Judges can sentence a defendant to probation at his or her home instead of serving a jail sentence. When a defendant violates a probation rule, he or she could be facing actual jail time. Misunderstandings can lead to innocent people being accused of probation violations in North Carolina. A person may have left the county temporarily due to an emergency, or a drug test came back with a false positive.
Protecting Clients Facing Probation Violations
If you or your loved one has been charged with violating the terms of parole or probation, you’ll benefit from having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. The burden of proof is lower for proving probation violations than for convicting a person of other criminal charges. Attorney Joel Hancock of Hancock Law Firm, PLLC is prepared to advocate on your behalf and present your side of the story.
Common Types of Probation Violations
Probation is a less severe penalty for a criminal conviction than serving a jail sentence. Probation can be supervised by a probation officer or unsupervised. When an individual is sentenced to supervised probation, they’ll be assigned a probation officer. The probation officer will ensure compliance with the probation terms and schedule routine check-ins with the person on probation. Unfortunately, probation violations are relatively common, especially when the terms of probation are strict. There are multiple ways a defendant can violate probation, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Failing a drug test
- Failing to submit a mandatory drug test
- Failure to undergo required mental health treatment
- Failure to pay restitution
- Failure to undergo behavioral courses, such as for domestic violence or anger management
- Failure to pay a court fee or fine
- Failure to appear in court or check in on time with the probation officer
- Failure to complete mandatory community service
- Failure to comply with a court order
- Associating with known felons
- Unlawful ownership of a weapon
- Committing another criminal offense
- Failure to relinquish gun rights
- Being arrested for another crime, even if no criminal charges are pending
- Association with known criminals
- Failure to appear in court for a progress report
Failure to take and pass drug or alcohol tests is among the most common types of probation violations. Another common violation involves defendants not being able to pay for court costs and fines, probation supervision fees, or restitution.
The Potential Consequences for Probation Violations
Ultimately, the judge overseeing your case will decide the penalties for a probation violation.
The most severe consequence of violating a probation violation is revocation. Revocation means that the defendant will be required to go to jail and serve the entire suspended sentence. If a defendant was sentenced to six months in jail, violated probation, and a judge revoked probation, he or she will be required to serve a six-month sentence.
Another potential consequence is to be held in criminal contempt, a period of incarceration for no more than 30 days. Judges can modify your probation to end the probation early or extend your probation. The best way to avoid jail time or probation revocation is to discuss your case with an experienced attorney quickly.
Probation Violation Hearings
Every person accused of violating their probation is entitled to a probation hearing in the superior court or district court. During the probation violation hearing, the prosecutor must prove that you willfully violated one or more probation requirements. Willfully means purposefully or without a valid excuse. For example, one of the most common probation conditions for a DWI conviction is undergoing substance abuse treatment. You can be charged with violating probation if you’ve been accused of not completing the treatment program.
At the probation hearing, a probation attorney can highlight the reasons you didn’t complete the treatment. If you had a valid excuse for not attending, such as being ill and unable to leave your house, your attorney can provide evidence proving you didn’t willfully violate the terms of your probation. During the probation hearing, your probation officer will be able to testify regarding your conduct and whether they think you willfully violated the terms of your probation.
Factors Judges Consider at Probation Violation Hearings
When deciding on penalties to impose for a probation violation at a probation hearing, judges will consider multiple factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Your state of mind
- The actions of any police officers involved
- The likelihood that a reasonable person would have acted in a similar manner
- Lack of evidence
- The seriousness of the violation
- The number of times you violated probation in the past
- Aggravating circumstances
- The length of the probation period you’ve completed so far
How to Avoid Going to Jail For a Probation Violation
When an individual doesn’t intend to violate probation, it’s important that the court understands the unique circumstances surrounding what happened. Attorney Joel Hancock will carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged probation violation. He will help you tell the court what steps you’re prepared to take so the situation doesn’t reoccur. To avoid going to prison, it may become necessary to agree to some type of electronic monitoring, frequent drug or alcohol testing, or additional check-ins with your probation officer.
When you work with attorney Joel Hancock, you can rest assured he will gather all relevant evidence, interview witnesses, and investigate the actions of any police officers involved in your case. He will begin negotiations with the probation officer and department and develop an effective legal defense based on favorable evidence. The sooner he begins working on your case, the more time he will have to gather evidence and develop the strongest legal defense possible.
Discuss Your Probation Violation Case with a North Carolina Attorney
North Carolina prosecutors take probation violations seriously. If you’re facing a probation violation charge, your freedom could be in jeopardy. Attorney Joel Hancock provides each client with the time, compassion, understanding, and resources he or she needs. After carefully evaluating the circumstances of your case, he will develop an effective criminal defense strategy. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC to schedule an initial case evaluation.