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Probation Violation Defense

When you are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor your sentence will likely require that you spend some time on probation. While on probation there are certain rules that will apply to you. These rules are enforced by your probation officer. If you break one of these rules, then you will have “violated” your probation. When probation rules are violated your probation office, or the prosecutors, may file a petition to violate your probation. If someone files a petition to revoked your probation, then you will be facing an arrest warrant and the possibility of heading back to jail.

There are three different ways you can violate probation

  1. Technical Violation.
  2. Violation of Special Condition of Probation.
  3. Substantive Violations.

Technical Violations of Probation

How Does a Technical Violation Happen?

A technical violation of probation is the least serious of the violations. A technical violation often occurs when someone forgets or cannot afford to pay their fines or fees. They may fail to report to their probation officer or leave the jurisdiction.

 How Much Time Can I Get for a Violation?

The maximum punishment for a technical violation of probation is two years in confinement. This does not, however, mean that you must get two years – it is simply the maximum. There are less serious punishments that may be an option for those accused of a technical violation. For instance, if you are simply  behind on your fees, then paying those fees can go a long way in preventing incarceration.

 Violations of Special Conditions of Probation.

What Conditions of Probation are Special?

There are over thirty special conditions of probation in Georgia. They include:

  1. Restitution
  2. Reporting to the Probation Office
  3. Performing Community Service
  4. Probation Management Act Sentencing Options System
  5. Requirements that Probationer complete an Accountability Court
  6. Probation Detention Center
  7. Diversion Center
  8. Boot Camp
  9. RSAT a/k/a Regional Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (Prison Rehab)
  10. Day Reporting Center
  11. Fourth Amendment Waiver
  12. Provide Bodily Specimen
  13. Limited or No Contact with person or persons
  14. No harassment or threats toward person or persons
  15. Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP)
  16. Mental Health or Substance Abuse evaluation and treatment
  17. Records Release (driving, medical, treatment, work, criminal history)
  18. 12-Step Meetings
  19. Obtain High School Diploma
  20. Obtain a GED
  21. Obtain a Training certificate.
  22. Abide by a Curfew
  23. Banished from a County or Judicial Circuit
  24. Give Up a Driver's License
  25. Ignition Interlock
  26. Electronic Monitoring Device
  27. Provide DNA Sample – felonies – OCGA 35-3-160
  28. Sex Offender Special Conditions
  29. Offense Against a Minor or Dangerous Sexual Offense Special Conditions
  30. Special Conditions for Stalking or Aggravated Stalking
  31. No Contact with Criminal Street Gang Activity
  32. Testify Truthfully
  33. Special Drug Crime Condition
  34. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Why are Special Conditions Special? 

There is one thing that sets special conditions apart from all the others. A violation of a special conditions comes with very serious consequences. A violation of a special condition can result in the balance of your probation being revoked. For instance, if you are sentenced to 10 years to be served on probation and the day after you begin probation you fail to abide by one of these special conditions the judge could send you to prison for the remainder of the ten-year term.

Substantive Violation of Probation

What is a Substantive Violation?

A substantive violation of probation happens when you commit another crime while on probation. No matter what the criminal charge, if you get a new charge, then you have committed a substantive violation.

How Much Time Can You Get for a Substantive Violation?

If your new charge is a misdemeanor, then you the court may revoke up to two years of your probation. Meaning, that you would have to serve two years in incarceration.

No matter what the violation, there is a process that takes place. Generally, the first step is that a warrant is taken out for your arrest. Eventually, you will be arrested on that warrant. Just because you have been arrested, however, does not mean the judge just gets to send you to prison because you have been accused of violating probation.

 After you are arrested then you have a right to a hearing on your probation violation. At this hearing you will have the ability to be represented by a lawyer. You can challenge any of the state's evidence against you and cross-examine witnesses the state calls against you. Additionally, you can testify, challenge the state's evidence, and present your own evidence. You do not, however, have the right to have a jury hear your probation violation case.

At this hearing the burden of proof is on the State of Georgia and the local prosecutors. For instance, in the Coweta Judicial Circuit, a Coweta Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney will conduct the hearing on behalf of the state. They will have to prove to the judge by a preponderance of the evidence that you committed the violation of probation they have alleged. Preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not, or that there is 50.01% chance or better that you violated your probation. This is a much lower burden for the local prosecutors than beyond a reasonable doubt which is usually used in criminal cases.

It is critical to protect yourself against a possible probation violation. Allow a criminal defense attorney to negotiate with State prosecutors and being preparation for any potential probation revocation hearing. Please, contact us today.