You Do Not Have to Go to Jail or Prison Because of a Violation of Probation

By May 29, 2014 January 9th, 2020 blog post

If your lawyer is telling you that you have to go to jail because of a VOP, you need a new lawyer. Don’t get sold out! You deserve a lawyer who will aggressively and effectively fight for you!

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Lewis & Dickstein PLLC

You do not have to go to jail for violation of probation.  The criminal defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. represent clients on violations of probation (VOP) in misdemeanor and felony cases throughout Michigan. We appear on probation violations frequently in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Livingston County, Washtenaw County, and Southeastern Michigan in general.

What is the worst thing that can happen?

In any violation of probation, the defendant faces a sentence at the maximum possible sentence that could have been given on the original charge. For example, a violation on a 93-day misdemeanor can result in a sentence of up to 93 days in jail (with credit for time served). If the original charge was a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, for example, the violator could receive a sentence in prison with a minimum of no greater than 2/3 of the maximum and up to a maximum of four years in prison (otherwise known as a term of years).

Any sentence to prison in Michigan that is not a sentence to life, must be a “term of years.” A “term of years” means that there is a minimum to the sentence and a maximum to the sentence, for example, one-to-four years in prison. A one-to-four year sentence means that the defendant will be eligible for parole after one year. If the defendant is not released on parole, he or she cannot be kept in prison longer than the four-year maximum. As mentioned above, the rule in Michigan is that the minimum time cannot exceed 2/3 of the maximum time. Sticking with the example of a felony with a four-year (48 month) maximum, the highest possible minimum on the sentence would be 2/3 of four years or 32 months, e.g., 32 months to 48 months.

Are there limits on what the judge can do? Yes!

A judge on a violation of probation for a felony is constrained by the Michigan Sentence Guidelines when fashioning a sentence. The sentencing guidelines for the VOP are whatever the sentencing guidelines were for the original offense at the time of the original sentencing. A sentencing judge can exceed the sentencing guidelines if doing so is “reasonable.” At the same time, a persuasive criminal defense lawyer can convince a judge to sentence a client below the sentencing guidelines if it is “reasonable” to do so for a violation of probation. If a judge guaranteed jail or prison, if there is a violation, don’t believe it.  Judges frequently boast about “fire and brimstone” style sentences if the defendant violates probation; however, a great lawyer may have the ability to convince the judge that an alternative sentence makes more sense.

Are there alternatives to jail?

Yes! All of this being said, a jail or prison is not necessary if there is a conviction for violation of probation. When the attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. represent clients on VOP’s we have a strategy that has been developed over the course of many years to avoid incarceration if possible and minimize other potential consequences. We work with experts in a variety of fields who cooperate with us in developing mitigating evidence that can be used when attempting to convince a judge to find an alternative to jail or prison. We also carefully examine every aspect of our client’s case, their lives, and their other personal circumstances to develop the most persuasive argument possible for a lenient sentence, a delayed sentence, and in many cases, a DISMISSAL of the violation of probation.

Another strategy that is only possible with a retained lawyer is to negotiate and coordinate with the probation officer or probation supervisor to provide helpful information, to negotiate a favorable recommendation, to discuss a reduction in the probation violation allegations, or to seek a dismissal of the violation prior to the probation violation hearing.

An experienced Violation of Probation Defense Attorney can help you.

Over several decades of providing top quality criminal defense, we have taken time to carefully study the judges and probation officers throughout Michigan to learn what factors are consistently most persuasive with each individual jurist and what factors the judges find most damaging. We can fully customize the defense for each particular client to maximize his chances of success based on the individual proclivities of the assigned individual judge. In some cases, we can try to get the violation dismissed, and in others, we can fight for an acquittal at a violation of probation hearing.  If there is no reasonable alternative to a conviction, we can work with the judge, probation and the prosecutor to fashion a sentence that is as lenient as possible.

Call Us Today to Avoid Jail or Prison for Violation of Probation

We are always happy to consult with anyone who is facing a violation of probation anywhere in Michigan. If there is a way to help someone, and there almost always is, we will find it.

Call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer will promptly contact you.