Probation is generally a more desirable sentence than jail time, but it’s imperative that you honor the conditions you’re given. Probation may require you to perform community service and appear in court among other specifications.
Violating probation in Arizona is a serious offense. If you’ve been placed on probation and don’t comply with the court-ordered terms, you might face fines and even jail or prison time. Even if you didn’t actually commit the offense or your original conviction was weak, failing to follow court orders could result in a probation violation.
Probation violations are common, but they come with serious consequences that you should be aware of. The law is complex and ever-changing, so working with a legal expert is best if you need help with a violation.
Understanding Probation Violations in Arizona
- If you commit a minor probation violation, you may get off with a warning
- In other cases, your probation officer will request for the court to revoke your probation
- Violations include failing a drug test, falling behind on fines, committing another crime, and more
- Speaking with a lawyer is essential if you want to reach a favorable outcome with your case
If you’re accused of any of these violations (or others not mentioned), the court will take action. The seriousness of the violation and the discretion of your probation officer will determine the consequences.
Types of Probation Violations
A probation violation happens any time someone violates their probation terms. The terms can include rules for what to do or not do. Here are some common violations to be aware of:
- Committing another offense
- Failure to go to counseling
- A positive, diluted, or missed drug test
- Failing to pay fines or fees or to follow a court order
- Drinking when your probation instructs you not to
- Failure to report to the judge or your probation officer
- Removing a court-ordered security monitoring device
- Failure to show up in court at the scheduled time and date
- Speaking to a specific person who you aren’t allowed to contact
- Falling behind on fees, fines, community service, or restitution.
Probation terms are typically the same length as the jail sentence they are replacing but might last longer. Usually, a probation term will last no longer than a few years, but it’s up to the judge’s discretion. Some offenders receive lifelong probation after committing certain felony crimes.
Penalties for Violating Probation
If you break your probation and it’s a first-time offense or minor violation, you might just receive a warning from your probation officer. In other cases, you’ll get a harsher probation term, larger fines, and other penalties like house arrest. Otherwise, the officer can request that the court revoke your probation, in which case you’d be asked to go to court.
At the violation hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to bring witnesses in to discuss the potential violation and original probation terms. If you were convicted of a felony and received probation, it may be extended by 2 years for a misdemeanor charge and 5 years for a felony.
Possible Defenses for Violating Probation
A common probation violation is failure to meet with your probation officer. But having a valid reason (such as a medical emergency) for missing a meeting can be a valid defense. As mentioned, failing to pay your fees and fines can result in a probation violation. If this applies to you, using financial records to prove that you did your best to keep up with payments could help your case.
In some cases, showing that you’ve been on good behavior (apart from the violation) throughout your probation could help you avoid extra penalties. If you’re facing probation revocation or violated your probation terms, working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is essential. They can help you increase your odds of a favorable outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions on Probation
Here are some commonly asked questions related to probation:
Q: Can I get my probation reduced?
If you’ve already completed part of your probation without any violations or incidents, you may be able to request a removal or reduction of the terms. Ask your attorney if there’s anything you can do to build an argument, and keep in mind that the judge will have the final say.
Q: Are parole and probation the same thing?
While parole and probation are similar, they aren’t the same. Probation is a sentence that you serve, and parole is given after you’ve already served part of your sentence.
Q: What does a probation officer do?
When you receive probation, you’ll also get an assigned probation officer who will keep tabs on you. A probation sentence will usually involve regular meetings with the officer to show that you are complying with the terms. If you received a substance-related offense, you may have to submit mandatory drug tests during the meetings.
Q: What do probation conditions usually look like?
It will always vary according to the sentence, but each probation sentence aims to keep the offender from violating the law again. If you, for example, committed a crime with a specific person, you might be forbidden from seeing that person for the duration of your probation sentence. You may also be asked to stay within state boundaries, pay fines, and avoid intoxication.
Q: What if my probation was revoked?
Upon a revoked probation, the judge has multiple options for sentencing. They may give you additional fines, add time to your probation sentence, or require you to attend a treatment program. In other cases, the judge may require you to spend time in jail.
What to Do if You’re Facing Probation Violation Charges in Arizona
If you’ve violated your probation sentence, you might be facing serious consequences. Not only do violations often come with hefty fines, but you may have to serve time in jail. Working with a criminal defense attorney is a good way to find out what your options are for reducing your penalties. They can help you assess your situation and come up with a suitable action plan for your case.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.