What happens if you violate your probation?
In criminal cases, a judge will often grant probation, releasing a defendant convicted of a crime back into the community under certain restrictions. Conditions of probation can include drug testing, meeting with a probation officer, and electronic location monitoring -- anything a judge deems reasonable and appropriate.
If you fail to adhere to those conditions, you could just get off with a slap on the wrist -- or you could fare much worse. Here are five potential consequences of a probation violation:
- A warning. Probation officers have broad discretion for punishing probation violators. If your violation is minor or merely technical or unintentional, then your probation officer may just issue a warning and put you on notice that any future violations will be punished more severely.
- A probation hearing. If you have already received a warning or have a history of past violations, your probation officer may order a probation hearing. If the judge at the probation hearing finds that you violated your probation, he may add additional terms to your probation or revoke it altogether.
- Additional probation terms. If the judge finds that you have violated the rules of your probation, he may simply add additional requirements to your original probation or extend it for a longer period of time. Like probation officers, judges have discretion to consider the circumstances of your violation, past violations and other factors in determining the punishment for violating your probation.
- Fines. In addition to or in lieu of additional probation terms, a judge may order you to pay fines, even if you've already paid fines as part of your original sentencing.
- Jail or prison. The judge may also sentence you to serve time in jail or prison, depending on the severity of your original offense and the severity of your violation. Because of your violation, your sentence may end up being longer than you would have had to serve in the first place. In most states, just as with a criminal conviction, a revocation of probation can be appealed.
If you are concerned that you may have violated your probation, or if you're facing a probation violation hearing, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you stay out of jail.
Editor's Note, May 10, 2016: This post was first published in May 2014. It has since been updated.
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