A defendant who is convicted of a crime may ultimately be grateful to avoid a jail or prison sentence by being placed on probation instead. Judges may grant probation during sentencing, but probation may also be agreed to as part of a plea bargain between prosecutors and defense attorneys when the case has a slim chance of returning a desirable verdict for the defense.
Probation is an alternative sentence in which defendants must follow a strict set of rules during the probation period to ensure that they avoid reoffending and complete other terms mandated by the court. It’s a way to keep defendants integrated into society and outside of overcrowded jails and prisons. Defendants who are least likely to reoffend and have been convicted of nonviolent crimes may be more likely to go on probation after a criminal conviction.
While probation may be favorable to staying in jail or prison, it requires strict discipline and routine. Violating the terms of probation can be all too easy in some circumstances—simply missing an appointment with your probation officer may count as a violation. If you’re accused of violating probation in California, you may face consequences you were hoping to avoid during your original sentence.
What Can Happen If I Violate Probation in California?
A person who violates the terms of their probation may be subject to action by the court. The court may revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension or the execution of your sentence if they determine you are guilty of violating probation at your hearing. Keep in mind that to find you guilty of a probation violation, the court must show you violated at least one of the terms by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower burden of proof than reasonable doubt.
At your probation violation hearing, you will appear before the judge who issued your original sentence. They will consider several factors when deciding how to sentence you for violating your probation, including:
- The severity of your probation violation
- Your history of probation violations
- Your criminal history
- Recommendations from the probation department
Ultimately, you may face one of several consequences, outlined below.
Potential Probation Violation Consequences
Judge Revokes Your Probation and Imposes the Original Sentence
If you’re placed on probation, the judge may have suspended your jail or prison sentence. A violation may result in the termination of your probation, and you may be given the original sentence.
For example, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor crime and are sentenced to one year in jail, but the judge suspended that sentence to place you on one year of probation instead, you may be re-sentenced to one year in jail if you violate probation, regardless of how much time you’ve already served on probation.
Judge Revokes Probation and Imposes the Maximum Sentence
If you violate the terms of your probation, the judge may choose to revoke your probation and sentence you to the maximum possible sentence for your original offense. If you were convicted of an offense punishable by up to 3 years in jail, and you avoided jail time through probation, the judge may revoke your probation and sentence you to three years in jail if you violate probation. The time you served on probation may not mitigate the sentence.
Judge Imposes a New and Longer Probation Period
For a less serious probation violation, the judge may choose to terminate your current probation terms and impose a new probation period with the original terms that is longer than the last one.
Judge Orders Counseling, Community Service, or Adds More Terms
If the original terms of your probation did not require you to attend counseling for an alcohol or drug issue or anger management, the judge may add this to the terms of your probation following a violation.
Additionally, the judge may choose to require community service in addition to your probation terms if the original terms did not require you to perform community service. Likewise, the judge may use their discretion to add any additional terms to your probation.
Seek Quality Representation After a Charge of Violating Probation
If you’re facing a charge of violating probation, attorney Dod of Dod Law, APC in downtown San Diego can help you succeed at your probation violation hearing. Remember, there is no requirement for the court to find you guilty of violating probation beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, they just need to show that it’s more likely than not that it happened.
For more than 17 years, attorney Dod has helped defendants receive a second chance at probation. He takes pride in advocating for criminal defendants, and he has been included in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Call (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.