A person who’s convicted of a criminal charge may face probation as part of their sentence. This enables them to remain out in the community while being under the watchful eye of a probation officer.
Probationers have very specific rules they have to follow. There are some that are universal for everyone on probation, but others might be added on a case-by-case basis. Failing to follow those rules can lead to a probation violation.
What happens if you violate probation?
If your probation officer finds out that you violated your probation, they may have discretion about what to do. If you’re lucky, you may receive a warning about the issue so you have a chance to correct the behavior.
More serious violations, however, will likely result in a formal probation violation being filed with the court. This brings the judge into the matter to determine what should happen.
One of the most important things for a probationer to do is to find out exactly what requirements they have to meet. This usually involves:
- Meeting with the probation officer on a regular basis
- Holding a job and keeping a steady residence
- Staying out of additional legal trouble
- Staying away from other probationers, parolees and felons
- Complying with drug and alcohol testing or rehab requirements
There are many possible sentences that can stem from being found guilty of a probation violation. These range from having to do community service, participating in special programs, paying fines or being incarcerated. The judge has a wide berth for determining what should happen.
Probation violations can be very serious because of the possibility of incarceration. Because these matters are handled in a bench trial, which means you stand before a judge instead of a jury, you need to have your defense strategy planned.