In California, probation is typically one part of an overall sentence at the time of a criminal conviction. It might be included in a sentence
Probation in lieu of jail time gives you a number of tangible and intangible benefits. It might allow you to still earn an income by keeping your job. It might allow you to stay at home and at school. However, it is important that you follow the terms of your probation very carefully. A violation of probation tends to have serious consequences. If you have been arrested or accused of violating your probation, you need an experienced California probation violation lawyer who can help protect your rights and fight the charges.
Types of Probation in California
In California, there are two types of probation that may be part of your sentence: formal and informal. The main difference between these two forms of probation is the type of supervision to which you are subjected during the probationary period.
Informal probation: Those on informal probation are not formally supervised, which means they don’t have probation officers to whom they must report to periodically. Those on informal probation report directly to the court and they are only required to do so when they are submitting paperwork such as change of address or when they have to present evidence that they have successfully completed requirements as part of the probation. In domestic violence cases, this might include anger management classes. In DUI cases, for example, you may need to show evidence of completing alcohol or drug education classes.
Formal probation: An individual who is placed on formal probation is supervised by a probation officer. When under formal probation you must meet with your officer sometimes once a month or once a week depending on what your probation officer requires you to do. A majority of probation officers might want to see you more often initially until they get to know you. If you have been convicted of a serious or violent crime, they may want to see you frequently for the entire duration of your probation.
The type of probation you receive as part of your sentence will most likely depend on the seriousness of the crime for which you were convicted. If it was an infraction or a misdemeanor, it is highly likely that you will be sentenced to informal probation. However, if the judge orders drug testing as a condition in a misdemeanor drug possession case, you may be sentenced to formal probation so a probation officer can supervise the testing. Probation in felony cases is possible to be of the formal type.
Violating the Terms of Your Probation
It is important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to get arrested in order to violate the terms of your probation in California. Here are just a few examples of some of the most common types of probation violations:
- Failure to appear at court hearings.
- Failure to pay all of the fines and fees ordered by the court including restitution to victims.
- Failure to report to your probation officer as required or not complying with his or her instructions.
- Failure to participate in court-ordered classes, counseling or treatment or not completing court-ordered community service requirements.
- Failing a drug test or committing a drug crime.
- Not maintaining employment.
- Possessing or being under the influence of illicit drugs. This might be charged as a new offense in addition to it being a probation violation.
- Not complying with electronic monitoring (if the court ordered you to wear an electronic monitoring device).
- Violating a Temporary or Permanent Restraining Order or an Emergency Protective Order in a domestic violence case.
- Leaving the county, state or country without the permission of your probation officer.
What Happens When You Violate Your Probation?
If you fail to comply with any of the terms and conditions of your probation, you are very likely to get arrested and charged with a probation violation. While the court may issue an arrest warrant, you may get arrested on the spot by a probation officer if you are not in compliance with the conditions of your probation. You may be allowed to post bail pending a violation of probation or VOP hearing.
During this hearing, the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney will present evidence and testimony in your case. A probation hearing is different in the sense that the prosecutor will not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated the terms of your probation. They simply need to persuade a judge with a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that all they have to do is show the judge that it is very likely that a probation violation occurred. You don’t have any right to a trial by jury and a judge will decide the outcome of your case.
What Happens If You Are Convicted?
The consequences of a conviction can be serious. If the judge decides that you did violate the conditions of your probation, he or she has the authority to change the terms, revoke or even to end your probation. The judge’s decision might hinge on the type of probation violation you committed. Sometimes, judges might take the approach of temporarily revoking probation and, for instance, order 30 or more days in jail before reinstating your probation. In some cases, if it’s the first violation, the judge may simply reinstate your probation without altering the terms and conditions. In other cases, the judge may choose to extend your probationary term. For example, a three-year term may be extended to five years. If your probation violation involved drug use, the judge might add a requirement to your probation to complete a drug-counseling program.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of violating the terms of your probation, it is crucial that you contact an experienced California probation violation lawyer who will remain on your side throughout the process and advocate for your rights and best interests. If you are in need of assistance with your Violation of Probation hearing, please contact the Law Office of Ashley Daniel for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.