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District Court-Probation Violation Hearings

At one point you were brought into District Court for a criminal matter. Either through a plea agreement with the Commonwealth or a guilty verdict you were placed on probation. Your probation includes conditions that have to be followed during the probation term. Now you have received a Notice of Probation Violation and Hearing. What does this mean?

A Notice of Probation Violation and Hearing can be sent if a condition of probation was violated. Depending on the seriousness of the violation the hearing’s ultimate outcome can be more severe. Some of the more serious violations include being charged with a new crime or repeatedly violating a term of probation.  The Notice of Probation Violation and Hearing will note which condition of your probation the probation department is alleging you violated. The Notice will also include the date, time, and hearing location. In most circumstances your hearing will occur within 30 days of the Notice date.

The Probation Violation Hearing

There are two main parts to a probation violation hearing. The court must first determine if a condition of probation was in fact violated. The probation department must show through a preponderance of evidence that a condition of violation occurred. Preponderance of evidence is similar to more likely than not. This is a lower and easier standard for the probation department to satisfy when compared to a standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the court determines a violation did in fact occur, the court then must determine appropriate punishment. Both your attorney and the probation officer will have opportunity to argue what the proper punishment should be. Some of the more common hearing outcomes include: no additional punishment and just re-probating the violator; extension of the probation term; additional probation terms being included; and, possible incarceration. Often your attorney and the probation department will discuss the violation prior to the hearing. Your attorney and probation may come to an agreement concerning what the new punishment should be and will bring this recommendation before the judge. However, even though your attorney and probation may make a joint recommendation to the judge, the ultimate decider of what the punishment will be is the judge. In most circumstances, the judge will go along with the joint recommendation, but is not obligated to.

Probation Violation Punishment

There are several items in which the judge is supposed to consider when determining punishment. These items include: the recommendation of the probation department; recommendation of your attorney; recommendation of the District Attorney; circumstances of the crime in which you are on probation for; nature of the probation violation; public safety; number of previous probation violations; and, mitigating factors.

After considering these factors, the judge will decide the proper punishment. Once again, this normally will be whether to continue your probation, terminate your probation, modify your probation with additional terms, or outright revoke your probation. Revocation of your probation could have the harshest effect on your freedom. If you are on probation and have a suspended sentence concerning your previous criminal matter, upon revocation the judge MUST impose the suspended sentence. If there was no suspended sentence, then the judge, upon revoking your probation, can impose any sentence up to the maximum incarceration stated in the offense’s criminal statute.

A revocation can also have a big impact on you if you previously received a continued without a finding (CWAF) disposition concerning the underlying criminal matter. Upon revocation, the court can revoke the continuance, enter a guilty finding, and then impose a sentence. Additionally, you would now have a criminal conviction on your record.

Lake Shore Legal

If you have received a Notice of Probation Violation and Hearing call Lake Shore Legal today. Our attorneys can review the circumstances of your matter and then strategize to offer you a defense to the violation itself or a potential alternative to incarceration in the event you are found to have violated your probation conditions. Our attorneys can work with the District Court and probation department to address the nature of your violation, seek drug or alcohol treatment, seek mental health counseling, or curing any other administrative violation.

Contact Lake Shore Legal today and allow our attorneys to assist you during this critical point in your criminal matter. (508) 943-7800; info@lakeshorelegalsolutions.com

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