Tutorial: Probation Violations Generally

What is a probation violation?
A probation violation occurs when a criminal defendant who is on probation has committed some act which violates his or her terms of probation. The terms of probation often vary from defendant to defendant, but generally include basic terms that apply to all defendants.  For example, one common probation term frequently applied to all criminal defendants is to “remain a law abiding citizen.”  This means that if a probationer is arrested for any reason, even a charge that is later dismissed, he or she may have technically violated the terms of probation.   It’s important to note that a conviction is not required to violate this specific term.  A mere arrest may be sufficient.
How does a probation violation work?
Once a violation has occurred, the probation officer has the discretion to file a petition with the court alleging the underlying facts substantiating the violation of probation.  If the probation officer files a petition, the court will schedule a hearing and the probationer will be asked to admit or defend the allegations.  In some instances, a probation officer will elect not to file a petition for violation of probation.  For example, many officers will not report minor infractions if they only happen one time.  Most will report multiple infractions, even if minor.

In some instances, the probation officer does not need to file a petition for violation of probation. If, for example, the probationer is convicted of a new crime by way of plea agreement or trial, he or she will be in automatic violation of the terms of his or her probation.

What Happens once a Probation Violation is Filed?
Once a probation violation has been brought to the court’s attention, the judge has the sole discretion to revoke, summarily terminate, or reinstate probation.  A revocation of probation will result in sentencing the probationer to prison (or possibly jail). The ultimate sentencing consequences will depend upon the underlying conviction.  If probation is summarily terminated, the probationer is often released from his or her obligations on probation (and perhaps given jail as a final consequence).  If the judge reinstates the probation on probation, the probationer is allowed to have a second chance at probation.
For an experienced criminal defense attorney who handles probation violation hearings, contact: Verdura Law Group PLLC, 602-421-0515.

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