Last updated on December 15, 2015

Do I Have A Right To An Attorney At A Probation Revocation Hearing?

You have the right to an attorney at any hearing. You can always hire your own attorney and you would also have the right to have a court appointed attorney if the judge is considering putting you in jail. You always have the right to have your own attorney be there and do the talking for you.

What is the Importance of Retaining An Attorney to Defend a Probation Violation?

In my opinion, a violation of probation is very, very dangerous. That doesn’t mean that every time somebody has a violation, they go to jail, but every violation, you could potentially go to jail and you are at more risk to go to jail than you were originally sentenced because you’ve done something else wrong. It’s very important for the person to be keenly aware of the judge they have, the court they’re in, the probation officer’s attitude and to be able to properly just how serious that violation itself is.

That’s where the experience of a lawyer can really make a big difference. An attorney is also useful in situations where the client is guilty, trying to figure out how best to minimize damages and how best to present the client so that the judge sees that they basically are doing well or are ready to do well and ready turn things around, and convince them that jail is not necessary.

Every case is different, every defendant is different, every probation is different, but unless you have nothing to lose, then you want to take violations of probation very seriously, because the courts take them very seriously.

A lot of times, somebody might have a first offense probation violation. It’s the first violation of probation. Even if the judge wants to keep on probation, they might just give them seven days in the county jail as a sanction and then continue the probation. Now for some people, they don’t care really. They’ll go do their seven days, but for a lot of other people, they don’t realize that the day they show up for that violation of probation, if they plead guilty and the judge wants to put them in jail, that’s the day they go to jail right then and there for seven days.

A lot of people will lose their job if they just suddenly go to jail or they have nobody to take care of their kids or nobody to watch their pets. There are all kinds of repercussions if things do happen to go badly. You don’t get to wander in there and feel out the situation and ask the judge to tell you what they’re going to do. You plead guilty or you have a hearing and then the judge sentences you. There’s not a lot of time in between. This stuff happens very quickly.

A lot of people wait to call us after something goes wrong. I’ve had a number of girlfriends and boyfriends and parents over the years call me and say that their loved one has just been sentenced to 30, 60, or 90 days in jail on a violation of probation, and can I help them? At that point, it’s too late. The bell has already rung. The time to deal with it is right at beginning.

The other thing that people don’t think a lot about is you may have already had the first violation and maybe the judge gave you a break and continued probation. Now you’re there on a second violation and maybe you don’t think it’s that serious, but the judge will always give more punishment on a second violation. It’s much more common that they’ll give jail time as well. That’s really where I do believe it’s best for them to have the assistance of somebody who really knows what they’re doing and that has been through this dozens of times before.

Judges almost feel like it’s maybe a slap in the face to them if you continually violate your probation when they give you chances. Some will say it on the record is that I gave you a chance and now you basically spit in my face and won’t do what I told you and what you promised you would do. Some of them get very angry about it. Others are not that intense, but that’s the point of having to know your judge and your court, and what they’re looking at.

A lot of times people show up and they think that, “All right, the only thing I did was I was three hours late for one breath test and it’s not that big of a deal.” Then when they get there, they see the report from the probation officer that says, “They were three hours late for this test. They haven’t completed their community service. They haven’t paid their fines and costs. They haven’t done their counseling yet that they were ordered to do.” This report looks bad and it looks like you’ve got a bad attitude and you don’t care.

Things can change quickly, and that’s what people have to be ready for. Obviously I’m not trying to scare every person into calling me, but these are the things I’ve seen over the years where people have made mistakes by taking the situation too lightly. Sometimes things go well and they go easy. Other times it’s much more complicated than you expected and you just won’t know until you get there.

Is there Anything Else that You Would Like to Clarify Regarding Probation Violations?

If you do get a probation violation, don’t ignore it. Don’t get too scared and not want to deal with it because it will never go away. It will always sit in the computer and eventually there will be a warrant for your arrest and eventually you’ll get picked up. You get a lot more respect from the court when you show up and you face it and deal with it. Then you do win. They pick you up two years later at a red light violation or something and bring you in handcuffs as somebody who was trying to run away from the problem. Even though it’s a scary situation, it is best to face it and deal with as quickly as possible.

Are People Ever Reluctant In Dealing with Probation Violations?

It’s common because there’s so many people on probation and so many different probation violations but most people will go to court and deal with it right away. People who really believe that they’re going to jail and just don’t want to deal with that, a lot of times will run but usually it results in a worse punishment down the road. It’s generally best to deal with it.

For more information on Hiring An Attorney for Probation Violation, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (248) 451-2200 today.

Posted in: Criminal Defense
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