Probation and Bail Violations

Probation Violations

Regardless of what type of probation you find yourself under (straight probation, deferred or suspended sentence) you are required keep the peace and be of good behavior.  Other conditions of probation may also apply such as completing drug and alcohol treatment or seeking counseling.  If you violate any of these conditions, you may be charged with a violation of probation.  You will be allowed a hearing on whether the conditions of probation were violated.  

Defendants facing a probation violation hearing have a lot going against them.  For one, the rules of evidence are relaxed so the State is allowed to bring in evidence it might not be able to enter at trial.  In addition, the State does not need to prove a violation “beyond a reasonable doubt” (the standard for a criminal conviction), rather the Judge must merely be “reasonably satisfied” that the terms of probation have been violated.

Another difficulty for defendants charged with a probation violation is that the condition “to keep the peace and be of good behavior” is ambiguous and open to interpretation.   For example, you are arrested for marijuana possession and are also charged with a violation of probation.  Even if the marijuana possession charges are dismissed, you may very likely be found to have violated probation.  Why? Because a judge can be “reasonably satisfied” that you were not of good behavior if you were even near drugs or someone who had drugs or involved in any incident that caused the police to be called.  It’s a tough standard and you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner.

If you are charged with a probation violation you will almost certainly be held in prison without bail.  Bail can be readdressed if we are successful at the probation violation hearing. You must also remember that the probation violation is a separate charge in addition to the underlying charges that brought about the probation violation.  In other words, in the example above, you will be charged with a probation violation and marijuana possession.

Bail Violations

Following an arrest, if you are charged with a non capital crime you are entitled to reasonable bail.  If you are released on personal recognizance or you are able to pay the required bail, you will be allowed to stay out of prison pending the resolution of your case.  While you are out on bail, you are again required “to keep the peace and be of good behavior”.  Similar to a probation violation (above), if you are arrested for a new crime while on bail you will be charged with the separate and distinct crime of violation of bail.  Subsequently, your bail will be revoked and you will be kept in prison following the resolution of your original charge, your new charge, and the bail violation.