California law allows probation for a number of criminal offenses, including both misdemeanor and felony crimes. Sometimes you serve probation instead of jail time, or sometimes probation may only replace part of your jail sentence. Regardless, if you were charged with a crime, you were probably relieved when your San Diego criminal defense attorney was able to resolve your case by convincing a judge to sentence you to probation.
However, probation typically comes with along with a list of conditions that you must meet. Conditions of probation may include:
- Payment of fines, court costs, or restitution
- Requirement that you complete drug or alcohol treatment
- Requirement that you hold a job
- Requirement that you perform community service
- Requirement that you wear a monitoring device
- Requirement that you don’t commit any new violations
Probation can last for years, and the conditions of your probation may remain in effect for the entire duration. If you fail to meet any of the conditions of your probation you may find yourself going back to court to face a judge for a probation violation hearing.
Some common reasons for violating probation include:
- Failing to pay fines, costs, or restitution when you have the means
- Failing to show up in court
- Failing to check in with your probation officer
- Getting arrested for a new offenses
- Failing a drug test
- Failing to enter drug or alcohol treatment
- Failing to show up for community service
What Happens When You Violate Probation
When you’re accused of violating your probation, you have the right to request a probation violation hearing and to have witnesses testify on your behalf. You also have the right to be represented by a lawyer. However, a probation hearing differs from a criminal hearing or trial in some respects. First of all, your probation violation case will be in front of a judge, not a jury.
Secondly, the prosecutor only has to prove that you violated your probation by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Preponderance of the evidence is a less stringent standard than reasonable doubt, and only requires the prosecutor to prove that it’s more likely than not that you violated probation.
If a judge finds you guilty of violating your probation, the judge may decide to:
- Revoke your probation and make you serve your original jail sentence
- Revoke your probation and impose the maximum sentence for your offense
- Extend the length of your probation
- Modify your probation to add conditions appropriate to the circumstances, such as community service or counseling
When deciding the consequences of your probation violation, the judge typically will consider a number of factors, including your criminal history, the severity of your violation, any recommendations made by your probation officer, and evidence or testimony that your lawyer presented at the hearing.
How an Experienced San Diego Probation Violation Attorney Can Help
The stakes can be high when you’re accused of violating probation in California. Depending on the nature of the offense for which you’re serving probation, you may have to serve months — or years — in jail if found guilty of violating your terms of probation. Your best chance at convincing a judge that you didn’t violate probation, or that there circumstances exist that support leniency, is to have representation from an experienced San Diego criminal lawyer.
You’ll want a skilled San Diego probation violation attorney with experience in the San Diego court where your probation violation hearing will take place — someone who knows the prosecutors and judges, and the process in that courtroom. You’ll also want someone who will listen to your side of the story with a compassionate ear, and then fight on your behalf to try to avoid having your probation revoked. Because the standard of proof in a probation hearing is lower than in a criminal trial, it’s critical that your lawyer is thoroughly prepared for the hearing and ready to present strong evidence and testimony to supports your case.