In the criminal justice system, being put on probation means that you are being sentenced for disobeying the law but are able to avoid prison time. Essentially, a judge is giving you the opportunity to stay out of trouble and obey the terms of your probation in exchange for avoiding incarceration.
You could be placed on probation for a number of reasons, from shoplifting to a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). However, if you violate the terms of your probation, you could serve the remainder of your sentence behind bars. In order to ensure that your rights are protected and that you do not face jail time, including an extended sentence, you are urged to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at your earliest convenience.
What Are the Basic Conditions of Probation?
If you have been placed on probation, there are a wide range of conditions that you will be expected to follow, including the following:
- Obey the laws of all governmental units.
- Avoid bad habits, like alcohol intoxication, illegal narcotics, or other dangerous drugs unless they are prescribed lawfully by a health care provider.
- Avoid people or places that could cause you to get into trouble.
- Get suitable employment and avoid taking time off other behavior that could jeopardize your job.
- Do not move or relocate to an address that is outside the jurisdiction of the court. Do not leave the state without getting permission from your probation officer.
- If you have legal dependents, make sure that you provide the financial support that is expected of you to the best of your ability.
There may be additional conditions that you will need to follow, depending on the circumstances of your probation, including the following:
- Attend a DUI program or other risk reduction course.
- Attend a defensive driving school.
- Follow a substance abuse treatment program and submit to regular testing.
- Participate in counseling or treatment programs for anger management, violence, sexual deviancy, and other behaviors that would warrant treatment.
- Pay all fines directed by the court or your probation officer.
- If required, complete a certain number of community service hours.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
What Is Considered a Probation Violation?
There are three categories of a probation violation in Georgia, including technical condition violations, which occur when you violated the technical conditions of your probation, special condition violations, which occur when you violate the special conditions of your probation, and substantive violations, which occur when you commit a new crime while you are on probation.
The following are examples of probation violations:
- Failure to attend court appearance: One of the requirements of probation is to appear in court on the assigned dates. If you miss a scheduled court date, this is a probation violation.
- Failure to meet with your probation officer: This is another requirement of your probation. Unless the terms of your probation specifically allow you to be on unsupervised probation, you must report to your probation officer for scheduled meetings. If you fail to report to your probation officer because you violated other terms of the probation, this will only cause problems with your probation officer.
- Failure to pay fines: As part of the terms of your probation, you may be required to pay fines. If you forget or decide not to pay them, this is a violation of your probation. If you are unable to pay the fine due to a financial hardship, a medical issue, or another valid reason, you are urged to request a modification of probation from the sentencing court. Do not avoid reporting to court because you are unable to pay the fine, as this is a much more serious probation violation than an inability to pay fines.
- Not having a job: You are required to remain employed while you are on probation. If you fail to get a job or lose your job, it is a violation of your probation.
- Visiting people or places that are prohibited: There may be certain people or places that you are not allowed to visit during your probation. If you ignore these rules, it is a violation of your probation.
- New arrests: The consequences for being arrested for a new offense will depend on the nature of the new crime that you committed. For example, if you were arrested for a misdemeanor, the consequences will be less serious than if you are arrested for a felony. However, this probation violation has the most serious consequences and almost always results in an arrest for probation violation. While you may be hesitant to report the new arrest to your probation officer, it is highly recommended that you do so because they will find out about it either way.
What Are the Penalties for a Probation Violation?
It is of the utmost importance that you comply with the terms and conditions of your probation. A failure to do so can result in a more serious punishment, including prison time. If you violate the terms of your probation, your probation officer may request that you appear in court for a probation violation hearing. The judge will consider the details of the probation violation, including the type, seriousness and nature of the violation, as well as the penalty proposed by the probation officer, which may include a prison sentence. If you are found guilty of violating your probation, your original probation period may be extended, additional probation terms may be imposed, or the probation may be revoked and you will be ordered to serve time in jail.
In some cases, circumstances that are beyond your control can result in an accidental probation violation. For example, if you are unexpectedly laid off from your job and are unable to make the required restitution payments, your parole could be revoked. Even if your failure to meet the requirement of your parole was accidental, your parole officer has the power to revoke part of your probation. A skilled lawyer can protect your rights and help negotiate the terms of your probation.
The following are possible types of sentences for probation violations:
- County jail: You may be required to serve up to 12 months in a county jail.
- Probation detention center: The court may sentence you to up to six months in a probation detention center. If there is a waiting period for bed space, you may be given credit from the date of the order.
- Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT): This is a probation center that focuses on drug rehabilitation. You will likely be held at the county jail until bed space becomes available.
- Prison: The court may revoke your probation and send you to prison. You will likely be eligible for parole.
- Special conditions: You may be required to comply with other conditions, including a drug treatment program, counseling, and anger management.
What Happens at a Probation Revocation Hearing?
According to due process, you must be given the opportunity to be heard. At the hearing, you have the option of either representing yourself or hiring a lawyer. It is highly recommended that you hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer.
The revocation hearing will be presided over by a judge and a court reporter. The district attorney will present the case, with the help of the probation officer and other witnesses, and argue that there has been a violation of probation. Your defense lawyer will cross examine and may also present witnesses. After both sides have argued their case and closing arguments are made, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to prove that there has been a violation of probation.
If the judge rules that there has been a violation of probation, you will be sentenced. Prior to the sentencing, you may ask to speak, or members of your family or friends may ask to speak on your behalf. Depending on the circumstances, you may waive your right to a hearing and admit that you violated your probation. In probation revocation hearings, you do not have a right to a jury trial, although the state still has the burden of proving that you violated your probation.
Springfield Criminal Defense Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Assist Clients With Probation Violation Issues
If you have been accused of violating your probation, do not hesitate to contact our Springfield criminal defense lawyers at Kicklighter Law. Our skilled legal team will fight to get you the best possible outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients throughout Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.