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Parole and Probation
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What Is Probation Violation

If you are lucky enough to get probation after being convicted of a crime, you will have to follow strict rules. The consequences for breaking those rules, called probation violation, can be severe and may include steep fines or jail time.

Probation Explained

In order to understand probation violation, you must know the rules of probation. The specifics vary by state, but in general, probation is a punishment for committing a crime that allows you to spend less time in jail or avoid jail time altogether. In exchange for this leniency, you agree to certain restrictions on your life. Common probation rules require you to:

  • Meet with your probation officer on a set schedule
  • Attend counseling related to your offense, such as drug or alcohol abuse or anger management
  • Get random drug tests
  • Stay in a specific geographic area and/or wear a monitoring device
  • Avoid contact with known criminals, such as members of your gang or other associates
  • Perform community service

Probation is usually available only for misdemeanors and first-time offenders.

Examples of Probation Violation and Consequences

Probation violations usually take one of two forms: technical violations or new offenses. In both cases, the violation is considered a continuation of your original criminal case.

You commit a technical violation when you break one of the rules the court has set for your probation:

  • Skip a meeting with your probation officer
  • Fail a urine test
  • Associate with people you are supposed to avoid
  • Fail to pay ordered fines or restitution

Your probation officer will often handle technical violations. For a minor or first violation, you may get only a warning. For more serious or repeat violations, your probation officer may report you to the court and you will be required to attend a hearing. At the hearing, a judge will determine if you have committed a parole violation and will set your punishment. Punishments can vary based on the severity of the violation and your history of probation violations. Potential consequences include the following:

  • Extension of the length of your probation
  • Short jail stay followed by continuation of probation
  • Revocation of probation, resulting in the jail time you had previously avoided
  • Payment of a fine

Breaking the law while on probation can cause you twice the amount of trouble. Not only is it a probation violation, but it also opens a new criminal case against you, separate from the violation charge. You will face both a probation violation hearing and charges for the new crime.

If you or a loved one is facing probation violation charges, talk with a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options.