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.
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.