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Navigating Probation Violations

Probation violations are difficult to defend and often carry significant penalties. Someone charged with a criminal offense who accepts a plea of probation must do a lot of soul searching to determine whether a probation sentence is realistic. Many times prosecutors will offer probation as a “lay away plan.” They know you will violate. It is a question of when.

When you are on probation you are required to report on a monthly basis to a probation officer. You will likely be drug tested at some point during your supervision. Testing positive for drugs, even marijuana, can subject you to the maximum sentence that you faced on the original crime you are on probation for. You cannot go back and argue the original case against you. In a violation hearing, the state only has to prove the violation.

For example, if you were charged with grand theft auto, the maximum sentence is five years. You may have been able to argue that you didn’t know the car was stolen when you drove it. If you accept probation and test positive for marijuana, the only thing the state has to prove is that you tested positive for marijuana. They don’t have to worry about going back and proving that you knew the car was stolen.

Violations can be for many things, not just testing positive for drugs. If you move without permission, leaving the county, failing to pay restitution, failing to fulfill conditions of your plea, such as community service or counseling, can all be grounds for a probation violation. Many people violate by picking up a new criminal offense. A traffic ticket will not violate you, but some traffic offenses, as small as driving without a license, can expose a person to a significant amount of jail time on a probation violation.

In a probation violation, all of the rights that you had in your criminal case are gone. You likely will be held no bond. You do not have the right to a jury trial. The judge will decide whether or not you are in violation. You do not have a speedy trial right. You can be held in custody for as long as the judge wants to hold you until they are ready to do your hearing. The State can not violate you solely on hearsay, but hearsay, what someone else said to another person, is admissible in your hearing.

In a probation violation hearing your need an experienced lawyer to know the technical elements of what needs to be established in a probation violation hearing. Teresa Williams is an extremely good negotiator and has a proven track record of holding the state to each and every element that they must prove to violate your probation.

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