Your eligibility for bail on a probation violation depends on the type of probation you are under. Penal Code Section 1272(1) allows you to post bail if you are on misdemeanor probation. The bail amount will be based on a bail schedule already fixed by the county.
However, the presiding judge may adjust the bail amount depending on your circumstances. For example, you could be released while waiting for the outcome of your hearing if your probation violation lawyer presents enough mitigating factors. Learn more about probation violations and when you may be able to get out on bail.
What Does Probation Entail?
Probation is one type of sentence that the state of California imposes in place of, or in addition to, jail time. Being placed on probation means that your prison sentence has been suspended. Your sentence will remain suspended as long as you fulfill several stipulations, otherwise known as probation terms.
Probation terms typically include provisions like:
- Paying fines
- Serving a shorter jail sentence
- Attending mandated classes (e.g., AA, DUI)
- Not violating laws or registering with local authorities (e.g., as a drug offender, gang member, etc.)
However, failure to follow the terms will result in a violation of your probation. Based on the type of violation—if it is technical or substantive—you could be in danger of being arrested and serving your original sentence. What is more, if the violation is considered substantive, you might face new criminal charges.
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What if I Violate Probation for a Felony?
Your situation is a bit more complicated if you are on felony probation. According to Penal Code Section 1272(3), the court is not obligated to grant you bail. Instead, your lawyer must convince the court why you should be given bail and not be taken into custody while waiting for your probation violation hearing.
Your lawyer will present the court with enough mitigating factors and prove your character’s integrity. This means your criminal lawyer would have to:
- Show your ties to the community,
- Give reasons why you are not a flight risk, or
- Prove that you have a stable job and are not a danger to society.
It should be pointed out that if you have only been accused of violating your Prop 36 probation, you should be granted bail even if you are on felony probation. However, this can change if the district attorney (DA) can prove that you are a danger to the community or pose a flight risk.
What Happens if I am Accused of Violating Probation?
If you are accused of violating your probation, you can be arrested based on the information provided by the DA or your probation officer. The court can release an arrest warrant, or you can be ordered to make an appearance on a specific date for a probation violation hearing.
Several things will occur during your initial appearance in court:
- The prosecutor will show the court details about the claimed violations;
- The judge will ask where you stand on the allegations (Do you admit or deny it?);
- The presiding judge will decide whether you will be given bail until the date of the probation hearing;
- A date for the probation violation hearing will be scheduled;
- The judge will immediately cancel your probation. The terms of your probation are still in effect, but the clock on your probation period will be on hold.
The initial court appearance is vital since key decisions have to be made. Your freedom will also be on the table, especially since you do not have an automatic right to bail in these cases.
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What Constitutes a Probation Violation?
Probation is a conditional release from incarceration that can have many conditions in place that must be met. If a violation of one of these conditions occurs, it can land you back in custody. When you are given probation, the terms and conditions will be explained. Even so, it can still be possible to violate your probation inadvertently.
Violations can include your failure to:
- Pay fees and fines, where applicable
- Be present at hearings or in court
- Become and remain gainfully employed
- Avoid certain people and areas
Violations can also include being accused of committing a crime, not complying with court-ordered community service, owning or possessing contraband, and non-attendance at substance abuse support meetings. Leaving the state or violating an Order of Protection can also be probation violations.
This list is not exhaustive, and your probation can have additional conditions specific to your case. Your criminal defense attorney will explain the specific action or actions that led to your being charged with probation violation and the consequences that may result.
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What Can the Judge Do in a Probation Violation Case?
During a probation violation hearing, the judge will determine if a violation has occurred. In cases when probation has been violated, the judge has three options:
- Reinstate your probation using the same terms
- Amend probation terms and make them stricter
- Nullify your probation sentence and send you to prison
Probation violation hearings are distinct because they are held before a judge only, and the standard of proof is much lower. The hearing procedure involves fewer protections and due process.
The prosecution can utilize hearsay evidence, and proof does not need to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the prosecution must only show a “preponderance of the evidence.”
What if I Did Not Violate the Terms of My Probation?
You have the right to defend yourself if you are accused of violating your probation. Your lawyer will first try to keep you out of jail when you are accused of a probation violation. You can then admit or deny the accusations made against you and present evidence at your probation hearing.
Preparing your case, gathering evidence, and going to court can be daunting without legal support. The attorney who represents you can help you prove the alleged violation did not occur by:
- Collecting supporting evidence
- Locating and interviewing witnesses
Your lawyer would review the details and circumstances of your arrest if one took place, including searching for probable cause or its absence. They will also review the details and conditions of your probation and your alleged violation when building your defense.
Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for a Probation Violation?
Yes. During your probation hearing, you need to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Bear in mind that the consequences of having been proven to have violated probation are quite severe. A simple accusation of a probation violation can potentially send you to jail.
If your probation is revoked, you can be faced with serving the entire sentence for the original offense. For instance, say you were facing five years imprisonment for a felony conviction but were given three years felony probation. If it was proven that you violated the terms of your probation after one year, you could still be made to serve your original sentence.
The time you served during probation does not give you any credit for reducing your previous sentence. What is more, the judge can put stricter conditions in place.
How Much Are Probation Fees in California?
Probation typically comes with hefty legal fees, but several counties in California are discontinuing criminal justice fees. For example, Los Angeles County has eliminated collecting criminal fees, including:
- $155 monthly charge for probation supervision
- $769 for a pre-sentence report
- $50 for alcohol testing
The purpose of waiving these fees is to reduce the financial burden on former inmates. But unfortunately, these legal fees have made it difficult for people to contribute to society while on probation. Your lawyer can help you determine what fees you may have to pay in your case.
Will the Terms of My Probation Change if it Has Been Violated?
If you are found to be in violation of your probation, the terms may not necessarily change. The judge who oversees your case has the authority to decide whether to modify the terms of your probation, keep them the same, or revoke your probation.
If you were in violation of your probation but you are in compliance by the time of your hearing, you have a better chance of keeping your terms the same. However, proving compliance can be complicated and require evidence and supporting testimony. Your lawyer will help you compile evidence proving you are in compliance at your hearing.
Do I Have Any Rights as a Probationer in California?
Just as you have rights in your original arrest, you also have rights as a probationer. Your rights are important, and they must be complied with. In California, you are entitled to the following:
- To have an attorney, even if you cannot afford one
- To receive written notice of all alleged violations
- To know any evidence the state has
- To have the opportunity to tell your version of events
- To have the opportunity to present supportive witnesses
- To have the opportunity to hear from any witnesses against you
If your rights were violated in any way, be sure to review them with a member of your legal team. Any violation of your rights can be used as leverage in your upcoming case.
Can a Probation Violation Be Dismissed in California?
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to get a probation violation dismissed. For example, if a probation violation accusation is filed too late, the statute of limitations may have expired. In addition, if you were in violation of probation but made corrections to comply, your violation may be resolved without disciplinary action.
Violating your probation terms in California can have serious and far-reaching consequences for you. Therefore, it is never a good idea to take this issue lightly. If you violated probation or are accused of doing so, you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
A reliable and experienced probation violation attorney may offer to review your case for free. Your lawyer will assist you in taking the right steps to ensure you receive a fair hearing and hopefully retain your probation sentence.
Discuss Your Probation Violation Charge with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a probation violation in California, you do not have to fight to maintain your freedom on your own. Our criminal defense lawyers will help you navigate the probation and court systems, build a solid defense, and explore the possibility of being released on bail.
When you are ready to fight back, contact Simmrin Law Group to get started.