What Is A Probation Violation?
A standard consequence of a guilty plea or conviction is a term of probation. Though the judge has ultimate discretion in determining the length of your probation, the standard length of probation is three years for most misdemeanors and felonies and five years for driving under the influence violations.
The terms of probation also vary on a case by case basis. For a misdemeanor, often times a court will order summary- otherwise known as informal- probation. This means that you are on probation to the court, and do not have to report to a probation officer. This also means that, in most cases, you are free to travel outside the county, state, and even outside of the country, without asking for permission.
For felony matters, a judge usually imposes formal probation. This kind of probation involves a probation officer who will monitor your actions and who you will have to check in with. In addition to travel restrictions, there are various other terms of probation you must abide by in order to ensure you are in compliance with the court and the rules of probation.
Probation terms can be confusing as the terms may prohibit conduct that is not otherwise unlawful. For example, a judge may order you not be in an establishment whose main business is the sale of alcohol. This includes liquor stores and bars. Obviously, being in this type of establishment has not been a crime since Age of Prohibition. However, if you are on probation, this conduct could result in serious consequences including a revocation of your probation and serving time in custody.
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A Misunderstanding Could Trigger a Probation Violation
The slightest violation may seem like a hammer hanging over your head – and with good reason. Something as simple as a missed payment or appointment in San Diego can trigger a probation violation. The last things you want to face are the penalties associated with violating your probation.
To make matters worse for you, San Diego probation officers are often reassigned and, as a result, your new probation officer’s directions and rules may be different from your previous probation officer. Ultimately, the judge and the probation officer will hold you accountable for any misstep or failed directive. It is common for miscommunication to develop into an erroneous probation revocation. In fact, it happens every day and, without an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help, probation violations can quickly turn into jail time.
A Probation Condition Must be Related to a Recent Conviction or Your Personal History
Often times, probation officers will suggest and courts may impose conditions of probation that are not reasonably related to the conduct alleged in the underlying offense or connected to any past conduct. There must be a nexus between the conduct alleged either in the recent conviction or in your history to substantiate the need for the condition.
Probation conditions are not meant to be easy, and often times complying with the terms of probation can be complicated, difficult, and very frustrating. You have a right to challenge a condition of probation, but you must do so through the correct channels. It is never a good idea to protest the terms of probation by declining to to abide by them. Instead, immediately call an experienced attorney to request a hearing on the condition, and in the meantime abide by your probation officer’s request. This will ensure that you get to challenge the probation condition while remaining out of custody.
The Consequences Of A Probation Violation
Whether by accident or miscommunication, if you find yourself facing a potential violation, the consequences can be harsh and extremely severe. The judge has discretion to sentence a probationer to serve the remainder of probation in jail or prison as a result of the violation.
When you are arrested on a new charge and placed in jail, you have a right to see a judge for your arraignment in 3 calendar days. No such right accompanies a probation violation, and you can spend over a week in custody awaiting your court date. Thus, even if the judge releases you, you have already spent enough time in custody to cause a major disruption to in your job, to your family, and many areas of your life. All this is possible for those caught off guard and sentenced to lengthy and unexpected periods in jail.
For these reasons, it is wise to consult with probation revocation attorney Jennifer Gerstenzang before attending a hearing by yourself.
Attorney Gerstenzang is thoroughly experienced with probation revocation cases. She can design a strategy that may help you avoid unnecessary jail time and/or additional fines.