You need an attorney who will aggressively defend your rights when facing a probation violation
According to Michigan law, probation is not a right, but a privilege. It is a “form of leniency” that allows a convicted criminal to remain in or re-enter society. A defendant may be sentenced only to probation or probation may be granted after some jail time has been completed. Defendants placed on probation are supervised by a probation officer, also called a field agent or PO. The probation officer is an employee of the prison system (the Michigan Department of Corrections).
Because probation is a form of leniency, it can be revoked at any time. Revocation usually occurs if the defendant has violated the terms of the probation as set forth by the judge. Under Michigan law, if it appears to the sentencing court that a probationer is likely to engage again in an offensive or criminal course of conduct during the period of probation, the court may revoke probation. In addition, probation can be revoked in any manner the court considers appropriate.
There are several ways in which you can violate the conditions of your probation. Some of the most common ways to violate probation are the following:
–changing your residence without authorization or notification to your probation officer
–failing to pay fines or restitution
–failing a drug or alcohol test (sometimes called a “dirty drop”)
–being arrested for a new crime
–missing an appointment with your probation officer
–failing to complete a court-ordered program
–failure to appear at a scheduled court appointment
–associating with a known criminal
–leaving the state without the permission of your probation officer
–failing to maintain school or employment
If you are suspected of violating your probation, you may receive a notice of a violation hearing or a revocation hearing. At a violation or revocation hearing, the court will determine whether the violation occurred as charged. At the probation violation hearing, which is sometimes called a PV, it is not necessary that you be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the burden of proof is much lower; it must be proven only by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated the terms of your probation. That decision is made by the judge and you have no right to a jury trial in a PV hearing. If you receive notice of such a hearing, or even if you just think you may have violated your probation but have not yet been suspected or accused of it, you should quickly contact a knowledgeable, experienced probation violation defense attorney.
Consequences of Probation Violations
If the court finds you guilty of violating your probation, it can take any of the following steps:
Continue the probation without punishment for the violation. This outcome, obviously preferred from the defendant’s standpoint, is most likely when the violation of the probation has been very minor or perhaps a technical violation (for example, changing your residence without authorization or missing one appointment with your probation officer). In these situations, the court or your probation officer may choose to merely give you a warning.
Modify the conditions of the probation, or extend the period of probation. If the probation violation is a bit more serious (such as failure to appear, pay fines, or to complete a program), your probation officer can ask the court to modify the conditions of your probation to require more meetings, counseling, or community service, or to impose more restrictions on your freedom (by setting a curfew, for instance). Many such modifications must be approved by a judge.
Revoke the probation and sentence the defendant on the underlying offense. If the probation violation is serious (failing a drug test, associating with a known criminal, or being arrested for a new crime), your probation officer can request an arrest warrant and you will be called before a judge. If your probation is revoked, the court may sentence you as if probation had never been granted. This basically means that your original sentence would be reactivated.
Our Defense of Probation Violations
At a revocation or probation violation hearing, finding a violation of your probation has to be based only on a “preponderance of the evidence” (which means it is more likely than not) that the probation violation occurred, rather than the stricter “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a criminal proceeding. Since the burden of proof is much lower at one of these probation violation hearings than at a criminal trial, it is very important that you be represented at your PV hearing by skilled counsel.
In defending you against charges of violating your probation, we will first work with the prosecutor to increase the chances that your case will not proceed to a probation violation hearing. However, if it does proceed to a hearing, we will work vigorously to argue that the alleged violation did not occur or that it is not serious enough to require either modification or revocation. Even if you are arrested for a new criminal offense, we will fight to obtain a dismissal or acquittal of the new charges, or to ensure that the new sentence runs concurrently with (and not consecutively after) the probation sentence.
Contact us about your legal matter today! Call us at 1-866-766-5245.