Penal Code 1203.2 PC - Probation Violations in California
Probation is a commonly used sentencing option in California criminal law. It can be an effective way for defendants to avoid jail time and still pay their debt to society.
But when probationers fail to comply with the terms of their probation, they risk facing additional consequences under Penal Code 1203.2 PC—California's “probation violation” law.
Suppose a judge places you on formal probation (for felony offenses), summary probation (for misdemeanors), or DUI probation, and you commit another crime or violate the terms of probation.
In that case, you could face anything from stricter probation terms to revoking your probation and going to jail.
After a probationer is arrested and appears before the court, the judge can either release the probationer from custody or revoke and terminate their probation.
Simply put, a probation violation in California occurs when a defendant is convicted of a crime and placed on probation. Then they violate a specific term or condition of that probation.
As noted, Penal Code 1203.2 PC is the statute providing the rules for probation and probation violations in criminal cases, including misdemeanor summary probation, felony probation, and probation in driving under the influence (DUI) cases.
The language under this statute allows for the arrest of the probationer for the commission of a crime or violation of a probation condition, the termination of probation, imposing jail time, or stricter probation conditions. All of these issues are decided at a probation violation hearing.
You could be charged with a probation violation if the prosecuting attorney accuses you of violating one or more of the terms of your probation.
Under PC 1203.2, if you violate the terms of your probation in California, you might face serious consequences, such as losing your freedom. Let's review this subject in more detail below.
What Constitutes a Violation of Your Probation?
There are effectively two ways that you can violate your probation. They include the following below.
Committing a New Crime
One of the key provisions of your probation is that you will avoid any criminal activity. If you commit any offense, no matter how minor, your probation has been violated, and you may be subject to consequences.
Penal Code 1203.2a PC allows the arrest of any probationer if there is probable cause to believe they committed a crime or violated any term or condition of their probation. Of note is that the arrest can occur with or without a warrant.
Violating Other Specific Terms of Your Probation
When a judge puts you on probation, they typically lay out specific conditions you must meet as the terms of your probation.
These conditions are typically tailored to the person and the crime committed and are usually intended to be rehabilitative. Examples of probation conditions may include, but are not limited to:
- regular check-ins with your probation officer;
- fulfilling a certain number of hours of community service;
- attending individual or group therapy;
- completing a treatment program;
- paying fines or restitution to any victims of your crime;
- avoiding alcohol or drugs;
- obeying any restraining orders against you;
- agreeing to “search conditions” in which an officer may search your property without a warrant during your probation.
You may also be subject to regular or random drug testing while your probation is in effect for certain drug crimes.
For DUI probation, you must also submit to a breathalyzer or blood test if an officer asks you to take one during a traffic stop.
Outside of probation, you have the right to refuse this test; during DUI probation, you don't. Disobeying the court's probation conditions may result in a probation violation.
What Are Common Misdemeanor Probation Conditions?
- do not violate any laws,
- pay fines and or victim restitution;
- community service;
- seek employment;
- therapy sessions;
- subjected to a restraining order for domestic violence crimes.
What Are Common Felony Probation Conditions?
- you must not violate any laws;
- pay all fines and court costs;
- appear at all court hearings;
- monthly meeting with a probation officer;
- submit to drug or alcohol testing;
- no association with a known drug user;
- complete a treatment program;
- individual or group therapy;
- perform community service hours;
- you can't leave the county without permission;
- allow a police search without a warrant;
- comply with court orders, such as a stay-away from the victim.
What Happens if You Violate Your Probation?
Under the terms of PC 1203.2, if you are accused of violating your probation, you can expect the following consequences.
- you may be arrested. Suppose a police officer, probation officer, or parole officer has probable cause to believe you have violated the terms of your probation in any way. In that case, they have the right to arrest you on the spot—with or without a warrant;
- you will attend a probation violation hearing. At this hearing, the judge will hear evidence to determine if a violation occurred and, if so, what the consequences should be.
What Happens at a Probation Hearing?
A probation violation hearing occurs place when a probationer is ordered before the court for either of the following:
- committing a new crime, or
- violating a condition of their probation.
During the probation hearing, some crucial issues will be decided, such as the following:
- if the probationer is released or remains in custody, and
- if their probation is terminated or revoked.
Other issues include whether the probationer will serve a jail sentence or if they are placed back on probation with stricter conditions.
What If a Judge Decides You Violated Your Probation?
If the judge determines you did violate your probation at the hearing, they can choose to do any of the following:
- release you from custody. The judge may decide to let you off with a warning and allow your probation to continue;
- impose stricter terms of probation. The judge may impose additional conditions and restrictions on your probation, such as requiring drug/alcohol treatment or increasing the frequency of check-ins with your probation officer.
- revoke your probation and incarcerate you as defined under Penal Code 1203.2(c) PC. The judge may decide to revoke all or part of the remaining term of your probation, which would mean you must serve jail or prison time for the duration of that period.
As Someone on Probation, You Have Fewer Rights
It's important to note that while on probation, or if you attend a probation violation hearing, you will still have some of the same rights as a criminal defendant—including the right to an attorney, the right to call witnesses, and the right to defend yourself.
However, certain other rights will be waived while you're on probation because those rights are reserved for those who are presumed innocent—and you're already convicted of a crime.
For example, you can be arrested without a warrant. If it's in terms of your probation, your property may be searched without a warrant.
You don't have the right to a jury trial for probation violations. However, if you're suspected of violating your probation, your hearing will occur before a judge, and they will decide your fate.
Your guilt is decided based on a preponderance of the evidence. This is significant because, in a criminal trial, your guilt must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The preponderance of the evidence standard is less strict—to find you guilty, the judge must only be convinced that you're more than 50 percent likely to have committed the offense or the violation.
If you were accused of violating your probation, you could contact our law firm by phone or contact form to review the details and legal options. Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California.