Probation Violations, Penalties, and Consequences

Many judges are inclined to order jail time for a probation violation; however, jail and other harsh penalties can often be avoided. Here is what you need to know.

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A Probation Violation Does Not Have to Result in Jail Time

Most criminal cases in Michigan result in probation. Probation is where a court’s probation department supervises defendants to ensure they comply with the judge’s terms and conditions. In theory, supervision is supposed to ensure the defendant stays on a path toward rehabilitation. Probation terms and conditions can vary widely based on the judge, the court, the conviction offense, and the defendant’s current and past circumstances. Although the possible penalties for probation violation in Michigan are the same as for the original offense, a persuasive defense lawyer can often persuade a judge to consider lenient alternatives such as a warning, dismissal, or a fine. Probation violations are sometimes called violations of probation, PVs, or VOPs.

How Defense Lawyers Fight Probation Violations

When you’re on probation, the stakes are always high, and the possible penalties for a violation can be severe. A single misstep or misunderstanding can lead to a probation violation, potentially resulting in severe consequences, including jail time. However, a probation violation is not the end of the road. As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we have a toolkit of strategies to fight probation violations on behalf of our clients. Our team has an unparalleled track record of achieving extraordinary results. Here’s how we do it:

1. Understanding the Specifics of the Violation

First and foremost, we dive deep into the details of the alleged violation. Probation terms can be complex and vary widely from case to case. Understanding the specifics is crucial in formulating a defense. Was it a technical violation, like missing a meeting with a probation officer, or something more serious? Each scenario requires a different approach. A technical violation has lower potential probation violation penalties than a non-technical violation.

2. Gathering Evidence and Witnesses

Just like in a trial, evidence is key in probation violation hearings. We gather all relevant evidence to build a strong case. This might include documentation, surveillance footage, or witness statements that support your version of events or demonstrate your compliance with probation terms.

3. Negotiating with Probation Officers and Prosecutors

In many cases, open communication and negotiation can resolve issues without the need for a hearing. We have extensive experience negotiating with probation officers and prosecutors to find a solution that avoids further penalties. Because our attorneys are widely known and respected, probation officers and prosecutors listen to and work with us to find fair, helpful, negotiated resolutions.

4. Challenging the Evidence

If the case goes to a hearing, we are prepared to rigorously challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution and probation department. This can involve questioning the accuracy of reports, the reliability of witnesses, or the legality of how evidence was obtained.

5. Presenting Mitigating Circumstances

Life is complex, and sometimes, there are valid reasons for a violation. To provide a fuller picture of the situation, we present mitigating circumstances that might have led to the violation, such as medical emergencies, financial challenges, addiction, or unavoidable personal crises. A credible mitigating argument can be a powerful defense, even before Michigan’s harshest judges.

6. Utilizing Legal Defenses

Depending on the case, there may be specific legal defenses available. For instance, if you were accused of violating probation by committing a new crime, we can defend you against those charges just as we would in a separate criminal case. Any defense that applies to a new misdemeanor or felony charge also applies to a probation violation. Suppose, for example, someone is charged with domestic violence and plans to argue self-defense. In this case, self-defense is also a defense to a probation violation based on the new arrest and charge. If you have a valid defense, you can entirely avoid penalties for probation violation.

7. Advocating for Alternatives to Incarceration

If a probation violation is proven, we advocate for alternatives to incarceration and other harsh penalties, such as extended probation, community service, or rehabilitation programs. Our goal is always to minimize the impact on your life and help you move forward.

8. Preparing You for the Hearing

We don’t just represent you; we prepare you. This includes coaching on presenting yourself, what to expect during the hearing, and effectively communicating your side of the story.

Being accused of a probation violation can be daunting, but you’re not without defense. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side, you can fight back and protect your future. Remember, a violation doesn’t automatically mean a return to jail; with the right strategy, navigating these challenges is possible.

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Penalties for Probation Violation

In Michigan, probation is often seen as a second chance for those convicted of a crime, an opportunity to serve a sentence outside the confines of jail or prison. However, this opportunity comes with strict guidelines and requirements. Violating probation terms can lead to serious penalties, and understanding these is crucial for anyone on probation.

When a probation violation is alleged, the consequences depend heavily on the nature of the violation, the individual’s criminal history, and the court’s discretion. Common penalties include extending the probation period, increasing supervision, adding more stringent conditions, or, in more severe cases, revocation of probation and imposition of a jail sentence.

With top probation violation defense lawyers such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., courts in Michigan may opt for leniency for minor infractions. This might involve a warning or a slight modification of probation terms. However, it’s important to note that repeated minor violations, such as filing to appear for a meeting, paying assessed fines, or not completing a program on a timely basis, can lead to harsher penalties. On the other hand, serious violations like committing a new crime or repeatedly failing to comply with the conditions of probation are taken more seriously. In these cases, a judge may decide to revoke probation entirely.

It’s also worth noting that the process for handling probation violations differs from a typical criminal trial. The standard of proof is lower; rather than proving guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the prosecution only needs to show a “preponderance of evidence” that a violation occurred. This makes it easier for a violation to be established in court.

What To Do If You Face a Probation Violation

If you are on probation through a court and believe you may be in trouble with probation, it is critical that you speak with a qualified, respected lawyer if you hope to avoid potential penalties. While PVs and other charges share many similarities in how the court handles them, the biggest problem for you is where the burden lies. A top probation violation attorney with decades of experience gives you the best chance of dismissal and avoiding jail time. Top lawyers maintain excellent relationships with and are respected by judges, probation officers, and prosecutors. A savvy, respected lawyer will be given the benefit of the doubt when negotiating on your behalf for a dismissal or reduction in the violation charges or a reduction in the possible penalties.

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The Burden Has Shifted Since Your Conviction

In a criminal case where a defendant faces criminal charges, the prosecution is tasked with proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a high burden and is only met if the finder of fact decides that no reasonable person could have reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. However, guilt in a probation violation hearing must merely be demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the judge will weigh the evidence for and against equally and decide which possibility is most likely.

Although this sounds like it should be a 50/50 burden, the burden is really on you. Judges know and work with their probation departments daily. They rely on them to provide pre-sentence investigation reports, and it’s not uncommon for judges to sentence defendants according to the probation department’s recommendations. It would be best to have a persuasive, zealous advocate to get a fair shake and avoid the potential probation violation penalty. Regardless of the probation department’s recommendation, a judge can consider various probation violation penalties, including permitting the defendant to remain on probation without sanction or even discharge them from probation altogether.

A Plan Designed For Your Case

Whether you feel that you did or did not violate the terms of your probation, we can help you! Every case is different, and you need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process and avoid the potential penalties for a probation violation. If you plan to fight the allegations or seek reduced penalties, you need a skilled, experienced attorney to help build your case. If you plan to plead guilty, you need an attorney to keep the process fair.

Remember, the burden weighs heavier on you now, and bringing a strong case in your defense is essential. You need an attorney to communicate with the court staff, strategize with you, and persuasively advocate on your behalf.

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Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb County Probation Violation Attorneys

The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience representing clients who have faced probation violations in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, and throughout Michigan. They know the courts, law, and players and get probation violation penalties and charges reduced. If you have been charged with a violation or fear that a charge is coming, call us for a free consultation, and we will take the time to talk with you, answer all of your probation violation questions, and address each of your concerns. We will find a way to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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