If you violate your probation in California, you could have your probation revoked and be sent straight to jail or prison.  In many cases, judges and prosecutors require strict penalties for probation violations, but there may be opportunities to have your attorney argue for lower penalties like additional probation terms.  To understand the penalties associated with probation violations, it is important to understand how probation works and why penalties are usually so harsh – especially for repeat violations.  For a free consultation on your probation case, contact the Ventura probation violation lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today.

Common Probation Terms and Penalties in California

Probation is an alternative to jail time or a prison sentence, where the person is allowed to stay out of prison as long as they comply with the terms of conduct and supervision the court puts in place.  When a judge issues a sentence of probation, he will usually set a sentence that includes jail time (e.g. 2 years in jail).  Rather than activating the sentence immediately, the judge will “suspend” the sentence.  As long as the sentence is suspended, you stay out of jail.

While your sentence is suspended, you are on probation and must comply with certain rules the court gives you.  Usually, these rules include:

  • Checking in with a probation officer (PO),
  • Avoiding other crimes,
  • Continuing to pay the fines and court costs for your case,
  • Keeping a job or staying in school,
  • Passing random and/or scheduled drug testing,
  • Notifying the court of where you live, etc.

The terms of your probation might also include performing programs the court thinks will help you.  This may include anger management classes if you committed a violent crime like assault or a domestic violence crime, drug abuse classes if you were arrested for drug possession, or participating in alcohol rehab if you were charged with drunk driving.  Your probation might also include community service or other activities as a constructive form of punishment.

Your PO issues occasional reports to the court about your case.  If you continue to perform the terms as required, your PO will usually issue positive reports.  If your PO notices any violations, even minor or technical violations, they can re-arrest you and take you back to court for a violation of probation hearing (VoP).  VoP hearings may lead a judge to revoke your probation or increase the penalties against you.

Punishments for Violating Probation

If you are accused of violating probation, you have access to a hearing to protect your rights and give you an opportunity to fight your probation violation case.  In many cases, your PO will not issue a VoP and send for your re-arrest unless they are sure you violated the terms of your probation.  However, there are mix-ups and miscommunications, and you may have had a good reason that you failed to check in or you may have been arrested for another crime by mistake.  A VoP hearing is a chance to work this out and correct any problems with the accusation that you violated probation.

If the judge confirms that you did violate your probation, you may be resentenced.  This means that the judge can revoke your probation and activate the suspended sentence.  For example, if you had a suspended sentence of 2 years in jail and were ordered to 4 years of probation, the judge may cancel your probation and immediately activate the 2-year jail sentence, sending you straight to general population.  Alternatively, the judge has broad authority to choose other sentences.

Rather than send you back to jail, the judge can restore you to probation with additional or modified terms.  Many probation violations cases are worth a second chance.  It may be far more reasonable to avoid the harsh punishment of jail time and the cost of incarceration by allowing you to remain on probation, especially for more minor offenses or technical/unintentional violations.  In those cases, the judge might decide to increase the severity of the terms of your probation.  This could include adding additional community service, increasing the frequency of drug testing, or ordering you to stay away from certain social groups of known offenders.  If you can comply with these additional terms, you may be able to keep yourself out of jail.

Judges might refuse to send you back to jail after a first probation violation, but repeat violations are often grounds to revoke your probation entirely.  Because of this, it is important that you understand the terms of your probation and avoid violating them.  An attorney can help guide you through your probation terms and help you avoid a VoP.  If you violate your probation by getting arrested for another crime, you will also need a lawyer to help fight those charges, since you could face additional charges from the new offense on top of the increased penalties for your probation violation.

Ventura Violation of Probation Attorneys Offering Free Consolations

If you or a loved one was arrested for violating their probation, it is important to talk to an attorney right away.  Probation violations could come with increased penalties, a return to jail, and additional penalties if you committed a new crime.  For a free consolation on your probation violation case, contact the Ventura criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.