay consistently employed and pay your bills? This is why it’s so important to work with an attorney who can negotiate with the court during sentencing and look out for your best interests.
Potential Consequences for Probation Violations
There are many factors that play into the exact consequences of violating the conditions of probation. Factors like the nature of the original offense, the nature of the violation, and whether the violation was intentional or not will influence the outcome. This can potentially result in your immediate arrest or the issuance of an arrest warrant. This will further complicate your case, and you may find yourself back in court for sentencing. If the court finds you in violation, you can face penalties like additional probation time, conditions, restrictions, fines, and even incarceration.
After the arrest there will be a revocation hearing. This is a court hearing where a judge will determine if a violation has actually occurred and will consider a new sentence. WARNING: At a violation of probation hearing, the State need not prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt, only to the conscience of the court. DOUBLE WARNING: The judge can sentence a the violator to the maximum sentence he could have imposed in the original case! If you haven’t been consulting your attorney up to this point, it’s seriously time to call. Not only can your attorney help you understand the terms of your probation and help you avoid these situations, they can also continue to work on your behalf and improve your chances of a positive outcome.
The Importance of an Attorney
Everyone has the right to an attorney, and it’s for good reason. Your attorney wants to help you stay out of the legal system and continue living a happy and productive life. They are there to look out for your best interests. After conviction, people tend to feel helpless and like they don’t have a chance to improve their lives from that point, but you are not defined by your mistakes or allegations made against you. From the moment of the initial arrest until you’re free and clear, a good attorney will fight for your rights and empower you to take control of your future.
Don’t leave probation conditions up to interpretation. Find an attorney who will guide you on meeting the conditions of your probation and address any concerns you may have. Even if you’ve already been convicted, there are ways to potentially minimize a sentence or clear up misunderstandings during revocation hearings. If you’re in need of an attorney who will fight for you and advocate on your behalf, don’t wait until the last minute, call 904-285-4529 today.