Jail and prison are sometimes seen as harsh sentences, whereas probation is not. When a person violates the terms of their probation, they painfully learn just how severe of a consequence this is. Have you been accused of violating the terms of your probation? Learn how challenging a road you face and what you can do to help protect your freedom.
Definition of Probation
Step one in processing the severity of the situation you face is first understanding what probation means and how it works. Probation is often thought of as the opposite of jail. However, probation is just a suspension of a jail sentence, not a termination.
The judge may have sentenced you to a jail term but suspended the sentence and granted you probation for an equal amount of time instead. In exchange for your freedom, you were provided a list of provisions that you were expected to abide by. When you fail to follow these terms, your probation could be revoked.
Probation violations come in a variety of different forms. A judge may also have the liberty to set specific guidelines for each person; however, common violations include a failure to appear in court, associating with felons, drug possession, failure to report to a probation officer, or being arrested.
Consequences of Violating Probation
If you were arrested and you're not in jail, don't assume you are in the clear. Once your probation officer has reviewed the proposed violation, one of two things will likely happen: you will be given a warning or a hearing will be scheduled. A history of following your probation without error and no previous violations, or a violation by mistake may warrant a warning.
However, you must use this second chance as a reset button because the same opportunity may not be extended again. When the probation officer schedules a hearing, a lot more is at stake. A probation hearing takes place in front of a judge. The judge will assess the information surrounding the violation and determine if it's valid.
If the judge finds the accusation is baseless, you walk away. Should the judge see the indictment as valid, several things can happen. The judge can decide to adjust the terms of your probation, which could include more provisions or an extension of the probation period. The judge may also choose to revoke the probation.
In Oregon, you're required to finish out whatever term is left on your probation sentence in jail. For example, a person with a six-year probation term, who had their probation violated at the three-year mark would then spend three years behind bars.
After you are accused of a violation, all hope is not lost — you do have rights. Just as with any other proceeding, each person is assumed innocent until proven guilty. When a hearing is scheduled, several things must occur. The court must provide information detailing the violation you are accused of committing, and the hearing must be scheduled within 14 calendar days.
The judge is also required to evaluate any evidence you have to present to support your claim of innocence. Based on the accusation you face, you need to provide sufficient evidence that supports the claim.
For example, if you're facing a violation due to missing an appointment with your probation officer and you were at work, ask your employer to provide documentation and bring in a copy of your timecard to prove your whereabouts. The judge may not just take your word for it.
After a probation violation, your ability to remain free on the streets is highly dependent on the actions you take with your case. Now is not the time for a mistake. To safeguard your interest and preserve your freedom, it's wise to have an attorney working on your behalf. Contact Mark J. Geiger, Attorney at Law, to learn how I can fight for your rights.