What happens when I violate my probation?


Violated your probation, you will be arrested and, in almost all cases, no bond set. Unless you work out a plea bargain with the prosecutor, the state will be required to prove that you violated your probation. They must prove it to a judge. You are not entitled to a jury trial when you violate probation. The state must prove that violation by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Establishing the violation is a significantly lower than the standard to prove you committed a crime, where the state must prove you committed that crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

When a judge finds that you have violated your probation, he or she is allowed to sentence you up to the maximum sentence for the crime or crimes for which, in the first place, put on probation. Many people think that if they pled guilty to a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and they were placed on probation for two years, that when they violate probation the most they can get is two years. That is not true. The judge would be permitted to sentence you up to the five-year maximum sentence for the charge to which you pled guilty.

If you have violated your probation, the issue before the judge will only be whether or not you violated the terms of your probation. Neither the judge nor the prosecutor will want to readdress whether you were actually guilty of the charge for which you were placed on probation. That issue was decided when you either pled guilty to it, or a jury found you guilty after a trial.

If you believe you have violated your probation, it is probably a good idea to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in mitigating the damage. Often, a good lawyer can assist you in following the right steps to convince either the prosecutor or the judge not to punish you harshly for failing to follow the terms of your probation.

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