Someone who has been convicted of a crime may be sentenced to probation, rather than jail or prison. Convicted persons who are serving a jail or prison sentence may also be eligible for probation.
Probation is the most common form of correctional control. It allows a person to remain in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. As of 2018, 404,000 persons in Georgia are on probation. A person who has been sentenced to probation must abide by certain rules and conditions. If a person breaches any of the conditions of his or her probation, the court may impose a variety of penalties, including additional charges if probation was violated by the commission of a new crime.
Unfortunately, many people find their probation requirements extremely difficult to meet, and get themselves into a cycle of probation violations that turns what started as a minor scrape with the law into a major headache.
Probation violations occur when defendants fail to meet one or more conditions of their release from prison. If you have been convicted of a crime, the judge has the discretion to impose probation instead of jail or prison time. Probation is the suspension of a jail or prison sentence, allowing you to serve your sentence without being incarcerated and subject only to the terms of your probation. As long as you follow the probationary guidelines set by the judge, you may continue serving your probation sentence outside of jail or prison. However, if you violate the terms of your probation, the judge will summon you back to court and possibly send you to jail or prison.
If you have been served with a bench warrant for breaking a term of probation, Atlanta probation attorney David Schnipper can help you avoid severe penalties and imprisonment.
Conditions of Probation
For certain crimes, the judge has discretion to impose a term of probation rather than a term of imprisonment. Probation essentially describes the suspension of imprisonment, based on specific conditions. Individuals serving a jail or prison sentence may also be eligible for probation after a certain period of time. Their release from jail or prison is likewise conditioned upon meeting certain requirements assigned by the judge. Probation conditions, like a contract, are always mandatory and are the way probationers keep their end of the “bargain.” Breaking these terms, even by accident, is known as a probation violation for which the offender will be punished.
Types of Probation Violations
Probation is conditioned upon a set of rules or guidelines that the defendant must follow at all times. It is a form of supervised release that allows the defendant to serve a sentence outside of, or in lieu of, prison. Failure to meet one or more of the conditions of release is a violation that appears on a criminal record like a separate offense. Probation violations often involve:
Possession of contraband is strictly prohibited, even if the conviction did not involve drugs or firearms. Police may seize any contraband found on the person’s body or in the person’s home.
Violation of a court order occurs when a probationer engages in an activity prohibited by the court. This may include gambling, drinking, using a computer, using drugs, and approaching the premises or people protected by a restraining order.
A status hearing is scheduled by the clerk to check on the person’s behavior. Failure to appear at such hearings shows contempt of court and is not looked upon favorably by the judge.
Failure to pay a fine or court fee on time is often caused by economic hardship or a simple misunderstanding of how, when, and where to submit payment.
Checking in with a probation officer is one of the most common terms of probation. The officer reports on the probationer’s status. It is important to appear at appointments and sign in.
Drug tests are required for DUIs, drug offenses, and other crimes. Refusal to submit to testing or testing positive for a prohibited substance is a violation.
Community service is imposed as a preferable alternative to prison. The probationer must timely complete all the assigned hours to satisfy this requirement.
Commission of a crime or separate offense during probation may be punished severely. Infractions and misdemeanors are no longer given the leniency of a first offense.
Activity or association with certain places or people is prohibited when it relates to the crime. Probationers may be required to keep away from gangs, casinos, prostitutes, or drug dealers.
What are the typical conditions of probation?
A judge can impose all kinds of conditions on a person serving probation. They typically fall into two categories.
General Conditions of Probation:
- Do not violate the laws of any governmental unit,
- Avoid bad habits, including but not limited to drinking and drugs,
- Avoid persons or places of a shady or disreputable character,
- Communicate with your probation supervisor as directed and be available to him or her as necessary,
- Work regularly at suitable employment if possible,
- Do not change your residence, move outside the jurisdiction of the Court, or leave the state for any period of time without asking permission from your probation supervisor in advance,
- Support your legal dependents to the best of your ability.
General conditions vary slightly depending on the judge and the jurisdiction. They may be modified to fit individual circumstances. These modifications are usually negotiated between the prosecutor and defense attorney before sentencing, although they may also be modified at a later time.
