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Second chances and missed steps: Probation violation penalties

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Probation is an alternative to incarceration, offered to individuals whom the court believes deserve an opportunity for rehabilitation outside the confines of prison. Probation is a second chance for individuals convicted of criminal offenses, but it comes with certain restrictions that individuals should not violate.

When an individual is put on probation, they can remain in their community under the court’s supervision. The restrictions of probation can be lifted once an individual serves their sentence. However, they may be required to serve the rest of their sentence in jail or prison if they violate the terms of their probation.

Types of probation violations

There are two main categories of probation violations that individuals may commit. The first category is technical violations, which arise if the offender does not fulfill their probation’s stipulated terms and conditions. For example, an offender commits a technical violation if:

  • They don’t make their appointments with the probation officer
  • They don’t complete a mandated treatment program
  • They violate curfew
  • They travel out of a designated jurisdiction without permission

Even though these violations don’t involve new instances of criminal activity, they still demonstrate a breach of trust, which the court does not take lightly. As a result, the defendant may face significant penalties.

The second category is substantive violations, which arise when a defendant engages in criminal activity during probation. These violations are taken more seriously than technical violations because they demonstrate that the defendant is still inclined to commit crimes. Depending on the circumstances of a case, the court may decide that the defendant is still a threat to public safety. As a result, the court may decide to revoke probation entirely and impose the original suspended sentence.

Penalties for probation violations

The penalties for violating probation hinge on:

  • The nature of the violation
  • The offender’s criminal history
  • The court’s discretion

For minor technical violations, the probation officer may issue the offender a warning not to repeat the violation. However, if the violation is significant, the presiding judge may decide to increase supervision, which can look like:

  • Additional meetings with the probation officer
  • More stringent curfews
  • Compulsory attendance of additional treatment programs

In some cases, the court may extend probation to provide more time for rehabilitation.

Offenders who feel they’ve been subjected to unreasonably harsh penalties for probation violations can benefit from appropriate legal guidance. Understanding their legal options can make their situation clearer and help them manage expectations.