So one of the things I get asked all the time is, “What should I expect to have happen at a probation violation hearing?” Maybe you or a loved one of yours was told either by a probation officer or police officer that you should expect to have a probation violation hearing.
What Is Probation
So to start let’s just remind you about what probation is. Probation is when a judge has decided that instead of sentencing you to prison in a felony case or a long jail sentence in a misdemeanor case, you’re going to be allowed to remain in the community. Either do a lot less jail time than you would ordinarily do or do no jail time at all, and in exchange, you’re going to fulfill certain terms and conditions.
Example Conditions of Probation
You’re going to do community service, for instance, or Caltrans service. Maybe you’re going to attend counseling sessions or do drug treatment. Things like that. You’re also going to – if you are on felony probation – be checking in with the probation department on a regular basis, and you’re going to promise to obey all the laws and not commit any new offenses or be accused of committing new offenses.
Probation Violation Hearing
So if something has come up where you had been told “Now you have to do a probation violation hearing,” you’re going to go before a judge, and when you’re in front of that judge, it should be the same judge who sentenced you in the initial case. That judge is going to have a whole range of options. The judge can do anything from deciding that actually, no, you really didn’t violate your probation, and there’s no problem here, and you’re free to go; all the way to deciding they’re done with you. You’re off probation. Now you’re being sentenced just like you would have been originally if you’d never been given probation in the first case.
But in between those things there’s a whole range of options too. A judge can do something that’s sort of like a formal slap on the wrist called a “revoke and reinstate” with the judge says, “You violated your probation. I’m revoking your probation, but now I’m going to reinstate your probation. I’m going to put you back on probation under the exact same terms and conditions.”
A judge can say “Ok. You’ve had two years to get your community service done. You’re on a three-year probation sentence. You haven’t done any of it. Now, I’m going to make you do the community service, and I’m going to keep you on probation for a longer period of time.” For an extra year say. Then your probation is longer.
Why do you need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
What might actually happen to you or your loved one in your particular situation is too complicated. It varies on a bunch of different factors. Everything
- from the personality of the judge,
- to your history with the probation department,
- have you been successful before?
- do you have a prior record?
All those things will come into play, and it’s just too difficult to figure out what you should expect in your situation by looking things up on the Internet, by watching videos on the internet. You really do need to have a consultation with a qualified criminal defense attorney to help give you a sense of what to expect.
Now at my office we are very experienced in handling probation violation matters, and we always offer free consultations, so you’re welcome to give us a call. And hopefully, we can give you a sense of what to expect at a probation violation hearing.