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Probation Violation (What It Is And How It Works: All You Must Know)

What is Probation Violation?

What happens if you’re in violation of probation?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s look at the common probation violations and their consequences!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is A Probation Violation

A “probation violation” is a term used to refer to an “offense” for having broken probation terms imposed by the court.

In other words, if you had appeared before a court for an offense of some kind and the court had imposed certain terms and conditions that you needed to respect for a certain period of time, violating those terms will mean that you violated your probation.

If you ignore your probation order, refuse to respect its terms, or otherwise try to avoid adhering to the conditions imposed by the court, you can be found guilty of violating your probation order.

It’s common to see your probation officer reporting probation violation and order that you present yourself to court to explain to the court what happened.

If the prosecutor is able to demonstrate that you have violated your probation, you may be punished further for your conduct.

Depending on the severity of your probation violation, you may end up with:

  • Additional probation imposed by the court
  • Probation violation jail time
  • Revocation of your probation order and reinstatement of the original sentence
  • Imposition of heavy fines 

Before we continue further, let’s define what “probation” means in the first place.

Probation Definition

Probation is defined to be:

the action of suspending the sentence of a convicted offender and giving the offender freedom during good behavior under the supervision of a probation officer

As you can see from this definition, probation is:

  • A suspended sentence 
  • Given to a convicted offender
  • Giving the offender the right to be free
  • Conditional to respecting good behavior
  • Under the supervision
  • Of a probation officer

In essence, instead of serving time in jail or prison, a convicted offender can remain free by respecting the terms of the probation order.

Typical Probation Terms

What are the typical probation terms and conditions imposed by the court?

The great advantage of probation is that a convicted offender is not sentenced to jail or prison and is given the opportunity to go free (with or without supervision).

Here are some of the most common types of probation terms and conditions imposed by the court: 

  • Probation reporting where the person must report to a probation officer from time to time
  • Restitution of money or possession unlawfully taken 
  • Performance of community service for a certain number of hours or with a specific organization
  • Drug testing to ensure the person is not taking any drugs
  • Alcohol testing to ensure the person is not taking alcohol 
  • Keeping a job 
  • Being subject to random searches by the probation officer 
  • Avoid being involved in another crime or violating the law
  • Avoid keeping firearms or weapons 

Consequences of Violating Probation

The consequences of violating probation can be serious and should not be taken lightly.

If you are found guilty of violating your probation, you may face the following legal consequences:

  • Get additional probation terms and conditions 
  • Have your probation term extended 
  • Have your probation revoked and have to serve your original sentence 
  • Find yourself in contempt of court 

Defendant’s Legal Rights

If you are facing a probation violation charge, you should consult with a criminal lawyer or defense attorney to protect your rights.

As a defendant, you keep in mind that you have the following rights:

  • You have the right to receive a notice that you violated your probations
  • You have the right to be heard by an impartial judge
  • You have the right to be represented by an attorney
  • You have the right to contest the prosecutor’s allegations 

Probation law is managed by federal or state law, so it’s important that you speak to an attorney to get a better understanding of how to handle a probation violation charge.

How Are Probations Violated

In what way can your probation order be violated?

Although the probation laws vary from one state to another, typically you may be found to be in violation of your probation when:

  • You do not respect the terms of your probation
  • You ignore your probation
  • You attempt to avoid your probation requirements 
  • You deliberately refuse to respect your probation 
  • You break any of the terms of your probation
  • You do not appear at a scheduled court appearance date 
  • You do not report to your probation officer 
  • Probation violation for not paying fines 
  • You have something in your possession that was prohibited 
  • You committed another crime
  • You violated the law 
  • You get arrested for some other reason 

If your probation order is still in effect and you fail to observe its terms, you will be considered to have violated your probation order.

Quite often, probation orders can last for a year, two years, or even three years.

In certain cases, a probation order can even exceed three years.

In many jurisdictions, there’s a difference between a rule violation and a new offense violation.

Let’s look at the technical violations (rule violations) along with the new offense violations (substantive violations) to learn more.

Technical Violations

A technical violation is when a person (the probationer) does not respect the supervision rules imposed by the probation officer.

In essence, when you have a “technical violation”, you have a violation of the terms of the probation order but the violation does not result in a new crime.

Here are some examples of technical violations:

  • To miss a meeting with a probation officer
  • To be in possession of drugs
  • To test positive for drugs
  • To test positive for alcohol 
  • To avoid paying a fine
  • To miss a court date
  • Leaving the state without the permission of the probation officer
  • Leaving school
  • Leaving a job 
  • Going to prohibited places
  • Visiting people 

Substantive Violations

Substantive violations occur when a person commits a new crime while on probation.

Generally, probation orders come with a standard requirement that the probationer must respect the law, not get arrested, or be charged with another crime.

If a person is arrested, charged, or found guilty of another crime, we will refer to that as a substantive violation.

Avoiding Probation Violations

Every individual probation order is unique and so you must look at the specific probation order that was issued to you to see in what way and how it can be violated.

In general, to avoid any violations of probation, be sure to:

  • Consult with a criminal attorney or defense lawyer  
  • Make sure you understand the terms of your probation order
  • If you are required to report to a probation officer, make sure you do that whenever required
  • If you are required to present yourself in court, make sure you do so
  • Do not possess drugs, alcohol, weapons, or any other prohibited substance or item outlined on your probation document
  • Make sure you respect the law in general and not get into legal trouble 

Probation Violation Consequences

What happens when you are found to be in violation of your probation?

