1. What is a Probation Violation?
Probation violations are issues that can come up after you are convicted and sentenced, placed on probation, informed by the Court of the terms of your probation, ie. what you must do, and what you cannot do, and subsequently get caught for failing to comply with those terms while on active probation.
For example, terms of probation may include completing a certain amount of community labor or completing a treatment program and submitting proof of that completion to the court by a certain date. If you fail to submit to the Court the proof of completion by the due date, a probation violation issue will likely arise.
Similarly, if the court tells you that you can not do something while on probation, and that “something” occurs, it will likely raise a probation violation issue. For example, when convicted of a DUI a term of your probation is that you cannot drive with a .01 or higher Blood Alcohol Content level. If subsequently while still on probation for DUI you get pulled over and have a breath test result of .03, that would create a probation violation issue (as well as issue with the DMV in that situation) even though that same result while not on probation may not have any consequences for someone 21 or older.
2. Formal Probation vs. Informal Probation
For Clarification purposes, there are generally two types of probation, Formal Probation and Informal probation. The nuances of how the probation is handled may depend on what County your conviction is in.
Generally speaking, Formal Probation is sentenced for more serious convictions (ie. felonies) and requires the Defendant to check in with a probation department and/or probation officer regularly. There are usually probation fees associated with Formal Probation.
Informal probation (also referred to as Summary Probation) generally does not require the Defendant to check in with a probation officer or probation department and usually does not have reoccurring/monthly probation fees. Informal probation is normally used for misdemeanor convictions, but it is possible to get formal probation for a misdemeanor depending on what county/court your conviction is in. For example, Ventura Court often has formal probation for misdemeanor convictions, although sometimes they have what they term as a conditional revocable release which is similar in nature to Informal Probation. Los Angeles County on the other hand generally uses informal probation for misdemeanor convictions.
3. Common issues that cause Probation violations include:
- New arrest. A term of probation is to obey all laws. If you get arrested on a new felony or misdemeanor charge, that would allegedly not be obeying all laws.
- Failure to complete or submit proof of completion to the Court of a Court ordered program by the required due date
- Remember, although you may have had an attorney represent you on your criminal case, generally speaking it is your responsibility to submit proof of completions to the Court before the due date.
- Failure to pay off a fine by the Court ordered due date
- Not staying away from somewhere or someone pursuant to Court Order
- Failure to complete or submit proof of completion to the Court of community labor or community service.
4. What happens if I get caught violating probation?
As mentioned above, if the Court is notified of a probation violation issue, the first step is generally revoking probation. Depending on the situation, the Court may then issue a bench warrant for your arrest until an appearance is made at Court on the probation violation issue.
In situations where you are arrested on a new misdemeanor or felony in the same county or court where the underlying conviction that put you on probation, the probation violation matter may get added on to the Court date with the new charge.
5. What is the punishment if I have a probation violation issue?
Generally speaking, the Court has authority to punish you up to the maximum penalty allowed for by the underlying charge that you were originally convicted of. For example. If you were convicted of a 2nd DUI and had to serve 30 days of jail (even though the maximum jail penalty on a 2nd DUI is a year), but then violated probation, the Court could then sentence you to jail up to the maximum allowed for that conviction, as well as other penalties.
6. Can anything be done to minimize or avoid consequences as a result of a probation violation issue?
Yes. Although it is obviously recommended to comply with the terms of your probation, mistakes are made, programs aren’t completed on time, and deadlines are missed, etc.
I have assisted countless clients get their warrants recalled and quashed, mitigate or avoid additional penalties, and get probation reinstated to the original terms. Call me at 818-336-1384 to discuss your probation violation issue in more detail.
-Phil Hache, Criminal Defense Attorney