How a Probation Violation Can Impact Sentencing

In this guide, we aim to discuss what probation is and how a probation violation can affect your sentencing. 

Probation Violation

Did you know that there are approximately 3 million people on probation at any given moment?

Probation is a chance for criminals to prove they can behave and participate in society once more. It’s often the first time they have seen the light of day as a free person in years. But all it takes is one probation violation to affect that freedom.

Violating probation is no small matter. At best, it can hamper your chances of finishing probation. At worst, it could result in more severe penalties that put you in prison for longer.

In this guide, we aim to discuss what probation is and how a probation violation can affect your sentencing.

Read More: When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

What Is Probation?

Probation is when the courts decide to allow a criminal to forgo their prison sentence or live the rest of it outside prison. Probation applies to criminals of more serious crimes, typically felonies. In most cases, probation happens when the courts observe good behavior and allow the criminal a chance to live a normal life.

When on probation, a criminal can rent a home, hold a job, and live their life as they normally would. However, they are not off the hook just yet. There are restrictions on what they can do, violation of which can lead to probation revocation.

This goes beyond just abstaining from criminal activity. If their case involves scheduled substances, they cannot consume these well on probation. They must attend all of their court hearings on time and any therapy or counseling sessions.

Further, they do not have permission to leave their state or county. Doing so without approval could also result in a revoked probation. This is, of course, to prevent them from becoming a fugitive that goes into hiding.

One of the most important things that someone must do is visit their probation officer if their probation is supervised. These are regular visits to discuss how life is going. The officer ensures that the person is adhering to the rules of their felony probation.

Felons should seek legal advice if they run into issues with their probation. Find more information here:

Parole Vs. Probation

Do not mistake parole for probation. With probation, a criminal sentence is still in effect. They’re simply living out the rest of their sentence beyond the walls of the prison.

Parole, on the other hand, is an early release from prison. There are still conditions that apply to those on parole, but it has a different legal definition from probation.

Read More: 4 Ways to Automate Your Local Criminal Justice Agency

Types of Probation

There are several types of probation. The most common are supervised and unsupervised probation. Each convicted will usually get only one type of probation.

Unsupervised Probation

This is the most common type of felony probation. In this case, there is no probation officer. These are usually for cases where the person is a first-time offender.

During unsupervised probation, the rules are much more flexible. The felon does not usually have any special conditions that they have to obey. However, they do still have to pay any fines and attend any court dates.

Unsupervised probation tends to be very short. The maximum is about 18 months.

Supervised Probation

For repeat offenders and anyone who has committed a very serious crime, they will usually receive supervised probation. Here, they must meet special conditions to continue their probation. They must meet on a regular basis with their officer and attend any and all required activities.

In some cases, the offender may have to wear a monitoring device. This keeps track of their location and will signal a manhunt if the offender takes it off.

Community Control Probation

In only the most severe cases is community control probation needed. In this case, the offender must wear the ankle bracelet at all times. Officers will keep close track of their location, though they are allowed to live their life as they wish.

What Is a Probation Violation?

A probation violation is quite simple. The convicted fails to do one or several of the following:

  • they do not meet with their probation officer
  • they do not attend any required meetings
  • they consume illegal substances (if their crime was substance-related)
  • they remove any tracking device
  • they commit a crime while on probation

A felon should admit to violating probation to avoid more severe penalties. Delaying meetings with their probation officer, for example, could get them in big trouble.

How Does a Probation Violation Impact Your Sentencing?

In most cases, the judge will cancel probation once the offender violates it. They will return to continue their sentence of living in incarceration. After probation revocation, it is much harder to get a second probation.

A judge will issue a warrant for your arrest if your probation officer believes you are in violation. It is typically very easy and quick to prove a probation violation.

What Consequences and Penalties Are There for Probation Violation?

However, the judge may not immediately cancel your probation. There are other options depending on your case. They can modify your probation or reinstate it.

Sometimes, people violate probation simply because they are unable to keep up with the requirements. For example, they miss a visit with their probation officer because a family member was in the hospital. In other cases, they mistakenly violated probation, and the judge feels they deserve a second chance.

Other times, the judge will modify the terms of probation. If they feel that this was a willful violation and the offender needs to suffer the consequences, then they will reissue a stricter probation. For example, the offender may now need to wear an ankle bracelet.

In the event that the offender commits a crime during probation, they will have to go to court again. The judge may extend their sentence in addition to the above.

Whatever the case, if you violate probation, you should seek out the help of a lawyer. These are tricky legal waters, and only lawyers and attorneys can navigate them effectively.

See a Lawyer If You Violate Probation

A probation violation occurs when somebody breaks the terms of their probation sentence. Make sure to follow the rules to the letter if you are on probation. If you do break it, there is a small chance that the judge may modify or reinstate it.

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