Santa Rosa Probation Violations
Probation violations can be as serious as any new charge. If the court places you on any form of probation and you violate the terms of your probation, you could be brought back to court and face up to the maximum sentence for the crime for which you are on probation. You may also hear or see the term violation of probation abbreviated as “VOP”.
For example, if you are on misdemeanor probation for a DUI and you are accused of violating any term of your probation, such as not completing community service, you can face up to six months of jail time in the county jail. (the maximum punishment for a DUI).
As another example, if you are on felony probation for possessing stolen property and violate any term of your probation, you would face up to a three-year prison sentence, even if you do not have a “joint suspended” or execution of sentence suspended.
In either case, you should obtain the services of an experienced probation lawyer for the best chance of avoiding a new jail sentence or prison time.
Types of Probation
Also known as court probation or a conditional sentence, informal probation is most common in misdemeanor cases. Almost everyone convicted of a first time DUI will be placed on informal probation. On informal probation, you do not have a probation officer supervising you. Generally, you do not need to do anything other than obey all laws and court orders, pay the fines and fees, and follow any other directives of the court, such as attending a DUI school.
Many people on informal probation do not even realize they are still subject to the jurisdiction of the court. If you are arrested and charged with a new offense while you are on informal probation, you will be charged with both the new offense as well as violating probation.
Almost all persons convicted of felonies who are granted probation are placed on formal supervised probation. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, you will be placed on formal probation. In other misdemeanor cases that the court considers serious, such as child abuse or neglect and some misdemeanor sex crimes, the court may place you on formal probation.
While on formal probation you will be assigned a supervising probation officer who you should have regular contact with. If you do not meet with your probation officer or keep him or her updated on your residence, you could be in violation of probation. If that happens, an arrest warrant could be issued and you could end up losing your freedom.
What could be the terms of my probation?
Typical terms of probation include obeying all laws and maintaining good conduct. If you are on probation for a driving-related offense, you will be ordered not to drive unless properly licensed and insured. If drugs or alcohol were a factor in your conviction, you could be ordered to abstain from the use of alcohol, stay out of places where alcohol is the primary item of sale (no bars or liquor stores) and not use or possess any drug unless prescribed by a physician.
As another condition of probation, you could be subject to “search and seizure.” This term means that law enforcement or a probation officer may search you, your property, or vehicle any time of the day or night and your residence any time of the day or reasonable hour of the night. Law enforcement would not need any reason to search you once they are aware you are on probation.
Violation of Probation Hearings
If you are accused of a violation of probation, a judge may revoke your probation based on a finding of probable cause. If your probation is revoked, you are entitled to a hearing within a reasonable period of time.
In Sonoma County, if you are accused of violating felony probation you could be held in jail without bail until your case is resolved. Unlike a criminal charge, only a judge, not 12 jurors, will hear your case. The prosecution has a lower burden of proof at a violation of probation hearing. The standard is a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is what you are entitled to at a jury trial. Sometimes prosecutors will elect to proceed by way of a violation of probation rather than pursue a new charge because the burden is easier for them to meet.
The courts and prosecutors do not take violations of probation lightly and neither should you. If you have been or may be accused of violating your probation, it is in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Google can come in handy for general information purposes, but you should not try to navigate California criminal law without a knowledgeable law firm behind you.
What are the most commonly imposed terms of probation?
The exact terms of probation can vary from one individual to another depending on the nature of the crime that someone has been convicted of committing. In most cases, though, probation terms will include:
- Warrantless search and seizure of your person, vehicle, and residence
- Making restitution for the crime committed
- A requirement to be gainfully employed or in school
- A requirement to refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs
- Orders to avoid contact with the victim(s) of the committed crime
Breaking any of the terms of one’s probation will nearly always lead to a probation violation hearing and the possibility of probation being revoked in favor of a jail or prison sentence.
Will I have to report to a probation officer?
Whether or not you have to report to a probation officer during your period of probation will depend heavily on what crime you have been convicted of committing. In general, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will not have to report to a probation officer but may have to appear in court for regular progress reports. If you are convicted of a felony, you will have to report regularly to a probation officer.
What are the most common probation violations in California?
It’s important to remember that one must meet all of the terms of his or her probation, no matter how insignificant any of those terms may seem. Even a small, unintentional mistake could lead to having probation revoked and being sent to jail. Some of the most common probation violations include:
- Failing to make a scheduled court appearance
- Failing to report to a probation officer
- Failing or refusing to submit to a drug test
- Failing or refusing to submit to a probation search
- Being arrested for a new criminal charge
What is the difference between a criminal trial and a probation hearing?
There are a few key differences that make a probation hearing different from a criminal trial. First, a probation hearing is overseen and decided upon by a judge. There is no jury involved in a probation hearing. Second, guilt does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. One can be found guilty of a probation violation based on a preponderance of the evidence.
In other words, a judge can decide that the evidence against you seems to indicate that you most likely did violate your probation even if the violation can’t be absolutely proven without a doubt. The burden of proof for the prosecution is much lower in a probation hearing.
What are the possible outcomes of a probation hearing?
Before making a final decision at a probation hearing, the judge will consider several different factors including:
- The evidence presented during the hearing
- The probationer’s criminal record
- The probationer’s compliance with probation terms up to this point
- The nature of the probation violation
- Information and recommendations given by the county probation department
If the probationer is found not to be in violation of his or her probation, the probationary period will normally continue unchanged.
If the judge decides that the probationer has violated the terms of his or her probation, the judge has three basic options. He can allow the probation to continue under the same terms. He can allow the probation to continue but modify the terms, or, he can revoke probation and impose a sentence of time in jail or prison.
Speak With A Santa Rosa Probation Violation Attorney
If you are in need of legal advice concerning violations of probation in Santa Rosa California, contact or call the Law Office of Amy Chapman today at (888) 570-3024 to schedule a free consultation. I’ll be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss the best way to move forward.