Probation violations can be triggered, even for technical or accidental probation violations. The law does not consider any probation violations lighter or less-serious violations, and any violation could technically cause serious penalties for your probation. However, judges and prosecutors may not send you to jail for some violations. Talk to an attorney about your violation of probation (VOP) case in New Jersey to see what options you have to avoid jail time. The Atlantic City violation of probation lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on probation cases.
What is the Penalty for Violation of Probation in New Jersey?
Probation is considered a “suspended sentence.” This means that the judge will sentence you to some term of imprisonment, but will suspend carrying it out. While the sentence is suspended, you remain out of jail and stay on probation instead. If you do not comply with the terms of your probation or you commit another crime, probation will end, and the judge will stop suspending the sentence. This means you must go to jail or prison and serve the original sentence.
Some probation violations are serious, and will likely result in the judge revoking your probation and sending you back to jail. However, every time there is an alleged probation violation, the court must hold a VOP hearing. This serves two purposes: first, the government must provide the judge with evidence of the violation, and the judge will decide if the violation occurred; and second, the judge will listen to both sides’ arguments regarding what the punishment should be. This gives your lawyer an opportunity to speak for you in court, and fight the accusations against you.
During a violation of probation hearing, your criminal defense attorney can argue that:
- The alleged facts of the violation are wrong;
- The alleged acts do not legally count as a violation;
- The violation was minor and accidental; or
- Your good behavior makes additional penalties unnecessary, and this was a one-time violation.
These are just some examples of arguments your attorney could make, but there are hundreds of other potential arguments to be made in your favor. The main point is that your attorney can argue that sending you to jail is unnecessary. In some cases, the judge may be willing to extend the length of your probation. While this may keep you out of jail, it is still a steep penalty.
When Do Judges Send You to Jail for Probation Violations?
When you are accused of violating your probation, it is ultimately the judge’s decisions that allow you to remain on probation or send you back to jail. The judge may listen to arguments from both sides and use a variety of pieces of evidence when making this decision.
Your probation officer (PO) keeps reports of your behavior and compliance, and this kind of information is often very important to judges making VOP decisions. If your report shows good behavior, the judge may find that sending you to jail is unnecessary. However, if this violation was the last in a series of violations or part of a pattern of noncompliance, you may be sent back to jail.
The severity of the violation also plays into this decision. Many terms of your probation are technical matters, and violating them does not necessarily show bad actions, just poor compliance. For instance, arriving late to a meeting with your PO could technically send you back to jail – but many judges may see this as too minor of a violation to revoke probation. However, committing another crime, fleeing the state, or failing to appear in court may be serious violations the court will not tolerate. Common crimes people commit while on probation include drug possession offenses and DWI.
The availability of other penalties will often prevent a judge from sending you to jail for less serious violations. Judges can resolve a VOP by adding additional terms of probation or even extending the length of your term of probation. With these options available, a judge may see sending you back to jail as too serious.
Another thing for judges to consider is overcrowding. Both prisons and jails across the US are quite full, and this leads many judges to refuse to send small-time offenders to jail. This does not give you leave to violate probation as often as you want, but may mean that judges may see some violations as too minor to bother further burdening the prison systems.
Atlantic City Probation Violation Lawyers
For any probation violation, the law technically allows judges to send you back to jail. This means that it is vital that you talk to an attorney about your case, and discuss other potential options that may keep you out of prison. In some cases, it may extend your probation or create harsher terms, but it may ultimately help you keep your freedom. For a free consultation on your probation violation, or if you think you may have violated the terms of your probation, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Gloucester City probation violation attorneys offer free consultations. Call (609) 616-4956 today.