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Understanding the consequences of a probation violation

Receiving a sentence of probation after your conviction means you were able to convince the court that you were not a risk to public safety. Perhaps this was your first offense, or the circumstances of the offense were not serious. Your sentence probably brought great relief to you and your family. Probation means you will serve your sentence under supervision but not in jail.

However, now you may be feeling the stress of that supervision. You understand that violating the terms of your probation can bring serious trouble, but do you know what to expect if that should happen?

The terms of your probation

Your probation came with specific terms. The judge may have read those terms to you in court, and your lawyer may have explained them. The terms of your probation are your end of the bargain. You agree to comply with the rules, and the judge does not send you to jail. If you break your end of the deal, you risk serving the rest of your sentence behind bars. While yours may be different, some common terms of probation include the following:

  • Meeting with your probation officer at specified times
  • Paying fines or paying restitution to any victims involved in the incident for which the court convicted you
  • Associating with people who have criminal records
  • Visiting places with known criminal elements
  • Leaving New Jersey without permission from your probation officer
  • Possessing or consuming drugs or alcohol

Understandably, if police arrest you while you are on probation, the court will likely consider that a violation of your terms.

What happens next?

Your probation officer is usually the one who decides if the circumstances of your violation warrant a hearing before a judge. Your P.O. may simply issue a warning, or you may find yourself back in court. After the judge hears the details of your violation, you face any of the following consequences or others:

  • Probation extension
  • Community service
  • More restrictions to your probation terms
  • Jail for a brief time
  • Revocation of your probation and incarceration for the remainder of your sentence

Even with a conviction on your record, you have rights when you face a hearing for violating your probation. An attorney can evaluate the situation and see if any special circumstances existed that caused you to break your terms. With legal counsel, you may be able to present evidence in your favor or witnesses who can attest to your defense.

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