Probation violations, otherwise known as VOPs, often result in jail or prison sentences. Retained defense lawyers often claim they will put up a fight and then merely settle in the hopes of getting an acceptable sentence. A top violation of probation defense attorney will seize every opportunity to get charges dismissed and keep a client out of jail.
“What is a probation violation?”
In Michigan, Judges order those convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges to follow specific rules, do various things, and refrain from specified conduct during a time of court supervision. A judge can order probation instead of jail or in combination with a term of incarceration.
Probation can be reporting, where you meet or talk with a probation officer periodically, or non-reporting, where there is no obligation to check in with a probation agent.
Some judges impose fair and reasonable conditions of probation. On the other hand, less merciful judges use probation as an opportunity to set up a defendant for an eventual violation by imposing overly technical and challenging requirements.
“What are the common terms of probation?”
A judge’s imagination only limits the potential terms and conditions of probation. With limited exceptions, judges can order defendants to do many things, refrain from certain activities, and pay vast sums of fines, costs, and supervision fees.
Examples of some standard terms and conditions of probation include:
- reporting to a probation officer periodically,
- refraining from drug and alcohol use,
- testing for drug and alcohol use,
- various forms of offense-specific counseling or programs,
- community service,
- organized community work programs,
- educational programs,
- tether and home confinement,
- jail time (usually less than one year),
- no contact with co-defendants or victims,
- prohibition on obtaining or using credit,
- limited use of medications (such as opiates and marijuana),
- limitations on travel,
- prohibitions against the use or possession of firearms,
- payment of restitution,
- restrictions on using electronic devices, like computers, cell phones, and tablets, and
- limitations on social media or internet use.
“What is the sentence for violation of probation?”
The maximum jail or prison sentence for a violation of probation is the same as the maximum sentence on the original charge. A violation of probation is not a new case or a new conviction; instead, a violation of probation sentence is a resentencing on the original charge. In felony cases, the sentencing guidelines still apply to a sentence for probation violation. In the case of a misdemeanor probation violation, the maximum would typically be either 93 days or up to 1 year. In felony cases, the maximum sentence would be a term of imprisonment in the Michigan Department of Corrections up to the highest sentence permitted by law for the original conviction offense.
“Will I get jail for a first violation of probation?”
Not necessarily. Even in cases where judges have guaranteed defendants jail or prison time if they return to court with a probation violation, great lawyers can find ways to help clients avoid seemingly inevitable incarceration. Successfully representing a client on a probation violation and achieving an extraordinary result takes tremendous experience, skill, and expertise. Most retained criminal defense lawyers rely on strategies limited to arguments made in court. The best violation of probation defense lawyers challenge every aspect of a probation violation using a multi-tiered approach. Top lawyers will not only fight a violation; they will simultaneously and proactively work to mitigate any sentence.
“If my case is under advisement, will a conviction go on my record?”
Possibly. If a person’s case is under advisement based on a statute, such as HYTA, 769.4a, 7411, or a delayed sentence under MCR 771.1, the judge will have the option of entering a conviction and canceling the advisement or deferral status. Lawyers with a track record of successfully representing clients charged with probation violations will employ strategies to convince a judge not to enter a conviction, even if he or she finds there has been a violation.
“What if I am wrongfully accused of a probation violation?”
If the judge or probation department accuses you of violating probation, you are entitled to a hearing before a judge. To be found in violation of probation, the judge must find by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated a term or condition listed on your Order of Probation or Judgment of Sentence. A preponderance of the evidence means “more likely than not.”
“If a warrant has been issued against me for violation of probation, should I go to court or try to avoid being arrested for as long as possible?”
If the court has issued a warrant for your arrest, it is probably best to hire a lawyer and arrange for a court appearance as soon as possible. Warrants never expire and will have to be dealt with at some point. The longer the delay, the more likely a judge will be to impose jail time as a penalty. In most cases, judges want to set a precedent that if you have a warrant, you should get to court as soon as possible. By more severely punishing those who delay coming to court, they hope to motivate others to resolve their cases more promptly.
“What can the judge sentence me to if he finds that I violated probation?
Jail or prison may be imposed for a probation violation. In addition to incarceration, a judge may also impose new terms and conditions of probation, fines and costs, additional time on probation, remove advisement status and enter a conviction, and more.
“Do I need a lawyer for a misdemeanor probation violation? What about a felony violation of probation?”
Regardless of whether a probation violation is on a felony or misdemeanor case, a top defense attorney is your best hope of avoiding jail, prison, new terms and conditions of probation, and new fines and costs. There are different calibers of defense lawyers, often charging a variety of different fees for representation on probation violations. Better lawyers produce better results, and your lawyer may be the difference between a harsh sentence and a second chance. Don’t trust your fate to the lowest bidder; you get what you pay for.
“Why should I hire LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. for a probation violation?”
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has developed an unparalleled track record of success defending clients charged with probation violation. We routinely achieve extraordinary results for clients charged with a first violation, or after one or more previous violations. We use a team approach to simultaneously attack probation violation allegations and develop persuasive arguments to lessen any sentence the judge may impose. When other lawyers believe jail is inevitable, we frequently find a way to avoid it.
Call us at (248) 263-6800 or Complete a Request or Assistance Form, and we will promptly contact you.