Representing Clients Accused of Violating the Terms of Probation
Many people do not take alleged probation violations seriously. However, if a court finds you guilty of a violation, the consequences can cost you money and limit your freedom for months or even years. At Duffy Law, our attorneys provide qualified representation for people accused of violating probation. Do not wait to call our office if you have a pending case.
If you plead guilty to a criminal offense or a court convicts you, probation is a common sentencing alternative to imprisonment—especially for first-time offenders or less serious offenses. Probation may accompany a suspended sentence. A judge, for example, may sentence you to jail time but suspend the jail sentence (meaning you won’t actually have to serve jail time) and put you on probation. This allows you the chance to prove you can conduct yourself in a way that complies with the law and with probation conditions. If you successfully complete probation, your case will be over and you no longer have any obligations to the state. On the other hand, if you are found to have violated the conditions of your probation, the judge could order that you serve part or all of your original sentence. For example, if you are sentenced to 3 years in prison, suspended, followed by two years of probation, you “owe” the state 3 years. If you are found to have violated your probation, the judge can sentence you to serve a portion or the entire 3 years. Probation, then, is an important part of the criminal justice system for any defendant.
While defendants can certainly prefer probation to jail time, probation can come with many conditions specific to your particular situation. Once sentenced to probation, the court will assign you a probation officer, to whom you must report immediately. Your officer will review the details of your case and conviction and determine the most appropriate conditions for you. A plea deal with the prosecutor can also specify certain conditions, such as attending drug counseling or rehabilitation to avoid jail.
In federal court, there are two types of supervision after a conviction: probation and supervised release. Probation is a sentence a judge can give in lieu of jail time, but only for less serious offenses. If you violate your probation, you can be sentenced to time in prison. Supervised release is a term of supervision imposed after you have been served a prison sentence. The conditions for probation and supervised release are similar. Certain conditions are mandatory by law for all offenses. Specific offenses can carry additional mandatory conditions.
All probation conditions include a condition to not commit any new crimes. Additional probation conditions can include:
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Regular meetings with your probation officer
- Travel restrictions that require notifying your probation officer
- Informing your probation officer about any changes in residence or employment
- Not associating with certain people (who may or may not have been involved in the crime) or staying away from certain places
- Holding a job or regularly attending school
- Attending mental health evaluations and counseling
- Reporting any interactions with police to your probation officer
- Paying all probation fees, fines, court costs, and restitution in the allotted time
- Not possessing firearms or weapons
- Complying with all state and federal laws
- Not contacting or going near victims of the crime
A probation officer’s role is to set conditions and supervise your compliance with those conditions. If you miss meetings with your probation officer, fail or refuse a drug test, are arrested for a new offense, or if your probation officer even suspects you of any other type of violation, your probation officer can report it to the court. The court can then issue a warrant for your arrest (if police have not already arrested you) or send you a summons to come to court for a probation hearing.
Probation violation accusations are more common than you may think, and some probation officers report even the most minor violations. The consequences of probation cases can equal those of the initial criminal proceedings in severity, so you need an experienced probation violations defense attorney protecting your rights.
Warrantless Searches on Probation
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches by police. However, in addition to the above conditions, some people on probation must submit to searches of their homes, selves, or cars without their probation officers first obtaining a warrant. Instead, court-imposed conditions can allow probation officers to conduct lawful searches of your person, home or vehicle if your probation officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or a violation of your conditions of probation. Special conditions of your probation may even allow the probation officer to search your phone, tablet, computer or other electronic devices.
The strictness of your search requirements will depend on the nature of your offense, any criminal history, and the assumed likelihood of you committing another offense. If a search uncovers drugs or other evidence of a crime, police can arrest you—and you may face probation violations as well as new criminal charges.
Penalties for a Probation Violation
The penalties you may face for a violation will depend on the severity of the alleged violation and whether the violation is based upon committing a new crime. Possible penalties may include:
- Increasing the strictness of your probation conditions
- Requiring additional meetings with your probation officer
- Requiring drug or alcohol rehabilitation (if not previously required)
- Community service
- A short jail term to deter you from future violations
- Full revocation of your probation requiring you to serve your original sentence
- Imposing a new term of probation if you are convicted of committing a crime while on probation
If the court revokes your probation, the penalties can range from simply putting you back on your original term of probation to sentencing you to serve your original sentence. If police arrested you for a new offense, these penalties come in addition to any sentence you may receive for a new conviction.
The prosecution carries a lesser burden of proof for probation revocation hearings than initial criminal charges. The court may give a lot of weight to the claims of your probation officer, and the judge has significant discretion when deciding what penalties to impose—so hire a law firm that can represent you in your probation revocation hearing as well as in any new case for which you’ve been arrested.
Call Our Connecticut Probation Violation Attorneys for Help as Soon as Possible
The legal team at Duffy Law handles all stages of a criminal case—even after you were already sentenced and are now facing accusations of violating your probation. We will represent you at probation hearings and any new criminal proceedings, whether you face charges in Connecticut state court or federal court. We have the experience to protect your rights and prevent wrongful penalties against you, so please call our office at (203) 946-2000 or contact us online today.