If you were recently convicted of a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, part of your sentence handed down by the court may be a term of probation. Probation may be ordered in lieu of, or in addition to, a term of incarceration as part of a sentence. The terms of your probation are considered orders of the court. A violation of those terms, therefore, can result in serious consequences. To ensure that you understand the severity of those consequences, the Smyrna probation violation attorneys at Bennett & Michael explain what may happen if you violate your probation in Tennessee.
One of the most common reasons why people violate their probation is that they fail to completely understand the concept of probation and/or the specific terms of their probation. Probation is a sentencing alternative. As such, a prosecutor is never required to agree to probation nor is a judge ever required to sentence a defendant to probation. If, however, the facts and circumstances warrant leniency, probation may be ordered in lieu of, or in addition to, a period of incarceration. When probation is ordered, it is typically ordered in addition to a suspended sentence. This is one of the numerous ways in which defendants misunderstand their probationary sentence. The judge usually sentences the defendant to a period of time in jail/prison and then suspends that time, allowing the defendant to spend that time on probation instead of in jail/prison. For example, you might be sentenced to serve 365 days in jail, but have all 365 days suspended and ordered to spend that same amount of time on probation. The jail time, however, remains “hanging over your head.”
Standard Conditions of Probation
While on probation, you must abide by standard, and possibly special, conditions of probation. Standard conditions are conditions that apply to everyone on probation, such as:
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Paying court fines and costs
- Not committing new criminal offenses
Special Conditions of Probation
Special conditions of probation are conditions imposed by the court that are tailored to your specific history, circumstances, or crime, such as:
- Obeying a no contact order
- Completing drug or alcohol counseling
- Paying restitution
Violation of Probation Procedures
A probation violation usually begins with your probation officer; however, the prosecuting attorney may also initiate a violation hearing if you are charged with a new criminal offense while on probation. Regardless of who initiates the violation, a notice of violation will be sent to the sentencing court alleging the violation. You will either be sent a notice to appear or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Either way, a hearing will be scheduled to decide whether you violated your probation or not.
A probation violation hearing is similar to a court trial; however, it is less formal. You are entitled to have an attorney defend you at the hearing though. If the judge finds that you did violate your probation, one of the following things will happen:
- Continued without change – if the violation is not serious, and you have no history of violations, the judge might just issue a warning and continue you on probation with no changes.
- Continued with modifications – for a more serious violation, the judge might still continue you on probation; however, with modifications. The judge might, for example, extend your probation or add a condition, such as drug or alcohol counseling.
- Revoked – for the most serious violations and/or for repeated violations, the judge will likely revoke your probation. If that happens, the judge will order you to serve some, or all, of the suspended sentence that has been hanging over your head.
How Can a Smyrna Probation Violation Attorney Help?
A probation violation attorney can represent you at the hearing and present evidence indicating that you did not violate your probation or that provides an explanation for why you did violate it.
Contact the Smyrna Probation Violation Attorneys
If you have notified that a probation violation has been filed against you, or you are concerned that one will be, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna probation violation attorney at Bennett & Michael as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-410-2454 to schedule your appointment.