At the end of the day, a probation violation is a probation violation, but not all violations are the same. In the eyes of the law, there are two types of violations - technical and substantive probation violations.
If you’re on probation or think you may be soon, understanding the nuances of these violations is important to avoid any pitfalls or potential problems that may arise while your freedom is at risk.
Technical Probation Violations
A technical probation violation occurs when a person fails to comply with the conditions and rules in their probation agreement without committing a new offense. For example, if a person is required to attend weekly drug therapy sessions but misses several appointments without a valid excuse, it may be considered a technical violation of their probation.
Common Technical Violations
Probationers must adhere to various probation conditions, and failure to comply with these terms may result in technical violations and potential consequences. Some common technical violations include:
- Missing regularly scheduled appointments with your probation officer
- Failing to complete court-ordered community service
- Not paying fines, fees, or restitution as required
- Violating curfew requirements
- Not attending required counseling or rehabilitation programs
- Traveling without prior authorization
- Failing a drug or alcohol test
Consequences Of Technical Probation Violation
The consequences of a probation violation can vary widely depending on the severity and frequency of the violation and the particular circumstances of the case. In some instances, a probation officer may issue a warning or reprimand for a first-time or minor infraction. However, the consequences may become more serious for repeated or more serious violations.
Another possible outcome is having the existing probation conditions modified. The court may increase drug testing, require more frequent meetings with a probation officer, or extend curfew hours in response to a technical violation. Or, if they don’t alter the probation terms, the court may choose to add additional penalties, which could include fines, community service, or mandatory counseling sessions.
The court may revoke probation in more serious cases, which would result in jail time. The length of incarceration would depend on the original offense and the severity of the violation. Probationers need to be aware of the potential consequences of technical violations and take steps to avoid them.
Substantive Probation Violations
Substantive probation violations occur when a probationer commits new criminal offenses or fails to appear in court while still on probation. These violations are considered serious offenses and often have harsher consequences, such as imprisonment.
Common Substantive Violations
Being aware of these common substantive violations and taking precautions to avoid criminal activity can help probationers ensure they complete probation and minimize the risk of legal consequences. Some examples of substantive violations include:
- Committing any drug or alcohol-related offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI), possessing illegal substances, or public intoxication.
- Engaging in theft or property crimes, including shoplifting, burglary, or vandalism.
- Committing an act of violence or assault, such as domestic violence, battery, or aggravated assault.
- Illegally possessing, using, or selling a weapon while on probation.
- Engaging in fraud, embezzlement, or other financial crimes while on probation.
- Serious traffic offenses include reckless driving, hit-and-run accidents, or driving with a suspended license.
- Committing a sex-related offense, such as sexual assault, possession of child pornography, or engaging in prostitution.
- Contacting someone who has imposed a restraining order or is under a No-Contact order from the court, such as victims or co-defendants.
Violating Substantive Probation Term Repercussions
In some cases, the court may extend the probationary period instead of incarcerating the probationer for the new offense, prolonging the time they spend under supervision. The court may also make the existing conditions more stringent or add new requirements to the probationer's terms, making it more challenging for the individual to comply with their probation and complete their sentence.
Depending on the severity of the crime, the probationer may be sentenced to prison in addition to the time remaining on their original sentence. Going to jail would set them back in their progress toward rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Strategies To Prevent Probation Violations
Implementing various strategies can help you complete your probation, avoid further violations, and work towards a brighter future and normalcy.
Follow The Terms Of Your Probation
Compliance is the foundation of successful probation. Make sure to complete all required community service, attend scheduled meetings with your probation officer, and participate in counseling sessions as needed.
Additionally, avoid contact with people or situations that may have led to your probation in the first place. This may include staying away from known drug users or others with a history of criminal activity. By distancing yourself from negative influences, you reduce the risk of being tempted to engage in activities that could lead to probation violations.
Proactively work towards meeting your probation terms by establishing a good relationship with your probation officer, taking regular drug tests, paying fines on time, and finding ways to motivate yourself towards your goals. This can all increase your chances of completing probation.
Document Your Progress
Keep detailed records of your community service, job applications, and any other activities related to your probation. This documentation will serve as evidence of your compliance and dedication to fulfilling the terms of your probation.
Maintaining a calendar or planner to track appointments, meetings, and deadlines can help you stay organized and on track with your probation requirements. By proactively engaging in these practices, you can show the court that you are taking your probation seriously and working towards rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Avoid Trouble And Seek Legal Advice
Stay out of trouble by following the law, driving carefully, and removing yourself from potentially risky situations. Any encounters with law enforcement, even minor ones, can create problems for your probation status.
If you have any questions or concerns about your probation terms, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice and guidance. They can help you navigate the complexities of the probation system and ensure that you’re taking the necessary steps to avoid violations.
Defending Against Probation Violations
After violating the terms of your probation and speaking with your probation officer, the first step is securing representation from an attorney who can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your situation.
Working closely with your attorney, you'll prepare for court hearings related to your probation violation by practicing answering questions, reviewing your statements, and making sure you have all the necessary documentation and evidence. Additionally, it may be beneficial to present mitigating factors that explain your violation or demonstrate your efforts to remedy the situation. These factors may include personal hardship, health problems, or efforts to obtain treatment or counseling.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate alternative sanctions with the court or probation officer instead of imposing more severe consequences. These alternatives could include additional community service, counseling, or an extension of your probation.
Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or someone close to you may have violated probation, you need legal assistance immediately. The complexities of probation violations and their consequences can be challenging, but having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in protecting your rights and getting the best possible outcome.