Many people feel a huge sense of relief if they are lucky enough to be sentenced to probation for a crime, or to have their sentence deferred pending the successful completion of a probation term. They may think they are off the hook and home-free. However, probation comes with many terms and conditions, and if you do not complete them successfully or are found to have violated them, you may find yourself suddenly having to serve out your entire sentence with all leniency off the table. If you believe you may have committed a probation violation or you have been arrested for violating the terms of your probation, you will have an uphill battle ahead of you, and the best thing you can do is consult a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is a Probation Violation Hearing?
A probation violation hearing occurs to determine whether a violation of the terms or conditions of your probation has occurred. While the specific terms of your probation may vary, common requirements include staying in consistent communication with your probation officer and not breaking any other laws (known as a “laws violation”). The court may order additional terms, known as “special conditions of probation,” and your probation officer may also add to these conditions as needed throughout your probation period. An alleged violation of any of these terms is a basis for arrest, which will prompt a probation violation hearing.
Probation Violation Hearings Have a Lower Standard of Proof than Criminal Court
When preparing for your probation violation hearing, it is important to understand that there is a much lower standard of proof for the prosecution to meet in these hearings than there was in your initial criminal hearing. That is because probation violations are considered by the law to be a civil matter, which means that the prosecution must only prove that it is more likely than not that a probation violation occurred, rather than having to establish this beyond a reasonable doubt. Add to the fact that you can be placed under arrest while attending an appointment with your probation officer, and things can start to feel out of control very quickly.
Succeeding in a Probation Violation Hearing
The best way to succeed in a probation violation hearing is by definitively proving that the alleged violations of the terms of your probation did not occur. Your lawyer can help you develop this argument and prepare a strong defense. Owning up to violations that cannot be remedied may, in some cases, result in a more favorable result (such as stricter terms and conditions, rather than jail time), but this is best navigated with the help of a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the specifics of your case.
Schedule a Consultation with the Johnson Law Firm
If you are facing charges of violating the terms of your probation in St. Charles County or the greater Missouri area, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.