Let’s look at the consequences for violating your probation by looking at:

  • Warnings
  • The request to appear before the court
  • Your probation violation hearing
  • Your probation violation sentence 

Probation Officer Warning

One possible outcome for violating your probation is that you end up with a warning from your probation officer.

In this case, your probation officer may use his or her judgment to inform you that you have acted in a way that can result in the violation of your probation but for this particular instance, a warning will be sufficient.

You can expect to receive a warning when the violation of your probation was not serious, accidental, or out of your control.

Order To Appear In Court

If you violated your probation in a way that is more serious, your probation officer may require you to appear before the court for a probation violation hearing.

In other words, your probation officer has seen that you have violated your probation in an important way and will want you to present yourself before a judge to get a punishment or a penalty of some kind.

Your probation officer will generally make a probation violation report where he or she outlines the nature of your probation violation, its severity, and report on any important factual elements relating to the violation.

Probation Violation Hearings

When you are called for a probation violation hearing, you will need to present yourself in court to defend yourself if you do not believe you had effectively violated your probation order.

At the hearing, the prosecutor will have to demonstrate to the court that you have violated your probation order.

Often, the prosecutor’s standard of proof is that of the preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it was more likely that you have violated your probation order than not.

The circumstances surrounding your “probation violation” can have an impact on the specific probation violation sentencing that you may get, such as:

  • How serious was your violation
  • Is this your first probation violation, second, third, or more
  • Are there aggravating circumstances that the court must consider 

Probation Violation Sentences

What is a typical probation violation sentence?

Do you go to jail if you violate your probation?

The sentence or punishment for violating your probation may vary from one state to another.

If you are found guilty of violating your probation order and after the court has considered all the factors relating to the actual nature and severity of the probation violation, the court may decide to impose:

  • Extend your probation 
  • Impose additional probation orders
  • Issue heavy fines
  • Perform community service 
  • Participate in a rehabilitation program 
  • Give you jail time
  • Revoke your probation and having you serve your original sentence 
  • Other appropriate punishment 

The court’s decision in giving you the appropriate sentence will also depend on whether or not this is your 1st probation violation, 2nd probation violation, probation violation 3rd offense, or more.

Repeat offenders are likely to see an increasing level of punishment.

Since every case is different, if you have specific questions about what can happen to you if you violate your probation or how much time do you get for a probation violation, you should consult with a legal professional for advice.

Violation of Probation Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

What does a probation violation mean?

What are some examples of probation violations?

Do you get jail time for violating your probation?

If you are found to be in violation of your probation order, you may end up with serious consequences.

The way it works is that if someone is found guilty of a crime (either a misdemeanor or a felony), the court may use its discretion to reduce a person’s sentence or avoid giving them jail time by granting probation as a sentence.

Probation is court-ordered supervision in the community where you are required to respect the law and the terms and conditions found in your probation order.

If you violate your probation, the court may revoke your probation and have you serve your original sentence instead or have you continue your probation with or without modifications.

When a probation officer discovers that you have violated your probation, there are certain steps that may be triggered:

  • The probation officer will report the probation violation
  • The prosecutor may file a motion for revocation of probation or modification of probation 
  • A probation revocation hearing or probation modification hearing takes place
  • The judge decides if you have violated your probation or not
  • If you are guilty of violating probation, the judge may impose a punishment

The punishment can include:

  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Rehabilitation
  • Education 
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Extension of probation period
  • Modification of probation
  • Revocation of probation and imposition of the suspended sentence

If you are wondering how long is jail time for a probation violation or what is the consequence for a felony probation violation, your best bet is to consult with a defense attorney or criminal attorney.

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Violating Probation Meaning And Consequences

  • “Probation violation” is a term used to refer to an instance when a person is convicted of an original crime and given probation terms and conditions to observe has broked or “violated” the probation terms 
  • In many cases, when a defendant pleads guilty to a charge or further to the judge’s discretion can get a probation sentence instead of being sentenced to jail or prison 
  • If the probationer does not respect the terms of his or her probation, the court may either impose other probations or revoke the probation and reinstate the original suspended sentence
  • The common examples of a person violating probation is missing an appointment with a probation officer, miss a court hearing, fail to pay fines or restitution, not do community service, carry prohibited items or substances, not being employed, or committing another crime 
Alcohol probation violation 
Bail bond 
Conditional release 
Constitutional rights 
Criminal lawyer
Lifetime probation 
Motion to revoke probation 
Parole officer 
Parole vs probation 
Presumption of innocence 
Plea bargain 
Probation hearing 
Probation officer 
Probation violation attorney 
Probation violation 
Right to counsel 
Sex offender probation 
Suspended sentence
What is a felony
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Actus reus 
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Beyond reasonable doubt 
Burden of proof
Civil rights 
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Criminal procedure 
Criminal sentencing 
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Habitual offender 
Jail vs prison 
Mens rea 
Mistake of fact 
Preponderance of evidence 
Record sealing 
Sex crime  
Split sentence 
Strict liability 
Traffic violation 
What is felony
What is misdemeanor 
White-collar crime

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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