For most defendants, the option to spend time on probation instead of going to jail or prison sounds like a perfect outcome to a criminal case. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are a seemingly endless number of ways that you can violate probation – and the consequences of a violation can be serious. A Murfreesboro probation violation lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains what you should do if you have been accused of violating probation.
Probation Basics – What You Need to Know
A primary reason why people end up violating their probation is that they do not really understand how probation works. Probation is a sentencing alternative that may be included in your sentence in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration in the county jail. If you are sentenced to a term of probation, it means you have been convicted of a criminal offense – an important fact to remember in the event of a violation. In fact, most probation sentences include a suspended jail sentence. For example, the judge might sentence you to a year in jail but suspend the entire year with the caveat that you do a year on probation.
Probation Conditions – The Trap that Leads to Violations
Understandably, most people will jump at a plea agreement that calls for probation instead of jail time. What they often do not realize is that the conditions of probation can be so onerous that a violation is almost inevitable. Those conditions usually include both standard and special conditions. Standard conditions of probation include things such as reporting to a probation officer on a regular basis, maintaining employment or enrollment in school, not using alcohol or drugs, paying court costs, fines, and restitution, and not getting arrested for a new offense. Special conditions are tailored to the facts of your case. For example, if you are convicted of a drug or alcohol related offense you might be ordered to undergo testing for substance abuse and ordered to attend counseling. Likewise, if you are convicted of domestic abuse you might be ordered to attend anger management counseling. As you should now realize, violating one of the many conditions of probation can happen easily, often without the intent to violate. Simply missing an appointment with your probation officer or a mandatory class could result in a violation even if you had no way to get to the appointment.
The Consequences of Violating Your Probation
Once your probation officer has notified the court that there is an allegation of a violation the court will schedule a hearing. Although similar to a court trial a probation violation hearing is less formal. You are entitled to have an attorney defend you at the hearing. If the judge finds that you did violate your probation, the judge has one of three options, including:
- Continue you on probation without change. You could just receive a warning for a less serious violation if you have no previous history of violation and/or a convincing explanation for the violation.
- Modify probation. The judge might, for example, extend your probation or add a condition, such as drug or alcohol counseling.
- Revoke probation. If your probation is revoked the judge will order you to serve some, or all, of the suspended sentence that was originally ordered.
Do Not Take a Probation Violation Lightly
If you have been notified of a probation violation allegation, or you believe one is coming, do not take the matter lightly. Your freedom is quite literally at stake. Consult with an experienced probation violation lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
Contact a Murfreesboro Probation Violation Lawyer
If you have additional questions about a probation violation in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro probation violation lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615.898.1560 to schedule your free appointment.