Defense of Violations of Supervised Release and Federal Probation

Once a federal probation officer or the United States Attorney’s Office files a petition to revoke your supervised release or probation, you have a very serious situation.

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If a federal probation or supervised release petition is filed against you, you must appear before the court “without unnecessary delay,” Your lawyer can petition for you to be released on bail pending a revocation hearing. If probable cause is found that there was a violation of the terms or conditions of supervised release, the court “must hold the revocation hearing within a reasonable time.” Suppose the violation is based on a new criminal offense. In that case, it is the policy of the Sentencing Commission that any sentence for the violation must be consecutive to the sentence received for the new offense. Consecutive sentences are terms of imprisonment that are served one after the other instead of concurrent sentences that are served simultaneously.

Mandatory Grounds for Revocation of Supervised Release or Probation

The probation officer is required to petition for revocation when an alleged offender:

  • Possesses a controlled substance (some circumstances)
  • Unlawfully possesses a firearm
  • Refuses to comply with drug testing imposed as a condition of supervised release
  • Has four positive drug tests over the course of one year

Types of Supervised Release and Probation Violations

Grade A violation – Engaging in a federal, state, or local offense punishable by more than one year of imprisonment constitutes a crime of violence or drug trafficking or involves possession of a firearm or destructive device.

Grade B violation – Being charged with or convicted of other federal, state, or local offenses punishable by more than one year of imprisonment.

Grade C violation – An allegation of federal, state, or local offenses punishable by one year or less in prison or a violation of any other condition of supervision.

For a Grade A or B violation, the court must revoke probation or supervised release under federal law. In the case of a Grade C violation, revocation is discretionary. If there is more than one violation, the violation’s grade is determined by the violation having the most severe grade.

Violation Sentencing

The sentence violation on a Class A felony may be up to 5 years and 3 years on a Class B felony. For a Class C or D felony offense, the maximum is 2 years and up to 1 year on any other case. In the case of a Grade C violation, the probation officer has the discretion not to report the violation to the judge if the violation is minor, not part of a continuing pattern of violations, and not reporting will not present an undue risk to an individual or the public or be inconsistent with any directive of the court relative to the reporting of violations.

In the case of a second or subsequent Grace C violation, the Sentencing Guidelines’ commentary states that revocation of probation or supervised release is appropriate. The defendant does not get any credit for time served while waiting for the violation hearing or sentencing, unless the time was served solely for the alleged violation. Suppose the original sentence was based on a charge reduction or a sentence variance or departure under the Sentencing Guidelines. In that case, the commentary to the Sentencing Guidelines suggests that the judge should consider an upward departure on the violation sentence.

Where a defendant violates federal probation or supervised release by possessing a controlled substance or a firearm, the court is required to revoke probation or supervised release and impose a sentence that includes a term of imprisonment. On the other hand, if there is a violation based on a failed drug test, the court will consider whether the availability of appropriate substance abuse programs or the defendant’s current participation in treatment warrants an exception to the requirement for mandatory revocation and imprisonment.

Revocation Table
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Defense of Supervised Release Violation or Probation Violation

Judges in federal court take allegations of a violation exceptionally seriously. When many federal defense lawyers are too intimidated to handle allegations of a judge on a violation of probation or of supervised release, the defense team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is not afraid to fight to protect you and stand up against any challenge. If you are accused of a probation or supervised release violation on a federal felony or misdemeanor, please call us today, and we will find a way to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a 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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