Probation is an excellent opportunity to maintain some level of freedom, keep working and supporting your family, and stay out of jail. However, if you can’t comply with the terms of your probation, you can quickly see yourself sent back to jail. If you managed to avoid having probation revoked after your first probation violation, it is important to understand that your second probation violation might guarantee you are sent back to jail for the rest of your sentence. If you think you may have violated probation or are being held for a violation of probation (VOP) hearing, contact a lawyer today. The Atlantic City probation violation lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on VOP cases.
Can a Second Probation Violation Send Me to Jail?
Probation is designed as an in-between punishment. The government may place certain restrictions on your life, but the goal is to ensure that you commit no further crimes through supervision and requiring you to do things like stay employed and keep making child support payments. If you fail to do these things, the government may resort to locking you up, turning to punishment instead of rehabilitation.
Probation is often used only for less-serious crimes or for situations where jail time would be unfair. This also gives the government the extra benefit of reducing overcrowding in prison and jail. Because of this, the government may not revoke your probation after a first probation violation.
At your VOP hearing, the judge and prosecutors decide what course of action is proper. Your defense attorney has an opportunity to make arguments on your behalf, which may convince the other parties to:
- Not count the violation because of the circumstances surrounding it,
- Add other requirements on top of the current terms; or
- Extend the length of your probation.
Any of these alternatives may be used instead of revoking your probation and sending you back to jail. However, if your violation was severe or this was your second violation, the judge and prosecutor may prefer sending you to jail.
Probation is a “suspended sentence,” meaning that you perform the terms of probation instead of going to jail. However, the jail sentence is always there, on record, waiting to be activated. If you violate probation, the government has every right to revoke your probation and immediately activate the incarceration sentence, sending you to jail.
What Probation Violations Carry the Worst Penalties?
Technically, any probation violation can trigger a VOP hearing and send you back to jail. Many terms of probation are technical parts of the system rather than real, substantive restrictions. For instance, you may need to make weekly check-ins with your probation officer (PO). Failing to appear at one of these meetings or arriving late may count as a full-fledged violation, equal to any other violation.
Many probation violations involve these technical violations, but they do not always result in jail time. Some of these violations are accidental, and do not reflect an intent to do anything wrong. Rather than send you to jail over a technicality, the judge and prosecutor may agree to add restrictions or extend your probation. Judges use your PO as a resource, and may take reports of good progress and good behavior seriously when deciding whether to revoke probation. They may also take your lawyers arguments into account.
More serious violations also occur every day. One goal of probation is stopping further crime. This means that any further crimes you commit while on probation are a violation that courts take very seriously. Even if the offense was a small-time theft offense or drunk driving offense, courts may revoke your probation immediately. Not only can committing another crime end your probation, it can also result in additional sentencing and punishment for that offense.
Other substantive violations also usually end in probation violations. This means you will usually return to jail for violations involving:
- Repeatedly ignoring check-ins with your PO;
- Leaving the state without prior approval;
- Moving without informing your PO;
- Not appearing at court dates; and other violations.
If you were arrested for a probation violation, it does not automatically mean you will be going back to jail. Being on your second probation violation may demonstrate to the court that following the restrictions is difficult, but it may not justify sending you to jail. Talk to an attorney today about what other penalties you could face.
Atlantic City Probation Violations Lawyer
If you or a loved one was recently arrested for a probation violation, or if you think you may have violated the terms of your probation, you should contact a lawyer. The Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to make arguments that can keep you out of jail and help fight extreme penalties for a probation violation. Call (609) 616-4956 today to schedule a free consultation with our Gloucester City probation lawyers.