If you have been granted probation, it means that the judge has determined your eligibility for a suspended misdemeanor or felony conviction upon completion of the probationary period. Probation allows you to complete your sentence while under supervision in the community. You can either serve summary or felony probation, depending on the nature of your offense. There are specific conditions that you need to consider while on probation. Violation of these conditions can attract severe penalties.
It is recommendable to hire a professional attorney once you are arrested and detained for violating your probation conditions. Contact us at The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney for a detailed assessment of your situation and learn how best we can help you.
What you Need to Know About Probation in California
You can either be granted a misdemeanor (summary) probation or a felony (formal probation), depending on whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in California. Let's have a closer look at these two types of probation.
Misdemeanor probation is an alternative to a jail sentence. It allows most misdemeanor and infraction convicts to serve part or all of their sentences under the court’s supervision rather than staying in custody.
Typically, summary probation lasts between one to three years in California, although it can last for five years at times. During this period, you should comply with certain conditions.
Judges have a great deal of discretion while crafting terms and conditions of probation in California. While deciding the terms and conditions for the misdemeanor probation, the judge might always determine whether they are reasonably and logically related to the offense.
However, some of these conditions are required by the law and are not based on the judge's discretion. For instance, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you might need to complete a batter's program or treatment as a mandatory requirement made by the law.
Other conditions that might be imposed on you include:
- Paying fines, victim restitution, and court costs
- Participating in individual or group therapy
- Completion of a treatment program like anger management
- Seeking gainful employment
- Completion of Caltrans roadside work or community service
- Subjection to a restraining order if you committed offenses like domestic violence
- Abstinence from alcohol and drugs and attend a substance abuse program
- Avoid driving with a measurable amount of alcohol or submitting to a chemical or breath test
- Attending all court-scheduled dates
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Avoid violating any laws and further arrests by law enforcement
Felony probation is an alternative to prison. It allows sentenced felons to serve part of all their sentence out of prison under a probation officer's supervision.
Not every defendant qualifies for this kind of probation. The judge might decide whether a particular person is eligible based on factors such as the extent of the offense committed and the defendant's criminal history.
Typically, felony probation lasts for three to five years. Throughout this period, the probationer should take heed of specific terms and conditions that have been set forth by the judge. These conditions are as follows:
- Payment of restitution
- The requirement to meet with the probation officer
- Submission to regular drug test in particular drug crimes
- Performance of community service
- Abstaining from alcohol if convicted of certain DUI cases
- Payment of court expenses
- Submitting to unwarranted police searches
- Agreeing not to violate any laws
- Completion of a treatment program
- Mandatory attendance of counseling services such as anger management, sex offender, and domestic violence counseling
Please note that the conditions mentioned above are a few examples. A judge might decide on other requirements as long as they are reasonable and logically related to the offenses you have committed.
How California Laws Define Violation of Probation
Under California Penal Code 1203.3, the court has the authority to revoke or modify the terms and conditions set while granting probation to a person. These conditions depend on the case's facts. For instance, the court will consider the following elements while determining the terms and conditions to impose on you:
- The nature and extent of your crime
- Level of the effect of the crime to the victim
- The weapon used in the crime
- our criminal history
- Whether you are remorseful for committing the crime
- Whether the general public will be safe while you are around
Different Ways a Person Can Violate Probation
There are various ways that a person can violate probationary terms and conditions. This depends on whether you were under a felony or misdemeanor probation. Some of the common ways you can break your probation include:
- Failure to appear to the required court hearings
- Failure to pay all the court-ordered fines or fees and restitution to a victim
- Failure to complete a court-ordered counseling program or treatment like the 52-week Batter's Prevention class for a domestic violence conviction
- Failure to complete a court-ordered community service like community work or Caltrans
- Failure to report to the probation officer as required
- Failure to submit to or pass an anti-narcotic test
- Failure to attend a court-ordered Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) or AA meetings
- Failure to attend a court-ordered Narcotics Anonymous meeting in a drug-related conviction
- Being arrested for possession of contrabands like alcohol and your probation condition had mandated you to abstain from using, possessing, or accessing alcohol
- Being arrested in a restricted area whereas you were restricted from accessing it due to a drug-related offense
- Failure to comply with electronic monitoring terms and conditions, whereas you must wear a monitoring device. This also includes a GPS tracking for a gang or sex-related offense and house arrest
- Being under the influence of illegal medication or drug which you should not possess unless you have a valid prescription
- Failure to enroll or complete an Alcohol Education program for a DUI conviction
- Possession of firearm whereas you should not own one due to a conviction of a domestic violence crime
- Contacting a prohibited person like a child or partner as a result of a sex-related crime conviction
- Leaving the county or state without a permit of a probation officer
- Failure to seek meaningful employment whereas you should find one
- Violating an Emergency, Temporary, or Permanent restraining order after a domestic violence conviction
- Violation of a traffic law other than traffic infraction as a result of a DUI conviction
- Commissioning a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony
Consequences for Violating Probation in California
As stated earlier, the judge has the authority to revoke, modify, or change your suspension or execution if you are found guilty of violating your probation. This will prompt a probation revocation hearing. Judges have discretion in deciding the kind of consequences to impose on you for violating your probation.
