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 result, including even more time than your initial sentence.
The worst impact would be to impose the original maximum sentence you could have received for your crime. In other circumstances, you may return to serving your original jail sentence. Finally, you could have additional terms added to your probation, or the court could choose to extend your probation period.
Basic Review: What Exactly is Probation?
Probation is an alternative to serving time in jail after committing a crime. Individuals on probation must abide by specific regulations and conditions that the court lays out, but the person gets to be in the community with others. Typically, the individual will need to appropriately check in with a probation officer to help ensure they are abiding by the probation agreement. However, the type of probation a person gets will impact the need to check in with a probation officer.
Everyone’s probation may have slightly different guidelines depending on the nature of the committed crime. For example, someone convicted of a drug-related crime might need to submit to regular drug tests and attend specific drug rehab programs.
You need to understand the conditions of your probation. Make sure to clarify anything you do not understand about your probation. When you know the guidelines, you are less likely to violate them and face punishment for probation violations.
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How Will the Courts Handle a Probation Violation?
If you violate the terms of probation, the courts may choose to handle it in one or several ways. Your unique circumstances, including your original offense and probation, may impact the court’s ruling. The courts will take several factors into account after your violation:
- Your original offense and sentence
- The specific terms of your probation
- The laws and regulations that apply to your case
- If you are a first offender or juvenile offender
- How you violated your probation
- Your previous criminal history
Lengthening of the Probationary Period
Hypothetically, if you are placed on probation for two years, served one and a half years, and are caught violating the probationary terms, the judge can decide to reset 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 faced if you had not violated your probation. Think of it like a reset. As a consequence of your violation, it is like you have restarted your probation period from the beginning. Or your probation could be lengthened but not necessarily to this total amount.
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Revoking Probation and Imposing the Original Jail Sentence
Judges can choose to cancel your probation and give you the original jail sentence you were handed due to 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 probation period. If you violate this probation, the judge can decide to send you to jail for that one year.
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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. However, upon learning of your probation violation, the judge can give you the full five years rather than the one year you faced before violating probation.
This is a particularly extreme consequence, but it is also an excellent reason to contact an experienced probation violation attorney when dealing with probation violations.
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 counseling, and have you perform some community service.
Part of these additional guidelines would be to ensure you do not violate probation again. But typically, these stricter regulations are better than the alternative of serving more jail time.
Differences Between Formal and Informal Probation
California classifies probation into both informal and formal categories.
Informal probation is usually reserved for lesser crimes and often ranges from one to three years in jail. Crimes for which informal probation may be used tend to be non-violent and unrelated 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, 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.
However, every case is different, and your unique circumstances will impact your probation.
Common Probation Violations
If you are arrested and charged with another crime while serving probation in California, you will most likely be prosecuted for the new charge, and your probation 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 California is an act of mercy and leniency from the courts, so you must 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 several conditions and requirements you must adhere to if you want to stay in good standing with the court. For example, your probation may require you to pay fines, remain employed, complete community service, and refrain from illegal activity and substances.
Probation could be issued with unique terms depending on the alleged crime. During probation, you will be conditionally released from custody and remain out of custody as long as you comply with the outlined terms. Completed probation may prompt the court to dismiss your conviction, and you can receive early termination of your probation.
Can I 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 is vital to work with an experienced probation violation criminal lawyer who can help you.
So how many times can an individual 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 the circumstances like an alleged violation of probation, which can cause serious negative consequences. For example, if you have been accused of violating probation, you will have a probation revocation hearing in court.
Much like a typical 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 altogether.
Your lawyer will review what happened in your unique circumstances and advise you about your best legal options. For example, your criminal defense attorney may work to demonstrate that you did not violate the terms of your probation or that the violation was minor and does not deserve a harsher punishment.
Contact a Probation Violation Attorney for a Free Case Review Today
If you have been accused of violating your probation, you should consider getting help. A consultation allows you to understand our firm’s expertise and how we can help you. And it gives us a chance to review your case and how to proceed.
Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Simmrin Law Group today for a FREE consultation by filling out the online form or calling our office.