What can cause someone to get a "Probation Violation"?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

I want to talk today about probation violation hearings, or what are sometimes called probation revocation hearings. As a former deputy district attorney, I prosecuted literally hundreds of probation violation hearings. And now, as a criminal defense attorney, I defend people in probation violation hearings.

Now, when you're placed on probation, the judge will impose certain terms and conditions. So, these are things like you have to pay fines, you have to pay victim restitution, you have to go to certain classes like DUI classes or domestic violence classes. In a felony case, you have to report to a probation officer. And, perhaps most importantly, you have to obey all laws. That means not get arrested for a new crime.

If you violate any of these terms and conditions of probation, then the judge has the discretion to violate your probation, to find a probation violation, and ultimately, to send you to jail or prison for up to the maximum term. So, for example, suppose you're on probation for DUI, and you don't do your classes. That carries a six-month max. So, the judge could potentially send you to jail for six months. Or suppose you're on probation for felony residential burglary. That carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. If you get violated there, the judge has the discretion to send you to prison for up to six years.

But before the judge can violate your probation, you're entitled to have what's called a probation violation hearing. This is essentially like a little mini-trial before the judge, where it has to be established or proven that you really did violate your probation. Usually, these are prosecuted by the district attorney or city attorney. Usually, your attorney defends you at the hearing. Evidence is presented. Arguments are made. And the judge ultimately makes the decision. (See our article, "What are the penalties for probation violations in California?")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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