However, the judge will decide on the consequences based on your prior criminal history and the probation department’s recommendations despite the discretion. After considering these aspects, these are the potential consequences that might result from your probation violation.
Revocation of the Probation and Imposition of Your Original Sentence
Suppose the judge suspends your original sentence and orders probation instead of jail time. In that case, violation of the probation's terms and conditions might have the court revoke the probation and impose the suspended jail and prison sentence.
For instance, if you were found guilty of grand theft crime, the potential punishment includes 16 months, 2, or 3 years in county jail. Let's now assume that you were sentenced to two years in county jail, but the judge suspends the sentence and grants you probation. However, you later violated your probation and are brought before the same judge for sentencing. At this point, the judge can order the revocation of your probation and impose the previously suspended two-year county jail sentence.
Revocation of the Probation and Impose the Maximum Sentence
If you have committed a probation violation, the judge might revoke your probation and sentence you to the maximum punishment allowed for the particular crime. For instance, if you were sentenced to an offense that attracts a potential sentence of 16 months, 2, or 3 years in county jail, the court might place you on probation rather than serving a sentence. However, if you violate your probation, the court might impose the maximum sentence of three years in county jail, since it is allowed by the law.
Revocation and Reinstating Your probation
At times, the judge might decide to revoke and reinstate the probation without changing any previously imposed conditions. However, you may be required to serve a jail sentence as a condition of reinstating your probation. It is common for a judge to reinstate the probation and require you to stay in custody from 30 to 365 days as a new condition of your probation.
Extension of the Length of your Probation Term
If you were found to have violated your probation, the judge might decide to revoke the probation and reinstate its term for a lengthier period compared to the previous timeline.
Order to Attend a Counseling Program
The judge might order you to attend counseling like substance abuse and anger management as an additional term of your probation. This might be considered if these terms were not imposed on you, and your violation probably indicates a rational need to set these conditions.
Imposing of Additional Probation Terms
The judge can order additional or new probation terms if they are found best to serve the interest of justice.
Order to Serve Community Service
The judge can order you to serve community service for a government entity like Caltrans and the local charity organization if you are found guilty of violating probation.
Order to Attend a Substance Abuse Treatment program
If you are found to be possessing illegal narcotics and alcohol, the court might order you to participate in a rehabilitative program as an additional term of your probation.
Imposing a Fine
The judge might impose a monetary fine up to the maximum amount allowed by the law as a condition of violating your probation.
Prosecution for Your New Criminal Charges
If you violate probation by allegedly committing a new crime, you can be prosecuted for the latest allegation apart from your probation's revocation. This means that you can face new punishments for the new criminal charges that you face.
What You Need to Know About Probation Violation Hearing in California
Once it's proven to have violated your probation, the probation officer or police officer should arrest you and bring you to a hearing. Probation violation hearing starts differently since the court generally issues a bench warrant for violating the terms imposed on your probation. A bench warrant is different from an arrest warrant since it is given when one fails to obey court orders, fail to appear for a court date, or violate probation. This is unlike an arrest warrant which is issued to a criminal suspect.
Once a bench warrant has been made, the police can arrest you without a warrant and bring you to court.
Please note, a bench warrant does not expire and remains in effect until the judge decides to recall it.
Possibility of Bailing Out of Jail While Awaiting a Probation Violation Hearing
The possibility of being granted bail while waiting for your probation depends on whether you were under a felony or misdemeanor probation. For most felony probation, the court might decide to put you on custody with a "no bail hold" until the probation hearing. This might keep you in jail for 45 to 60 days as you wait for the hearing.
If you were arrested on a summary probation violation, you can post bail and have you released as you wait for the pending probation hearing.
Special Rules of Evidence during Probation Violation Hearing
There are special evidentiary rules employed during probation violation hearing. This means that the prosecution must prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that you were guilty of the allegations made against you. This is a lower burden of proof than what a criminal charge would require and means that it “is more likely than not” that you did what you are accused of.
