A Partnership of Professional Associations

McGowan & Clarke

Violation of Probation-Frequently Asked Questions


1. How does a probation violation differ from a regular misdemeanor or felony charge?


Violations of Probation are heard in front of the judge, usually the judge who heard your underlying case. The standard of proof needed to prove that you violated probation is much lower than the beyond the reasonable doubt standard used in your original criminal charge. What this means to you is that it is much easier for the prosecution to prove a probation violation than any other type of criminal case. In cases of probation violation, an experienced defense attorney can speak on your behalf and fight hard to try and minimize the potential consequences against you.


2. How does community control differ from probation?


Community control is a form of intensive supervision in the community, including surveillance on weekends and holidays, conducted by officers with restricted caseloads. Community control is an individualized program in which the freedom of an offender is restricted within the community, home, or non-institutional residential placement and specific limitations are imposed and enforced, including establishing a curfew and with whom you may associate.


3. Does the type of violation have an effect on my punishment?


Usually, a judge will examine and evaluate the severity of the violation to determine a punishment. Technical Violations involve violating general conditions such as reporting to your probation officer, failing to file a monthly report, relocating without notifying your probation officer, and an unclean urinalysis. Substantive violations involve committing additional criminal acts while on probation. The judge will weigh the prosecution and defense arguments, the nature of the violation, the underlying charge, and any evidence of the alleged probation violation to determine whether you violated probation and if so what the appropriate sentence should be.


4. Should I admit to a probation violation?


Under no circumstances should you admit until you have consulted with an attorney. You could be hurting your chances of getting the probation violation charge dropped or dismissed.


5. Can I be held without bond until my probation violation hearing?


Yes. If you've been arrested on a probation violation charge, you are afforded the right to request bond but the court is under no obligation to grant it. You can be held until the time of your hearing if the court chooses to do so and that hearing may not be for several weeks or months. An experienced attorney can help you present a strong argument to allow you to be released on bond or attempt to resolve the case quickly so that you can be released from jail or begin to serve your sentence to get your situation more rapidly resolved.


6. What if a conflict forced me to miss a meeting with my probation officer?


Usually, the court will not acknowledge excuses for missed meetings. Reporting to your probation officer is probably the most important condition of probation, and failing to appear demonstrates a lack of respect for the probation parameters. Certain circumstances may garner court leniency, such as death of a family member or illness. An experienced attorney can help you articulate the circumstances of your violation and put it into terms the court may respond to favorably.