Monday, May 2, 2011


You received a break on the misdemeanor or felony you pled to last year, but you’re still on probation; or maybe you didn’t receive a break, but at least you’re out of jail – be aware that violating your probation will make matters worse.

A probation violation occurs when the sentence the Judge gives is disobeyed during the probation’s time period (usually 3-5 years). So for instance, the Judge says that you must attend and complete a class, but you stop going to it. The class sends a letter to the Court, the Judge sees this, and issues a warrant for your arrest. Another example of this occurs when as part of your sentence and probation, the Judge tells you that you must obey all laws. However, you have a drug addiction and instead of getting the serious help you need, you are arrested for drugs; or you are incorrectly accused of another crime. The Judge sees that you have been arrested and have disobeyed the probation condition of obeying all laws and revokes your probation.

Once a probationer has violated probation, the Court where the sentence was issued will try and have the probationer appear in Court to face the violation by issuing a warrant for their arrest. If the person is on misdemeanor probation, the Court may send a letter to the probationer’s last known address, and depending on the availability of the Sheriff’s office, an officer may try and serve that warrant at the probationer’s work or home. If the probationer is in custody in the same county, such as Orange County, the probationer appears in the Court where the warrant was issued to face the violation. If the probationer is in custody in another county, such as Los Angeles or Riverside, or state, the probationer is transported to the court where the warrant was issued. If the person is on felony probation, after the Judge issues a warrant for their arrest on the probation violation, the probation officer will try to make the arrest.

Once the probationer is in Court, regardless if by appearing as a result of a letter or arrest, they are entitled to a hearing on the alleged probation violation. If the person is accused of not attending a class, paying a fine or giving a “dirty test” (testing positive for alcohol/drugs when they were ordered not to use those substances) and they are wrongly accused, they will want to have a hearing to establish their innocence. If the probationer has been arrested for a new charge, whether misdemeanor or felony, they will want to resolve the new case prior to resolving the probation violation. The resolution of the new case may also resolve the violation on their old case.

If the probationer wants to fight the allegation of a probation violation, they have the right to have an attorney represent them, they have the right to present evidence to defend themselves, and the Court must have the person who is accusing them of the violation testify. However, if the probationer knows that they violated their probation, because they failed to comply with the Court’s terms, it may be in their best interest to negotiate with the Court to be reinstated on probation with as light a sentence for the violation as possible.

The sentence for the violation of probation will depend on several factors: the number of times the probationer has been before the Court on a violation, the severity of the violation, and whether the person is on misdemeanor or felony probation. The person may be found to be not guilty of the violation, they may be reinstated on probation with very little consequences, or they may go to state prison for years. Regardless, an allegation of a probation violation is a serious matter.


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