If you are accused of violating your probation conditions in Nevada, you are entitled to a probation revocation hearing.
At the hearing, your attorney may defend you and argue for you to remain on probation. But if the court finds that you broke the rules, it can impose various Nevada probation violation consequences.
This can include allowing you to remain on probation with increased conditions or revoking your probation altogether – resulting in you being remanded to jail.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. How does probation work?
- 2. What is a probation violation in Nevada?
- 3. What is a probation revocation hearing?
- 4. What are probation violation consequences in Nevada?
- 5. Can I choose not to do probation?
1. How does probation work in Nevada?
Most people convicted of Nevada crimes are eligible for probation in place of incarceration. But in order to remain out of custody, probationers need to follow all the terms the judge imposes.
Ten typical terms of a person’s probation include:
- educational classes, such as DUI School in DUI cases
- counseling, such as Narcotics Anonymous in drug possession cases
- restraining orders, such as in domestic violence cases
- monetary fines, restitution, and/or community service
- random drug testing
- regular court appearances
- electronic monitoring and intensive supervision
- regular meetings with a probation officer (“P.O.”), but only in felony and gross misdemeanor cases
- a judicial order to “stay out of trouble“, meaning to avoid any further arrests or citations
- a “suspended sentence” of jail time or prison time that will be imposed if the terms are violated
The length of probation depends on the seriousness of the criminal case:
Maximum length of probation
|Gross misdemeanors||12 months|
|Category E felonies||18 months|
|Category D felonies or category C felonies||24 months|
|Category B felonies||36 months|
|Violent crimes of sex offenses||60 months1|
But note that judges may not grant probation in very serious felony cases such as:
- first-degree kidnapping
- sexual assault
- attempted sexual assault of a child under 16
- lewdness with a child
- habitual criminal2
Note that probation is not the same as parole. Learn more in our articles, What is the difference between parole and probation? and parole violation hearings.
2. What is a probation violation?
A violation of probation is when you allegedly defy a term of your probation in Nevada. Five common probation violations are:
- not paying a court-ordered fine or restitution
- failing to appear for a mandatory court date, or not reporting to your P.O.
- refusing to submit to a mandatory drug test, or failing the test
- skipping court-ordered counseling or rehab
- getting arrested or cited for another criminal offense while on probation (in most cases, getting parking tickets or minor speeding tickets will not violate probation)
If the police, prosecutors, or your P.O. has probable cause to believe that you violated a condition of probation, one of three things may happen:
- you get arrested and taken before a judge who may or may not grant you bail;
- you are mailed a “summons” to appear in court on a certain date; or
- the judge issues a bench warrant for your arrest (in this case, your attorneys should try to get the warrant “quashed” as soon as possible).3
Once you or your attorney goes before the judge, the court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether you have violated probation. If the judge allows you to remain out of custody until the hearing, you must continue carrying out the terms of your probation.
3. 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 under Nevada law. Unlike trials, prosecutors do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated probation. Instead the evidence must reasonably satisfy the judge that you violated probation, which is a relatively low standard.
When the hearing ends, the judge will make a finding as to 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.4
4. What are probation violation consequences in Nevada?
The more minor your probation violation, the more likely the judge will grant you a “second chance” and allow you to remain on probation.
But the more major the probation violation, the more likely the judge will revoke probation, un-suspend your sentence, and remand you to jail or prison to serve your original sentence.
Some period of incarceration and/or residential confinement (“house arrest”) is the typical consequence of violating your probation in Nevada. 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 and exhibited good behavior before the alleged violation occurred
- recommendations by the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation5
Also see our articles on
- discharge from probation in Nevada (NRS 176A.850),
- Probation Violation Consequences in Nevada – What Can happen?, and
- Probation Revocation – What is it and how can I avoid it?
5. Can I choose not to do probation?
Sure. Some people would rather just do time in custody instead of juggling their daily life with probation responsibilities.
However, a prison sentence is extremely unpleasant and carries a social stigma. Given the choice, it is always recommended that you do probation instead of incarceration.
For further assistance…
Facing criminal charges? Contact our Las Vegas, NV criminal defense lawyers for legal advice.
In California? See our article on California probation violation hearings.
For information about Colorado probation, go to our site about Colorado probation.