Probation violations can be a confusing part of criminal law. Probation is designed to be an extremely strict process, where any violation can send you back to jail. In practice, many probation violations do not return offenders to jail, and can be resolved without such serious penalties. However, much of this can be attributed to the help of good probation violation lawyers.
The Gloucester City probation violation defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of breaking the terms of probation at their violation of probation (VOP) hearings, and help fight to keep them out of jail. For a free consultation on your case, contact our Gloucester City law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Attorney for Violation of Probation Hearings in Gloucester City, NJ
A violation of probation hearing is not as formal as something like a criminal trial. In many cases, you will be brought into the court room in a jumpsuit and handcuffs if you have been re-arrested, and the only people involved in the hearing will be you, your lawyer, the prosecutor, your probation officer (PO), and the judge. Sometimes, the judge will need evidence of the violation, which may mean calling on witnesses to give testimony about the violation, but the information your PO provides may be enough.
The goal of a VOP hearing is to establish whether or not the violation actually occurred, decide the penalties, and order the next steps. This is where your attorney has an opportunity to challenge the case against you. First, your attorney can argue facts and present evidence that shows the violation did not occur. Alternatively, your lawyer can argue how the alleged violation did not actually go against the terms of your probation, and was not a violation. If that fails, your lawyer can argue that lowered penalties are strong enough to cover your violations. Ultimately, when you leave the courtroom, you will either go home or go to jail.
Types of Probation Violations in Gloucester City, NJ
The law gives judges the power to revoke your probation and return you to jail after any probation violation. Although the system is intended to have zero tolerance for violations, judges often treat violations differently depending on certain factors.
Many violations are merely technical violations. The terms of probation often require you to check in on a regular schedule, stay in school or keep your job, report where you live and who you live with, and follow other requirements. If you were not on probation, violating these rules would not be a crime – but the terms of your probation make it a violation not to do these things. If you violate one of these terms by accident or because of some extenuating circumstances, judges may let you off with a warning or put other requirements in place to help ensure these violations do not happen again.
Other violations are more serious. The terms of probation often require you to get permission from your PO before leaving the state, appear at required court hearings, and follow all instructions from your PO. If you flee the state, miss court dates, or ignore your PO’s demands, judges may see this as insubordination. Though these are not generally criminal offenses, either, they are still serious probation violations and may result in increased terms of supervision, extended probation, or probation revocation and return to jail.
Lastly, many probation sentences end when the offender commits another crime. Getting re-arrested for another crime not only means you could face any penalties for committing that crime, but it is one of the most serious types of probation violations. Even for low-level offenses like shoplifting, a judge can order a full probation violation and return to jail. Many probation revocations happen because of crimes like drunk driving, assault during a fight, disorderly conduct, or drug possession. Though these crimes may not be the most serious offenses, they violate the terms of your probation and can mean immediate re-arrest, revocation of your probation, and immediate transfer to jail or prison.
What Does a Probation Officer Do During VOP Cases?
Your probation officer is often the best record of how your probation has gone so far, and judges rely heavily on the information and insight they provide. If you have had a good, honest relationship with your PO, they may advocate to keep you on probation and avoid jail time. However, your PO is not your attorney, and does not represent your interests. They are intended to be a neutral officer, but still work for the government, and may attempt to put you back in jail. Try to keep all conversations with your PO professional and polite, and consult an attorney immediately if your PO has filed accusations of a probation violation; do not try to plead with your PO. Once the violation is filed, it becomes the judge’s decision what to do next.
Gloucester City Lawyer for Violation of Probation Hearings
The Gloucester City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent probationers on their probation violation cases and at VOP hearings. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.