Updated July 1, 2020
If you are accused of violating your probation, you are entitled to a “probation revocation hearing.” At the hearing, your attorney may defend your actions and argue for you to remain on probation. If the judge rules against you and revokes your probation, you may face stiff penalties such as prison.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss probation revocation hearings in Nevada and possible winning strategies.
What is probation in Las Vegas, NV?
If you are convicted of a crime in Las Vegas, in many cases the judge may impose probation instead of-or along with-incarceration. The purpose of probation is to rehabilitate instead of just to punish. Typical probation terms may include:
- educational classes (such as Nevada DUI School for violating Las Vegas DUI law)
- counseling (such as Narcotics Anonymous for violating Las Vegas drug possession law)
- restraining orders in Nevada (such as for violating Las Vegas domestic violence law)
- monetary fines and/or restitution
- community service
- a judicial order to “stay out of trouble” (meaning that people on probation may not be arrested or cited)
- random drug testing
- regular court appearances
- electronic monitoring and intensive supervision
- regular meetings with a probation officer–commonly abbreviated “P.O.” (only in felony and gross misdemeanor cases)
- a “suspended sentence” of jail or prison that will be imposed if you violate probation
Probation is a possible alternative penalty in the majority of Nevada cases. Probation may last for up to 12 months for gross misdemeanors, 18 months for category E felonies, 24 months for category D or E felonies, 36 months for category B felonies, and 60 months for violent or sex offenses. But note that judges may not grant probation in very serious felony cases such as:
- the Nevada crime of murder
- the Nevada crime of first-degree kidnapping
- the Nevada crime of sexual assault
- the Nevada crime of attempted sexual assault of a child under 16
- the Nevada crime of lewdness with a child
- the Nevada crime of being a habitual criminal
The downside to probation is that the judge may “revoke” your probation if the court determines that you have violated its terms. Once your probation gets revoked in Las Vegas, the judge may then impose incarceration–up to the maximum sentence for the conviction offenses(s).
What is a probation violation?
Like it sounds, a probation violation is when you allegedly defy a term of your probation in Nevada. Typical probation violations that our Las Vegas criminal defense attorney see include:
- not paying a court-ordered fine or restitution
- not appearing for a mandatory court date
- not reporting to your probation officer
- getting arrested or cited for another crime while on probation (in most cases getting parking tickets or minor speeding tickets will not violate probation)
- refusing to submit to or failing a mandatory drug test
- failure to comply with a court order
Certain violations are called “technical violations.” These mean any alleged violation of the conditions of probation that does not constitute absconding (actively avoiding supervision by eluding the P.O. for at least 60 days) and is not the commission of a:
- New felony or gross misdemeanor;
- Battery which constitutes domestic violence pursuant to NRS 200.485;
- Violation of NRS 484C.110 or 484C.120;
- Crime of violence as defined in NRS 200.408 that is punishable as a misdemeanor;
- Harassment pursuant to NRS 200.571 or stalking or aggravated stalking pursuant to NRS 200.575;
- Violation of a temporary or extended order for protection against domestic violence issued pursuant to NRS 33.017 to 33.100, inclusive, a restraining order or injunction that is in the nature of a temporary or extended order for protection against domestic violence issued in an action or proceeding brought pursuant to title 11 of NRS, a temporary or extended order for protection against stalking, aggravated stalking or harassment issued pursuant to NRS 200.591 or a temporary or extended order for p4o53d5ion.
If the police or prosecutors have probable cause to believe that you may have violated the terms of your probation, one of three things may happen:
- the police may arrest you and take you before a judge (depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be able to post bail),
- you are mailed a “summons” to appear in court on a certain date, or
- the judge issues a bench warrant in Nevada for your arrest (in this case, tell your attorneys as soon as possible so they can try to get the warrant “quashed,” which is the legal term for “thrown out”).
Note that probationers arrested on a technical violation must be brought before a judge within 15 days. Otherwise, they must be returned to probation until there can be a hearing.
If the judge finds that one or more technical violations have occurred, the court may:
- Continue the probation or suspension of sentence;
- Order the probationer to a term of residential confinement pursuant to NRS 176A.660;
- Temporarily revoke the probation or suspension of sentence and impose a term of imprisonment of not more than: Thirty days for the first temporary revocation; ninety days for the second temporary revocation; or one hundred and eighty days for the third temporary revocation; or
- Fully revoke the probation or suspension of sentence and impose imprisonment for the remainder of the sentence for a fourth or subsequent revocation.
Note that courts may not revoke probation because of the following violations by themselves:
- Consuming any alcoholic beverage.
- Testing positive on a drug or alcohol test.
- Failing to abide by the requirements of a mental health or substance use treatment program.
- Failing to seek and maintain employment.
- Failing to pay any required fines or fees.
- Failing to report any changes in residence.
Once you (or your attorney) goes before the judge, he/she may then schedule a hearing to determine whether you have violated probation. In the meantime, you should continue carrying out the terms of your probation . . . the judge will be more likely to take your side if you show you are serious about completing probation.
What is a probation revocation hearing?
A probation revocation hearing (also called a “probation violation hearing” or a “revo hearing”) is like a mini-trial. But there is no jury, only a judge. And instead of determining guilt or innocence of a crime, it is meant to determine whether you have violated your probation.
You have many of the same rights at a probation revocation hearing that you do in trial, such as:
- the right to testify
- the right to be represented by a lawyer
- the right to call and cross-examine witnesses
- the right to present evidence
Note that probation revocation hearings are harder to win than regular trials. Unlike trials, prosecutors do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated probation. Instead they merely need to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. Our LV criminal defense attorneys work hard to craft the best defense possible in probation revocation hearings.
When the hearing ends, the judge will make a finding about whether you violated probation. If the judge rules in your favor, your probation will be “reinstated” and everything will go on as before. If not, the judge may either modify the terms of the probation to make it harsher or else revoke probation altogether.
What happens if my probation is revoked in Las Vegas, NV?
Some period of incarceration and/or residential confinement (“house arrest”) is the typical penalty for having your probation revoked. In determining the final sentence the judge considers such factors as:
- how serious your alleged violation was
- your criminal record
- how long you have successfully complied with your probation terms before the alleged violation occurred
- recommendations by the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation
Also see our article on discharge from probation in Nevada (NRS 176A.850).
Can I choose not to do probation in Las Vegas, NV?
Sure. Some people would rather just do time in custody instead of juggling their daily life with probation responsibilities. However, prison is extremely unpleasant and carries a social stigma. Given the choice, it is always recommended that you do probation instead of incarceration.
For information about California probation violation hearings, go to our site on California probation violation hearings.
For information about Colorado probation, go to our site about Colorado probation.