Unlike a criminal trial, a probation violation hearing can consider hearsay evidence. This includes statements made outside the court that can help reveal the information about your alleged probation violation. As long as the evidence is reliable, the court might allow hearsay as evidence in your probation violation hearing.
For instance, suppose you were expected to attend a counseling session as part of your probation's term and condition. You end up missing a few sessions, and the counselor calls your home only for your roommate to answer the line. The counselor asks to speak to you, but your roommate tells him you are out to see a movie. In this situation, the court can accept this kind of evidence since it seems reliable since your roommate was involved and is considered a credible source of information.
Strategies that Will Help You Win Your Probation Violation Hearing
Most people who face severe consequences after violating their probation do not have strategic ways to help them get out of their situations. It is difficult to bear the burden of being jailed or imprisoned, especially if you had been released on probation. Therefore, having the right strategies to increase the chances of winning or getting better results in your probation violation hearing is vital. Below are a few ways that you consider.
Hire a Lawyer Right Away
It is never easy to handle a court hearing alone. Therefore, you need a criminal lawyer with courtroom experience to help you around the probation violation hearing. You need a lawyer who understands the judge's thought process during this kind of hearing and can convince the judge not to send you back to jail or prison. Apart from that, if the probation officer is not giving you a break, your attorney should convince the judge to ask the officer to ease it down. After all, you need the judge to agree to different arguments, and the only way to achieve this is by hiring an attorney.
Try Proving that You Did Not Violate Probation
At a probation violation hearing, the judge makes two determinations. In the first determination, the judge will confirm whether you violated the terms of your probation. In the second determination, the judge will try to determine the kind of punishment you should face as a result. Therefore, if you can convince the judge that the officer is wrong and you did not violate the probation in the ways he or she is saying, the judge will continue your probation, and no punishment will be addressed.
Fix The Violations that are Fixable
When you are expected to "fix" a violation, this means that you should do the things that you had been ordered by the judge while placing you under probation. For instance, if you were expected to pay $1,200 as restitution to a pawn shop, you should find a way to pay up the money. In another example, if you were expected to serve 100 hours of community service, but you have only managed to do 4 hours, you need to do the remaining 96 hours as soon as possible.
Address Your Failings
Not all probation violations are fixable. For instance, if you tested positive for meth on a routine urinalysis test, you cannot get back in time and test negative. The only thing you can do is show the judge that you are working to fix your problem. Therefore, based on your meth situation, you should attend a drug counseling class, take a few drug tests, and ensure that they turn out as clean tests. Whatever you do to convince your judge, it might change the judge's mind and help you better yourself.
Show that You Care
Some judges would take offense to defendants who come to court looking as if they have come out of a bar, gym, or recreation area. Everything in court maintains a specific order and respect. Therefore, if your actions demonstrate that you do not care, the judge might care about you and make a harsh decision. Consequently, you should dress for success to show your seriousness. coThis means that you should wear clean formal clothes, not the t-shirt you were in concert last week or that ragged jean that you so much adore.
Bring Your Paperwork to Court
You should document everything positive about you. Not only should you note what you do, but you should also bring the paperwork to the court. Sometimes you might assume that the court or other agency involved in your probation has these documents only to realize that they have misplaced them. Therefore, you need to come with your documents to the court and use them to compare with the ones presented by the prosecution to verify whether they are accurate.
Always Take Heed of What Your Lawyer Tells You
If your lawyer tells you to go to court counseling and get a few AA sessions, there is a reason behind it. Again, having the right document would work to your advantage, and the judge might see it worthy of giving you a second chance. Therefore, anything that your attorney tells you is crucial to your situation and would help you get the best results.
Be on Time
Being late for your hearing sets the wrong tone for your case. Do not be convinced that justice is fair, and there are no double standards. If the judge or lawyer is late, this will be no big deal. However, if you are late, you will waste the court's time and have your bond forfeited. Therefore, on the day of your hearing, make sure that you are ready to attend it on time.
Find a Probation Violation Attorney Near Me
Violation of probation protocols is common. There are almost a thousand cases reported every year in California alone. However, this does not mean that there are no severe consequences that might result from your probation violation. That's why you should hire an attorney to represent you and use the best and good defenses on your case.
At The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney, we are deeply committed to providing the best legal services to Los Angeles residents by putting a strong defense that will help you in the long run. Contact us anytime at 310-564-2605 for a free non-obligatory consultation with one of our attorneys.