If you were convicted of a criminal offense and ordered to serve a period of time on probation as part of your sentence, you were also ordered to abide by the terms and conditions of that probation. If the court was notified of an alleged violation of your probation, the matter will be set for a hearing to determine if you did, indeed, violate your probation. If you find yourself scheduled for a probation violation hearing, the best thing you can do to protect your rights is to hire a Smyrna probation violations attorney to represent you at the hearing.
Probation is a sentencing alternative that allows an offender to spend all, or a portion, of a sentence in the community instead of in jail or prison. Probation can be ordered in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration. Unfortunately, many people who are sentenced to probation do not really understand the sentence they received. As a general rule, the actual sentence a defendant receives from the court involves a period of incarceration; however, that period of incarceration is suspended and the defendant is allowed to spend an equal period of time on probation instead. For example, you might be sentence to a year in jail but the court suspends that year and orders you to do a year of probation. That suspended sentence is important to understand because it can come back to haunt you if you violate your probation.
Standard and Special Conditions of Probation
Everyone who is sentenced to probation must abide by the standard conditions of probation which typically include things such as:
- Reporting to a probation officer as directed
- Maintaining employment or enrollment in school
- Not committing another criminal offense
You may also be ordered to abide by special conditions that are geared toward the offense you committed and/or your personal history. Examples of special conditions of probation include:
- Substance abuse treatment
- Anger management classes
- Payment of restitution to a victim
What Happens When You Allegedly Violate Your Probation?
Failing to comply with of any of the conditions of your probation can be considered a violation. The most common violations are being charged with a new offense or failing to complete one of the special conditions, such as substance abuse classes. If your probation officer believes you violated any of the standard or special conditions of probation, a notice will be sent to the court. The court will the either issue a warrant for your arrest or simply sent you and order to appear for a hearing at which time the court will decide if you are guilty of a violation.
What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing?
A probation violation hearing is similar to a criminal trial; however, it is less formal. The prosecutor will present evidence of the violation and you will have the ability to present evidence explaining or contradicting the evidence submitted by the State. At the end of the hearing the judge will decide if a violation occurred. If the judge finds you violated your probation one of three things can happen:
- The judge gives you a warning and you continue on your probation without any changes.
- The judge modifies your probation by adding another condition or adding additional time.
- The judge revokes your probation and you are ordered to do your suspended time in jail.
How Can a Smyrna Probation Violations Attorney Help?
A criminal defense attorney can help you at a violation hearing in much the same way he/she does at a trial. Your attorney will protect your rights and present a defense in an effort to convince the court that you did not violate your probation. Considering the fact that your freedom is at stake, it is wise to have an experienced attorney on your side at a probation violation hearing.
If you have been notified of a probation violation hearing in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna probation violations attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.