Whether you are convicted of a criminal offense or plead guilty in court, one alternative to jail or prison time is probation. A judge can suspend the sentence and place the individual on probation for a specific period of time with conditions that the probationer must meet to avoid serving their sentence.
Although probation is the more preferred option compared to being behind bars, it is not so simple. There are many pitfalls that can lead to more legal trouble, which is why it is best to be aware of them and prevent making a costly mistake.
The most common ways people violate probation include:
- Miss an appointment with your probation officer - Under supervised probation, you must meet with your probation officer on a routine basis, according to the officer's schedule. If you miss an appointment, this constitutes a probation violation and your probation officer could file a report with the court.
- Miss a court hearing - You may be ordered to attend court hearings, where a judge reviews the progress of your probation. If you miss the court hearing, this would be a serious violation of your probation.
- Go to another state - While many people understand that they cannot leave the country while on probation, they are not allowed to cross state lines either. You can't just travel on your own free will, or else this action can land you back in the courtroom.
- Fail to pay a fine - When you are ordered to pay a fine or restitution, you need to fulfill these obligations on time. Failure to pay a court fine, or paying one late, isn't the same as missing or paying a utility bill late. You could face increased fines and even imprisonment.
- Visit specific people or places - One term on your probation could be to remain at a distance from certain places or people associated with criminal activity (i.e. gang members) and those with criminal records. The reason being that association with such individuals could negatively affect your rehabilitation.
- Lose your job - Another term could remain employed or enrolled in school. If you lose your job while on probation, this change could impact your probation status.
- Commit another crime - Being charged with another crime is a surefire way to violate your probation and get sent to jail or prison.
If you violate a term of your probation, you will be required to attend another court hearing. It is important to seek legal counsel from a skilled criminal defense attorney to ensure you remain on probation and avoid suffering further penalties.
For more information, contact Wilfert Law P.C. and schedule a free consultation with our Ventura criminal defense lawyer today.