Many people benefit from receiving probation instead of serving a term of imprisonment upon a criminal conviction. Probation is a common alternative to jail time if a defendant agrees to a plea deal or if a judge decides to suspend a jail sentence for a first offender, among other circumstances. While probation keeps you out of jail, it is not a simple situation, and probation often requires that you abide by many terms and conditions before you complete your term.
Many people run into problems during their probation and face accusations of probation violations. These are serious matters, as a violation can result in the court revoking your probation and requiring you to serve your jail sentence.
If the police arrested you for a probation violation in New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible. Call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, for the assistance you need.
The New Jersey Courts Office of Probation Services oversees various probation programs, including adult probation supervision and the intensive supervision program. Upon your sentencing, the court should give you information about how to immediately report to the nearest probation office straight from your hearing. You will receive an assigned probation officer who will oversee your case.
Some probation conditions are set by the court and you may have to agree to specific conditions as part of a plea deal with the prosecutor. Other conditions may be set by the probation officer after they review the details of your case. Some common conditions permitted under New Jersey probation law NJ Rev Stat § 2C:45-1 (2013) include:
- Reporting to the probation officer at regular intervals.
- Not using illegal drugs or alcohol.
- Submitting to drug or alcohol tests.
- Attending drug or alcohol treatment.
- Obeying a curfew.
- Electronic monitoring.
- Completing all required community service.
- Paying all required fines, court costs, and restitution.
- Paying all probation fees.
- Not violating any traffic or criminal laws.
- Not possessing firearms.
While staying out of trouble, attending probation meetings, and paying your fines may seem worth it to avoid jail time, many people have difficulty remaining in compliance with all their probation conditions. This can lead to an arrest, a probation violation hearing, and potentially serious consequences.
Probation Violation Hearings
When your probation officer thinks you are in violation of the conditions of your probation, they have different options. If it is a relatively minor matter, they may address the matter with you directly in their office. If you failed to report or they suspect a serious violation, they can report it to the court that handled your criminal case. The court may then issue a warrant for your arrest.
If the police arrest you, you do not have the right to bail and may stay in jail until your probation revocation hearing. The hearing will usually be in front of the judge who sentenced you and will involve a prosecutor and your probation officer.
Your probation officer will tell the court why they believe you violated your probation, and a violation does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge (not a jury) will determine whether a violation occurred and will decide what consequences you will face for the violation.
Probation Violation Penalties
The penalties for a probation violation will depend on the nature of the violation. Some common consequences include:
- Increasing the term of your probation.
- Switching you from unsupervised to supervised probation.
- Changing the conditions of your probation, including adding drug tests, or treatment.
- “Shock time,” which is a short period in jail before you can continue with your probation.
- Revoking your probation completely and requiring you to serve the suspended jail sentence.
While many probation violations may lead to the revocation of your probation, this does not have to be the result. There are other options for court-imposed penalties, and you should have a defense attorney who knows how to negotiate with the prosecutor and the court to help keep you out of jail.
Probation hearings are quite different from regular criminal cases. You do not have the right to a jury trial and the prosecutor’s burden of proof is substantially lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Because you do not have the traditional protections under the law, you need to make sure you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows how to protect your rights.
We often help to provide explanations for violations, present mitigating factors, and offer alternative solutions to revocation and a jail sentence.
For example, if your violation involved alcohol or drugs, we can try to change your conditions to include stricter alcohol and drug monitoring or treatment, as that will provide greater benefits than being behind bars. Our goal is to keep you on probation and out of jail whenever possible.
Many probation violations stemming from an arrest on suspicion of criminal activity. For example, if you are on probation and the police arrest you for theft, you can face new charges for the theft crime as well as a hearing for possible probation revocation. You then face possible penalties in each case.
Hire a defense attorney who can both defend against your new criminal charges and represent you in your probation hearings. We can fight against revocation, as well as a probation sentence for your new charges. If the judge revokes your probation and you receive a jail sentence in your new case, we can fight for the court to allow you to serve your sentences at the same time, instead of one after the other.
There are many different ways that the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, can work to obtain the most favorable outcome possible in your probation violation case. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorney regularly handles all types of matters, including violations of probation. If you’re facing such a charge, please call us at: (856) 310-9800 or contact us online.