If you were recently convicted of a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, you may have been sentenced to a term of probation in lieu of, or in addition to, a period of incarceration. Although the terms of probation can vary, one condition that is fairly universal is a term requiring probationers to meet with a probation officer throughout the period of probation. If you are currently serving a term of probation, but you missed a meeting with your probation officer, you are undoubtedly worried about the consequences you may be facing. Because you could be facing serious consequences as a result of missing your appointment, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away about the details of your case. In the meantime, however, a Tennessee criminal attorney provides a general oversight of the ramifications of missing a probation appointment, including violating your probation.
Probation is a type of sentencing alternative that may be part of your sentence if you are convicted of a criminal offense. A defendant can be sentenced directly by the sentencing judge to a term of probation in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration in the county jail. Typically, a judge will actually sentence you to a term of incarceration but then suspend that sentence and allow you to complete the time on probation – IF you do not violate your probation. For example, you might be sentenced to 365 days in jail, with all time suspended, and 365 days on probation. Probation is a privilege, in the eyes of the court, not a right. As a result, judges tend to take violations seriously. If you are sentenced to serve a period of time on probation, you will be supervised by the sentencing court throughout your time on probation. You will also be assigned to a probation officer. Most probationers are required to report to that officer on a regular basis; however, in some cases, a court will agree to non-reporting probation.
When you are ordered to serve a period of time on probation, there will be standard terms of probation that go along with that sentence. In addition, you may have special terms of probation as well. Standard terms of probation are terms that every probationer must comply with and may include things such as:
- Reporting to a probation official as directed
- Maintaining employment and/or enrollment in school
- Submitting to drug and alcohol testing and not testing positive
- Not getting arrested for a new offense
Special conditions of probation are terms that apply to your sentence specifically and are tailored to your offense and/or to your history.
Missing Your Probation Appointment
If you miss a scheduled appointment with your probation officer, your officer could file a notice of violation with the court. If that happens the court will likely set the matter for a hearing to determine if you did, indeed, violate your probation. 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.
Typically, probation officers have a decent amount of discretion. If you missed your appointment and you have a valid explanation for doing so, your best bet is usually to contact your officer (or have your attorney do so) and explain before the officer decides to file a violation with the court.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Lawyer
If you are concerned about a potential probation violation in Tennessee, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.