If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, whether as the result of a plea bargain or conviction at trial, you have likely been required to serve a period of probation. Periods of probation are generally between one and ten years but can be much longer for some serious offenses. In addition to remaining law abiding, probation usually requires someone to comply with certain conditions such as drug testing, community service, or paying restitution and fines. If you have failed to follow all your conditions, you may face a probation violation.
Your probation officer has significant discretion over how to address any violations. For some minor violations, they may simply contact you to make you aware of your mistake and allow you the opportunity to remedy the situation. For more serious violations, they may file a violation report and request a probation violation summons requiring you to appear in court. In the most severe circumstances, your agent may file a violation report and request a probation violation warrant so that you will be arrested and forced to appear in court.
When you appear in court on a probation violation summons, your first appearance is known as an admit/deny hearing. This hearing allows you an opportunity to either admit to the violation or deny that it occurred.
If you admit to the violation, the judge will impose a sanction at the hearing or may schedule a sanction hearing to allow the parties to prepare their arguments. Sanctions can range from an extension of probation and additional community service to revocation of probation and execution of any jail or prison time that has been stayed. If you were sentenced to a stay of adjudication or stay of imposition, you could also lose the benefits of those sentences. Additionally, any probation violations can make it much more difficult to attempt to terminate your probation early down the road.
If you deny the violation, another hearing will be scheduled. At this hearing, the state will bear the burden to prove the violation by clear and convincing evidence. This is a lower standard than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used at the trial court stage. Additionally, the state only needs to prove the violation to the judge. You do not have the right to a jury like you would at the trial court stage. If the state fails to prove the violation, it will be dismissed. If the state proves the violation, you will proceed to the sanction stage.
An experienced criminal defense attorney could assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome on your probation violation. You should not attempt to handle a probation violation on your own, as you could lose the benefit of a plea bargain or end up serving jail or prison time. If you have received, or believe you are about to receive, a probation violation, contact the BK Law Group today.