Ventura Probation Violation Attorneys
Fighting to Protect Clients Accused of Violating Their Probation
Probation agreements are often instituted in California in lieu of a harsher sentence. In many situations, it helps Californians avoid jailtime. In exchange for this leniency, courts will expect complete compliance with the terms of the probation. Probationary measures can take many forms, including court-ordered fines and restitution to victims, mandatory counseling or volunteer work, or regular check-ins with a probation officer. Failing to live up to your obligations in a probation agreement can open you up to new, serious charges. This can include a warrant being issued for your arrest.
Persons charged with probation violation are likely to be placed under increased scrutiny by the court system. If you have been taken into custody as a result of a probation violation, it is imperative you contact our team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP. Our Ventura probation violation lawyers can evaluate the facts of your situation and swiftly work to resolve the matter as efficiently and with as few consequences as possible. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience and are familiar with how to handle probation violation cases of any type and complexity.
Types of Probation
When you are convicted of a crime, the judge involved in your case will decide the specifics of your sentencing in accordance with state law. If certain eligibility requirements are met, they are permitted to institute probation instead of the recommended sentence. In formal terms, this is when a judge “suspends” the imposition of the sentence you would have otherwise received.
There are two types of probation in California. It is important to understand which is relevant to you, as it can determine how violations can happen.
Summary probation, also called “informal” probation, has terms that do not include regular, mandatory meetings with a county probation officer. This tends to be used in conjunction with less serious underlying convictions.
Felony probation, or “formal” probation, requires you to meet with a county probation officer on a set schedule in addition to any other obligations. Your probation officer will track your progress and make sure you are fulfilling other requirements of the probation. As its name would imply, this type of probation tends to involve cases with felony convictions.
Many probations last between 3 and 5 years. In some situations, a judge can choose to institute probation for the maximum sentencing a person would have otherwise received. For example, if a person would have been subject to 10 years of jailtime, the court may determine they will be on probation for the equivalent time of 10 years.
How You Can Violate Probation
You should carefully review the specific terms of your probation agreement with your legal representation. Ask the court questions, if necessary, and ensure you fully understand what will be expected of you. Failure to adhere to the terms of the probation agreement will likely result in your being arrested, at which point you will face new charges, which could include the possibility of jailtime.
The specific terms of your probation agreement will depend on the nature of your underlying conviction. Your legal representation can in many cases negotiate some terms of probation, especially if they are found to be unreasonable.
Common examples of probation violations in California include:
- Failure to pay mandatory fines. Many probation agreements will include court-ordered fines and fees, which can include restitution payments to victims. These amounts must be paid in full by the deadline established by your agreement.
- Failure to appear at court hearings or meet with your county probation officer. If you are on felony probation, you must not miss the regularly scheduled meetings with the officer assigned to your case. Should you be summoned to court for any reason, you must also make every effort to appear. Your absence, regardless of the reason, will likely result in a warrant for your arrest.
- Failure to follow instructions of your county probation officer. In your regular meetings, your officer may give you additional instructions or tasks to complete. You must treat these instructions as part of your probation agreement and follow them as requested.
- Failure to complete court-ordered counseling, treatment, or volunteer work. Depending on the nature of your underlying conviction, a probation agreement often requires the completion of counseling-based treatment or community-building volunteer work. Cases involving alcohol abuse may involve related counseling meetings, for example. Refusal to attend relevant meetings and complete coursework can be grounds for probation violation charges.
- Failure to pass or a refusal to take a drug test. Many drug crime-related convictions will mandate that you submit to regular drug tests. A refusal to take these tests or inability to pass them is considered a probation violation.
- Breaking the law. Any violation of the law other than a minor traffic infraction is considered a probation violation, even if the act has nothing to do with the underlying conviction. For example, if you are charged with theft while on probation for a DUI conviction, that crime is still considered a probation violation.
- Leaving the county, state, or country. Your probation agreement will likely include some restrictions on travel. This can include a ban from leaving the state or country or even your county of residence. “Absconding,” the formal name for violating these terms, is taken very seriously.
- Possession of contraband specified in your probation. Probation agreements tend to be tailored in an effort to prevent future similar crimes. If you were convicted of crime involving alcohol, for example, you will likely be barred from consuming or possessing alcoholic drinks for the duration of your probation.
- Violation of protective orders. Convictions stemming from domestic violence often involve protective orders or restraining orders that legally ban you from contacting or visiting the shielded parties. Violation of these orders also constitutes a violation of your probation.
- Violation of the terms of house arrest. In some situations, a person may be granted “house arrest” in lieu of jailtime. This typically requires the use of a monitoring device. Attempts to remove or tamper with an electronic monitoring device is considered a probation violation, even if you do not explicitly otherwise violate the terms of house arrest.
When the court learns or suspects you have violated one or more terms of your probation agreement, they are likely to issue a warrant for your arrest. Should a parole officer believe you have violated any term of your probation, they are in many cases authorized to arrest you without a warrant.
Following an arrest, you will be placed in custody ahead of a “revocation” hearing. This expedited process will involve a judge determining whether you violated any term of your probation. If you are found guilty, the judge can revoke your existing probation agreement. Remember, in many cases, the probation agreement is what is keeping you from serving prison time.
Once a judge has revoked an existing probation due to a violation, they have the following options:
- Restore the previous probation agreement with the same conditions. This is the best possible scenario, as you effectively are let off with a warning. Your probation agreement will continue as it was prior to the violation.
- Restore the previous probation agreement with modified conditions. The judge will sometimes continue to suspend your sentence but can change one or more terms of the probation. This will often result in certain restrictions becoming harsher. If you were not previously regularly meeting with a probation officer, for example, you may need to start.
- Impose the suspended sentence. A judge has the ability to revoke a probation agreement without replacement, instead choosing to enact the original suspended sentence resulting from your conviction.
- Impose a new, maximum sentence. In especially egregious cases, a judge will revoke both the probation agreement and the original sentencing. Instead, they can elect to impose the maximum, harshest sentence allowed by state law
In some cases, a judge may also require the serving of some prison time – typically up to 1 year – when a probation agreement is otherwise reinstated. You will need a strong legal advocate to best position yourself in a revocation hearing. Our Ventura probation violation attorneys can help argue your case before the court and move to request probation is restored.
Do Not Face a Probation Violation Alone
If you have been taken into custody as a result of a probation violation or suspect you will soon be arrested due to one, it is essential you immediately retain the services of qualified legal professionals. Our Ventura probation violation lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP have handled thousands of cases and are familiar with how to navigate revocation hearings. We can work to get your probation reinstated with as minimal impact to you as possible. Our team is compassionate to the stress that results from a probation violation and will do everything possible to protect your future.
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