Understanding Probation Violations in California

A probation violation occurs when you break the conditions of probation. This may result in serious punishment, depending upon the nature and gravity of the violation, whether or not this is your first violation, and whether there are factors that may lessen or increase the severity of the situation. The penalties that may result include (but are not limited to) extended probation period, incarceration, or monetary fines. Probation is part of the sentencing process in California, and can be a privilege that allows you to avoid or shorten jail time. The goal of probation is to rehabilitate an offender. California Penal Code 1203 is the governing law, which provides California judges with broad discretion to set probation terms on a case by case basis. Some common probation terms include:

  •         Monetary fines
  •         Abstaining from alcohol or drug use, participation in a drug or alcohol program, or drug or alcohol testing
  •         Ignition interlock or SCRAM Device installation
  •         Therapy
  •         Community Service
  •         Requirement to remain law abiding for the duration of probation.

There are two kinds of probation – misdemeanor and felony probation. Common probation violations include missing a court date, failing a drug test, failing to report to your probation officer, or breaking the law.

What happens if you Violate your Probation?

If you are suspected of probation violation, you may be arrested by your probation officer or a police officer, or the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. You are then entitled to a Probation Violation Hearing, where a judge will hear your case to determine whether you in fact violated probation, and the corresponding sentence. A defendant in a probation violation hearing has similar rights to a defendant in a criminal trial, including: the right to receive written notice of the violations against you,  representation by an attorney, to have your case presided by a neutral, unbiased judge, to testify, present evidence, and subpoena witnesses to support your case.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will determine whether you violated the terms of your probation, and the sentence. The judge considers your criminal history, the length of your probation and how far into it the terms were broken, the gravity of the violation, and any recommendations from your probation officer. After weighing these factors, the judge may reinstate probation on the same or similar terms, modify probation with more harsh terms, or revoke probation and sentence you to jail time.

Get Legal Help

If you are in violation of your probation terms, having an experienced attorney on your side can help negotiate a favorable settlement or mitigate your punishment. The Law Offices of Sean F. Leslie will fight to reinstate probation on the same terms without any additional penalties. If you are falsely accused of violating the terms of your probation, we will have a full hearing to demonstrate the lack of a violation. If you have any questions regarding probation terms or violation of probation in California, contact the Law Offices of Sean F. Leslie. We can help you understand the law as well as your rights and obligations during your probationary term.