After falling on the wrong side of the law, you may be sentenced to a period of probation. You will be given a specific set of terms to fulfill. Meeting the terms of your probation will allow you to avoid jail time.
In California, a probation violation will result in a hearing. This allows you to explain what happened and why you deserve another chance. Learn how you may win your probation violation hearing and stay out of jail.
The Purpose of Probation
After being found guilty of committing a crime or legal infraction, you may be sentenced to time in jail. To reduce unnecessary incarceration, a judge may allow you to forgo this sentence if you agree to a term of probation.
In general, probation in California tends to last one year. You will be expected to obey all federal and state laws. You may be required to pay restitution, attend counseling sessions, or complete hours of community service. The terms of your probation may also include specific conditions that only apply to you.
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Winning Strategies for Your Probation Violation Hearing
If you are suspected of violating your probation, your probation officer may request you attend a probation violation hearing. You will hear the accusations being made against you and what consequences you face. There are methods you may use to avoid harsh penalties for probation violations, depending on your circumstances.
Prove You Did Not Violate Probation
At your hearing, a judge will review the details of your probation, how you are in violation, and anything you have to say for yourself. If you are found to be in violation, the judge will decide your punishment per Penal Code 1203.2. If you truly did not violate your probation, prove your compliance to the judge. Your probation officer may have wrongly accused you.
If you can convince the judge that you have not violated your probation, you will not be penalized. Your probation will resume uninterrupted. This is the best-case scenario for a probation violation hearing.
Comply With the Terms of Your Probation
Your probation officer may declare that you violated your probation if you have not met court orders. If possible, comply with the terms of your probation before your hearing. If you were ordered to pay restitution or go to counseling, do so immediately.
Work Towards the Goal of Probation Compliance
Unfortunately, you may not be able to comply with your probation before your hearing. If you are behind on your court-mandated community service, do what you can to catch up. Showing that you are willing to make up for your mistakes may lead to a favorable outcome.
Become an Upstanding Member of Society
At the end of your probation violation hearing, the judge will decide whether or not you should be sent to jail. To make this decision, the judge will consider what value you contribute to society. Are you an asset or a liability to the community?
Do your best to demonstrate how you are an upstanding citizen. Focus on how you can better yourself and your community. Even if it is not court-ordered, finding local volunteer work may help your case.
Utilize Community Support
Your chances of staying on the straight and narrow are greatly improved if you create a support system. Surround yourself with people who make you want to be a better person. At your hearing, you can ask members of your community to speak on your behalf.
Anyone such as family members, employers, and members of your church may explain how you better the community. If anyone in your social or professional network can express how you benefit society, this may sway the judge at your hearing.
What Triggers Probation Violation Hearings?
You may have to attend a probation violation hearing if your probation officer believes you have broken the law or disregarded the guidelines of your probation. Actions that may lead to this hearing include:
- Failure to pay fines
- Failure to appear to court dates
- Skipping court-ordered counseling
- Failed or missed drug tests
- Committing a new crime
The probation department will request a hearing to hold you accountable and assign a punishment.
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Do You Always Go to Jail for Probation Violations?
A probation violation may not automatically mean going to jail. You are less likely to be sent to jail if:
- This is your first probation violation
- The violation was technical
- You are otherwise doing well with your probation
- You are originally on probation for a misdemeanor
Despite your best efforts, it’s important to note that you are still at the mercy of the judge’s discretion. If you make changes but do not impress the judge, you can be sent to jail.
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What Happens After a Probation Violation Hearing?
After your hearing, one of three things will happen. The judge will decide whether to:
- Reinstate your probation with no changes
- Reinstate your probation with conditions or for a longer period
- Revoke your probation and send you to jail or prison
You are more likely to have probation revoked if you commit a new crime or show no signs of rehabilitation. You may be required to serve your original sentence but the judge can also choose to impose the maximum sentence for your original offense.
Working with a criminal defense attorney in California may give you additional insight on how to win your probation violation hearing and avoid jail time.