PROBATION & PROBATION VIOLATIONS
WHAT IS PROBATION?
In California, if you are convicted of a crime, you may be placed on probation. (Penal Code §1203). Probation is defined as “the suspension of the imposition or execution of a sentence and the order of conditional and revocable release in the community.” Essentially, when you choose to be placed on probation, you get a shorter jail sentence at the time of your conviction, but you can be on the hook for more jail if you violate your probation later.
FORMAL VS. INFORMAL PROBATION
There are two types of probation; Formal (Felony Probation) and Informal or Summary (Misdemeanor Probation)
Formal (Felony Probation)
Formal probation requires you to have an active, ongoing relationship with the probation department, but the nature of that relationship depends on the nature of your case. For example, if you are convicted of narcotics related felonies, the court may order that you frequently check in with the probation department and provide urine samples for drug testing. The probation department will also author a formal report at the time of your sentence recommending the terms of your probation and the length of your jail sentence.
Informal or Summary (Misdemeanor Probation)
On informal probation, you do not have a probation officer, nor do you typically need to check in with the probation department, except for some misdemeanor sex offenses. You are simply required to obey the terms of your probation.
WHAT IS A PROBATION VIOLATION?
When a person is placed on probation, they are given “Probation Terms.” A probation term is an order to do or refrain from doing something. (Examples include “Pay $50 fine to the Court” or “Do not drive with any alcohol in your system.”) Every person placed on probation in California is ordered that they must violate no law.
Being arrested or convicted of a new crime, failing to pay fines and fees, or failing to do court ordered jail or community service are all common bases for probation violations.
DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTEST THE VIOLATION?
Absolutely. In California, people charged with probation violations are entitled to a hearing before a judge to determine if, more likely than not, they willfully violated their probation. At that hearing, you may present evidence, choose to testify, and cross-examine any witnesses who are summoned against you. You are not entitled to a jury at this hearing, and the rules of evidence are extremely relaxed so evidence which might not normally be admissible against you may be used to prove the violation (Ex. Hearsay).
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE JUDGE DETERMINES THAT I VIOLATED PROBATION?
There are several possible outcomes in a probation violation setting.
In one case, a judge may simply “revoke and reinstate” your probation, meaning that the court determines that you violated your probation, but they are willing to give you another shot at successfully completing your probation term. You still may have to do jail, but it will be less than the maximum.
If a judge completely revokes your probation, you may then be sentenced to the maximum jail term for the offense. For example, if you are on probation for a DUI conviction, the maximum sentence on a DUI is six months county jail. So if a judge revokes your probation, you could be sentenced to six months in county jail minus any credit you have for time already spent in custody. For felonies this can be years in state prison.
SHOULD I JUST ADMIT THAT I VIOLATED PROBATION?
Not before speaking with an attorney. There may be some benefits in certain circumstances to admitting you violated probation, but it is unlikely you will know if its in your best interest without first speaking to an expert. An attorney with a strong criminal defense track record, like those at Manshoory Law Group, will be able to properly advise you whether you should admit the violation or fight it at the probation revocation hearing.
Please Call Manshoory Law Group for a Free Legal Consultation today.