Special Conditions of Probation:
In addition to the general conditions of probation, the judge may order special conditions depending on the circumstances of the individual case. There are countless variations on these special conditions, but they often include:
- Attend a DUI, risk reduction or a similar program as ordered.
- Attend a defensive driving class.
- Submit to a drug and/or alcohol evaluation. Follow any recommended treatment plan.
- Submit to an evaluation for problems such as deviant behavior, anger and violence, and similar issues. Follow any recommended treatment plan.
- Pay any required or court-ordered fines and/or restitution.
- Complete community service as ordered by the court or your terms of probation.
- Pay monthly probation supervision fees.
- Avoid association certain people or prohibited places.
- Do not drink or take drugs without a prescription.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol tests at your own expense as directed by probation.
While the above examples are the more typical special conditions of probation, there are many possibilities. Like general conditions of probation, they will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from judge to judge. The court will consider factors such as the nature of the offense(s) for which an individual is being sentenced and the facts and circumstances that are unique to each case. Similar to the general conditions of probation, an attorney may be able to negotiate or modify the Special Conditions of Probation.
Probation in Georgia
According to Georgia law, the goals of probation include:
- Preventing the person on probation from engaging in risky habits or illegal behavior
- Keeping the person on probation away from people and situations who would be bad influences
- Ensuring the person on probation works in suitable employment
- Preventing the person on probation from leaving a specified area
- Requiring the person on probation to submit to testing relating to rehabilitation, such as drug testing
Living under “community supervision” means being under intense scrutiny. In Georgia, probation violations fall into three categories—technical violations, special condition violations, and substantive violations.
A technical violation means that an individual has failed to meet a technical condition of their probation, such as failing to report to their probation officer, failing to pay fees, fines or restitution, or leaving the jurisdiction.
A special condition violation means that an individual fails to meet requirements, such as having suitable employment, having no contact with the subject of a restraining order, or not using prohibited substances.
Finally, a substantive violation means that the person committed another crime while on probation. Common examples include drunk driving or selling drugs.
Probation comes with lots of rules. You must abide by all local, state and federal laws, report to your probation officer regularly, complete testing, go to all required classes, complete community service, get and keep a job, and pay related fines and fees. Those are the basic rules.
The judge who imposes them may find these conditions easy to comply with, but many people find it is surprisingly difficult to avoid probation violations.
In the event of a violation, your probation officer will determine what type of action to take. First-time or minor violations may result in a warning, an extension of time on probation, or additional conditions. In the event of multiple or serious violations, probation may be revoked.
If you fail to appear for probationary reporting or required activities, the court may issue an arrest warrant.
Probation Violation Hearings
Probation officers can request a probation violation hearing if they believe the probationer has violated his or her probation. The state must establish the alleged violations by a preponderance of the evidence in order for the court to revoke probation. If the court decides that an individual has violated one or more of the terms of his or her probation, they may consider options such as:
- Community service, diversion programs, intensive probation, special alternative incarceration, and similar alternatives to jail or prison.
- If the circumstances of the violation justify it, the court may order the probation revoked.
If a court revokes probation, the judge may order the defendant to serve out the remaining sentence in jail or prison. Violating probation does not constitute a crime in and of itself. However, a person on probation would likely violate the terms of probation by committing a new crime.
Call Schnipper Law if You Face Accusations of Violating Parole
Treat a charge of violation of probation should seriously, because the judge has the option to repentance you on the original charge, including jail or prison time. To protect your rights, consult an experienced Atlanta probations violations lawyer from Schnipper Law as soon as possible. For a free consultation, call (404) 545-5845 or contact us online today.
Fighting Probation Violation Charges
Experienced Atlanta criminal defense lawyer David Schnipper has successfully challenged alleged violations for probationers throughout Georgia. If you have committed a probation violation or were issued a bench warrant, it is crucial to seek representation immediately. David Schnipper is dedicated to protecting your rights and helping you avoid additional penalties, fines, and prison terms. Do not appear before a judge unprepared. Let Atlanta probation violation Attorney Schnipper prove your entitlement to leniency and freedom. Call 404-545-5845 for a free consultation or contact us online.