Common Probation Violations

If a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime, that person’s sentence may include some amount of probation. As noted in an earlier post, probation allows individuals to serve all or a portion of their sentence in the community while complying with certain conditions set forth in their plea agreement.

While this presents a great opportunity to avoid serving additional jail time, probation will generally have a number of requirements that must be followed in order to complete it successfully.

Violations

The most common ways that a sentence of probation is violated include:

Not Reporting to the Probation Officer

Under the terms of supervised probation, defendants are required to report to their probation officer periodically. The reporting is sometimes required to be in person. Other times reporting may be done over the telephone or through other means. If a probationer fails to report or falls out of communication with the probation officer, the officer may issue a probation violation warrant.

Failed Drug Screening

Many probation terms include periodic drug screenings. If a probationer tests positive for drugs for which they do not possess a valid prescription, the probation officer may issue a probation violation warrant.

New Criminal Charges

If a probationer is arrested on new criminal charges during the probationary period, this will also lead to a probation violation. 

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Consequences

If one of the conditions of probation is violated, the probation officer can issue a violation warrant for the judge’s signature. This violation warrant must be issued and signed by the judge within the period of time set for the probation. Once the warrant is signed, the defendant will be served with a warrant so that the court can adjudicate whether or not the defendant is in violation. 

If the court determines that the terms of the probation were violated, the defendant faces a full range of punishment, subject to the judge’s discretion. The maximum punishment can be the full maximum sentence the defendant faced when found guilty. 

For example, if a defendant was on 2 years of probation and had successfully completed 23 months of probation when a violation was issued, the defendant could face up to 2 full years of jail time (despite having already completed almost 2 years of probation). 

The court could also decide to restart the probationary period or to put additional restrictions on the defendant. Probationers are subject to the judge’s reasonable discretion when the terms of probation are violated, and judges are given a great deal of latitude in determining an appropriate outcome once a probation violation has been proven. 

Defense for a Probation Violation

If a probation violation warrant is issued for you there are, of course, many potential avenues of defense depending on the type of violation that was issued. 

One such defense that has been successful for prior clients is examining the dates of the probation violation warrant. These warrants must be issued and signed during the probation period. If they are issued and signed after this period, the court loses its authority to punish a violation of probation (even if the conduct relating to the violation occurred during the probation period). 

Attorney John Webb has successfully used this defense in prior cases; in one case, a client’s probation was violated in Sumner County, TN. In examining the paperwork relating to the violation, John realized that the paperwork was filed and signed following completion of the probation period. As a result, the court had no authority to issue the violation. As a result, the probation violation was dismissed. 

If probation was violated due to a failed drug screen, there are also potential ways to defend the violation. For example, it may make sense to have the sample retested to confirm that the test was accurate. Examining the methods of sample collection and processing could also be a potential defense. 

If a probation violation is issued related to new criminal charges, it often happens that the hearing for the probation violation is delayed until the new charges are adjudicated or probable cause for the new charges is established. If the new charges are found to be baseless, the probation violation may be resolved and dismissed as a result. 

The assistance of an experienced defense attorney is critical when facing a violation of probation since the potential penalties are so strict. 

Finding an Experienced Defense Attorney

Attorney John Webb has helped numerous clients facing probation violations in the past. 

In one prior case, John had a client in Rutherford County, TN who was on a probation sentence for drug possession. In the original case, the client was granted judicial diversion, which allows defendants to clear the criminal conviction from their record after successfully completing the program. During the probation period, this client was re-arrested on drug possession charges. 

During negotiations with the prosecutor, John was able to get the DA to agree to allow the client to stay on probation and retain his diversion so that his criminal history could later be wiped clean after completion. This was the best possible outcome for this client and the situation he faced; consult with an experienced defense attorney today to learn what you can do to have a successful outcome. 

Contact John Webb today!

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