Violating the terms of your probation can get you in serious trouble. Probation is usually given as an expression of leniency toward the person convicted of a crime. Sometimes, probation replaces jail time as a punishment. But if you violate its terms, serious jail time can be a result, including even more time than your initial sentence.
California gives judges plenty of wiggle room in determining how to deal with probation violations. Some general consequences you could face for violating your probation include an extended probationary period, new regulations, probation revocation, and reinstatement of your original jail sentence – or even lengthened to the maximum sentence.
Lengthening of the Probationary Period
Hypothetically, if you have been put on probation for two years, have already served one and a half of those years, and are caught in violation of the terms of that probationary arrangement, the judge can decide to reinstate your probation on the same terms.
This means that you could end up facing another two years of probation under the same rules as opposed to the half a year you would have been facing if you had not violated your probation.
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Revoking Probation and Imposing the Original Jail Sentence
Judges can choose to cancel your probation and instead give you the original jail sentence you were handed as a result of your initial conviction. For example, if you were convicted of a crime and given a one-year jail sentence, the judge could instead order a period of probation. If you violate this probation, the judge can then decide to send you to jail for that one-year period.
Revoking Probation and Imposing the Maximum Jail Sentence
After a conviction, let’s say that your initial one-year jail sentence was for a crime that has a maximum penalty of five years in jail. Upon learning of your probation violation, the judge can give you the full five years rather than the one year you faced prior to violating probation.
This is a particularly extreme consequence, but it’s also a very good reason to contact an experienced probation violation attorney when dealing with probation violations.
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Adding New Aspects and Regulations to the Existing Probation
Another outcome of a probation violation could be the judge imposing new rules on you. For example, the judge may order you to undergo drug or alcohol rehabilitation, request some sort of counseling, and have you perform some type of community service.
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Differences Between Formal and Informal Probation
California classifies probation into both informal and formal categories.
An informal probation is usually reserved for lesser crimes and often ranges from one to three years in jail. Crimes for which an informal probation may be used tend to be non-violent and not related to drug usage. Restrictions can include community service, a requirement to stay out of trouble with the law, full payment of all court fees, and regular reports to the judge.
On the other hand, a formal probation is typically reserved for more serious crimes and is often called felony probation. This form of probation can have more serious restrictions, such as mandated therapy sessions, regular reports to a probation officer, searches of your person and property and drug testing. Formal probation usually lasts between three and five years.
Common Probation Violations
If you are arrested and charged with another crime while you are serving probation in California, you will most likely be prosecuted for the new charge, and the probation you are serving will be revoked. Most probation violations are not crimes but terms and conditions set forth by the court.
Probation violations can include failing to:
- Appear at required court hearings
- Pay any fees or fines ordered by the court
- Complete counseling, treatment, or education ordered by the court
- Report to your probation officer
- Complete community service
- Maintain employment
- Pass a drug test
- Adhere to protective orders or restraining orders in a domestic violence situation
Probation in the state of California is an act of mercy and leniency from the courts, so it’s important you agree to and comply with the terms and conditions of your probation to avoid serving time behind bars.
Conditions of Probation in California
Regardless of whether you, the defendant, received a felony or summary probation, there are a number of conditions and requirements you must adhere to if you want to stay in good standing with the court. Your probation may require you to pay fines, remain employed, complete community service, and of course, refrain from illegal activity and illegal substances.
A probation may be issued with unique terms depending on the alleged crime. During probation, you will be conditionally released from custody and are to remain out of custody so long as you comply with the outlined terms. A successfully completed probation may prompt the court to dismiss your conviction and you can possibly receive an early termination of your probation.
Can You Violate Probation and Not Go to Jail in California?
Even if you violate your probation in California, you might not go to jail. Minor “technical” violations may bring a lighter punishment than additional time behind bars. Because of the variety of potential outcomes for a probation violation, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you.
So how many times can you violate probation in California?
Technically, there is no limit, but the ability of the court to change the terms of probation in California falls under California PC 1203.3. This penal code allows the court to revoke, modify, change, or terminate probation.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
Seeking experienced legal counsel is always a good idea, especially in circumstances like an alleged probation violation, which can cause serious negative consequences. If you have been accused of violating probation, you will have a probation revocation hearing in court.
Much like a regular criminal case, your defense attorney can help present evidence to tell your side of the story, represent your interests to the court, and provide the judge with a solid argument in your favor. With experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel, the consequences you face can be minimized or eradicated completely.
Simmrin Law Group Can Review Your Case for FREE
If you have been accused of violating your probation, you should consider getting help. Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at the Simmrin Law Group today for a FREE consultation by filling out the online form or by calling one of our offices.