Probation Violation Hearing: What to Do
A probation violation hearing might sound simple and straightforward. In many cases, a person makes a simple mistake and faces an accusation that they are in violation of their probation. That should be easy to sort out, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Being on probation is not a simple matter. Moreover, the consequences of a violation are often hefty.
Below, we take a closer look at probation violation hearings.
What Is a Probation Violation Hearing?
When the court finds a defendant guilty after a trial or the defendant resolves their case through negotiations, one possible outcome is probation. In many cases, people prefer this over incarceration – for obvious reasons.
However, probation is rarely easy to follow. First, there are many different types of probation, all of which require you to follow certain terms and conditions. Second, you sign a contract for probation, which means you enter into a legally binding agreement.
Oftentimes, these conditions are time-consuming and difficult. Examples include the following.
- Treatment for addiction or substance abuse
- Completion of a program (such as anger management
- Obtaining a GED or high school degree
- Abstaining from alcohol or drug use
- Maintaining or attaining employment
Additionally, you have to report to your probation officer as well as pay an array of court fees. Often, people have a hard time meeting the terms laid out in their agreement. When a person fails to meet these requirements, they risk violating their probation.
If this happens, their probation officer might seek a probation violation hearing. Through this, they allege that you violated the terms of your probation and seek some form of punishment.
There are many bases for an accusation of probation violation. Some common examples include the following.
- Facing charges for another criminal offense while on probation
- Failing to meet the conditions of your probation
- Failure to complete a court-ordered program
- Failing to report to the probation officer, pay fees, or appear in court
When a probation officer accuses you of violating the terms of your agreement, they might request a warrant for your arrest. If you are arrested, you are brought before the court.
Alternatively, you might receive a notice in the mail telling you to present yourself in court.
Consequences of Violating Probation
When you violate your probation in Texas, the severity of your violation dictates the outcome. In some cases, you simply have to appear in court. If this is the case, your probation officer is likely to request some type of penalty.
This might add another condition or limitation on your probation contract. For instance, you might perform community service or attend a rehabilitation program. In more severe cases, it might result in a large fine or jail time.
Even with a first-time violation, your probation officer can file a report to have the court issue a warrant for your arrest. If this happens, you might spend some time in the county jail. Then, they schedule a hearing to review your case.
What to Expect at Your Hearing
During your probation violation hearing, the prosecution has to prove that a violation occurred by the standard of a “preponderance of evidence.” This means that the evidence shows there’s over 50% likelihood that you violated your parole.
During the hearing, the judge weighs the type, nature, and severity of the violation. Additionally, they look over any mitigating circumstances and history of prior violations.
Then, your lawyer has the opportunity to argue against the evidence. Often, a criminal lawyer stresses how minor the violation was or counters with evidence that there was a mistake. Additionally, they fight against the revocation of your probation.
If the court finds you guilty of violating probation, they then sentence you. This might result in an extension of the probation period, time spent in jail, or an addition of new terms and conditions.
The worst-case scenario is the revocation of your probation altogether. This results in you serving out the remainder of your original sentence.
Partner with an Experienced Attorney
When you face a probation violation hearing, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney helps you understand your rights and your options. Additionally, they guide you through the process and advocate for you.
In Texas, there are no juries in these hearings. However, an experienced criminal lawyer knows how to navigate the process, address your needs, and provide expert legal representation in court.
At The Martinez Law Firm, our legal team has in-depth experience with DWI matters and a range of other criminal cases. When you need an advocate on your side, our team is ready to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.