Probation officers have a fairly wide berth when it comes to revoking your probation. However, having your probation revoked does not necessarily mean that you need to go back to jail. Before anything happens, you have the right to a revocation hearing. A revocation hearing is important, and could determine whether or not you're able to serve the rest of your sentence outside.
What is a Revocation of Probation?
Probation is a suspension of an existing jail sentence. While you still must serve the time, you can serve the time at home rather than in jail. However, because it's a suspension of a jail sentence, you need to follow certain requirements. This can include:
- Avoiding individuals or environments that are likely to encourage you to commit crimes again.
- Not traveling out-of-state without the express permission of your probation officer.
- Obeying all laws and avoiding committing any other crimes.
- Submitting to regular or random drug or alcohol testing, and avoiding alcohol as required.
- Appearing at your court dates and continuing to pay any necessary fines or restitution.
If you are found to have broken the terms of your probation, it's possible that your probation could be revoked. But before that even happens, you have the right to a revocation hearing.
What is a Revocation Hearing?
Much like a criminal trial, a revocation hearing is designed to determine whether you truly committed the offense and whether you should have to serve the rest of your sentence in jail. A revocation hearing will include a judge and a prosecuting attorney, and it's your right to get your own attorney.
During a revocation hearing, evidence will be presented that shows that you, in some way, violated the terms of your parole. It will be up to you and your counsel to provide evidence that either you did not violate those terms or that there was some mitigating circumstance.
What Happens If You're Found Guilty?
Even if you're found guilty of violating your probation, it's up to the judge's discretion whether you're sent back to jail. They may decide that you would be better served through more rigorous counseling, a substance abuse program, or simply more time on probation.
As it is up to the judge's discretion, it's important to get legal aid even if you feel that you were guilty of originally revoking your probation. Legal aid can be used to show that there were mitigating factors to your offense, or that you are taking your new office to heart and that you are trying your best to change. You can also use evidence that you've been conscientious about the other terms of your probation, as support.
What If Your Probation Is Revoked?
If your probation is revoked by the court, you still have a chance to appeal. An appeal will escalate your revocation to a higher court, in an effort to show some way in which the lower court had failed you.
A probation violation can potentially be dismissed if the court did not have enough evidence to show that you had violated your probation. You might also be able to show that there was some error in collecting this evidence or that the court ruled unfairly against you for another reason.
A probation appeal is generally the last chance that you have at avoiding a revoked probation, but you can continue to appeal if you feel that you have been unfairly treated.
Issues of probation are complex. If you're currently facing a revocation hearing (or you believe you might be), it's best to get legal help as soon as possible. Contact the offices of James Parrish Coleman, Attorney at Law to find out more about your options.