Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Probation Violations in California

Posted on: February 4, 2009 at 8:13 a.m.

In the California legal system, probation violations are a serious matter that can carry severe penalties. In the wake of a criminal conviction, instead of time served in prison, a court may assess either formal or informal probation to a defendant depending on the crime that was committed. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who have first hand experience with probation understand that even under the best conditions, probation is a challenging situation.

Formal Probation, or Supervised Probation, requires that a defendant meet with an assigned probation officer at regularly scheduled meetings for the duration of the probationary period. Informal Probation, or Summary Probation, doesnt require regular meetings with an assigned probation officer, but it does require that the defendant complete certain terms of sentence and to stay out of further trouble for a specified period of time. Both Formal and Informal Probation generally require either community service, drug testing, counseling, physical labor or any combination of the four. The length of the probationary period generally varies depending on the offense committed as well as the ability of the Los Angeles probation attorney to properly negotiate and work with the judge and prosecutor.

Any number things can count as a probation violation but some of the most common are failure to pay, comply, report or appear, violation of terms, possession of illegal substances, committing another crime and, finally, being arrested. A failure to pay violation is assessed when the defendant does not pay either fines or restitution required by the court. Failure to comply occurs when a defendant fails to complete their terms of probation such as rehabilitation or community service. Failure to report or appear occurs when a defendant does not show up for a scheduled meeting either with the court or their probation officer. In terms of probation violations, if a defendant is found in possession of illegal substances such as drugs or weapons, then the defendant has incurred a probation violation. Since probation is issued in lieu of prison time in a criminal conviction, the goal is obviously for the defendant to be on their best behavior during their probation; hence, being arrested and committing crimes are also considered serious probation violations.

If you are found to have violated the terms of your probation, a number of penalties can be assessed depending on the severity of the violation. This is when having a skilled criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles who is experienced with probation comes in handy. When a violation occurs, the defendant on probation is usually arrested and brought to court for a probation violation hearing. The Judge and prosecutor will take several factors into account when determining what the penalty of the violation should be including the nature and seriousness of the violation, whether or not there is a history of previous probation violations, any new criminal activity stemming from the violation, whether the violation occurred at the beginning or end of the probationary period, the probation officers view of the violation and any mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation. Penalties for probation violation include, but are not limited to: an extension of the probationary period, an amendment of probation terms, revocation of probation and possible time in prison. In such a serious matter, finding a knowledgeable, competent attorney to aggressively represent you is of utmost importance. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will help you avoid an extension of the probationary period or the possibility of prison time.

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