We handle probation violation cases in Los Angeles, Glendale, Pasadena, Van Nuys, El Monte, San Fernando. Probation means that you have been conditionally released and ordered to comply with certain terms and conditions imposed by the court when you were sentenced. While on probation, you must comply with all those terms and conditions of probation. For instance, in a DUI case, you may be required to pay a fine, to complete an alcohol program, to finish certain hours of community labor, or to serve jail time as ordered by the court. The terms of probation are clearly stated by the judge in open court. Your attorney must also go over those terms with you and make sure that you understand them.
It is not uncommon for people who are convicted for the first time of a criminal offense to misunderstand what probation means and what they are supposed to do upon their conviction of a criminal offense. Attorneys who don't explain the terms of probation to their clients, or lawyers who agree to stringent terms of probation for their clients, basically set up their own clients for probation violation.
Types of Probation:
Los Angeles county Criminal Courts may impose either summary or formal probation depending on the severity and degree of the crime.
In California misdemeanor cases, generally one is placed on summary probation that may last from one year to three years. By being placed on summary probation, you are promising that you will not commit any new offenses and that you will do what the court tells you to do. If you do your homework, and if you stay clean for the period indicated, your summary probation will automatically terminate and you don't have to go to court and ask the court to end your probation.
Summary probation is obviously the preferred form of probation favored by everyone who is facing a criminal charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney should talk to the judge so that the court may fashion probationary terms that are easy to comply with. Summary probation is less stringent and does not require reporting to a probation officer. It generally means that you will comply with all terms and conditions that were set forth in your sentence and that you would not commit any new criminal offenses while on summary probation.
For minor misdemeanor offenses such as shoplifting, DUI, most traffic offenses, disturbing the peace, simple domestic violence charges, and simple assault and battery cases, the defendant is generally placed on summary probation. If you had a more serious case and you ended up being placed on summary probation, your lawyer probably did a good job for you.
If you have an aggressive lawyer, he may be able to reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor so that you only get summary probation. you probably don't want to go through the hassle of formal probation and reporting to a probation officer. So, insist that you want summary probation and a misdemeanor. If the circumstances of your case allow it, your criminal attorney should fight to get summary porbation.
In Felony matters, the conviction results in formal probation ranging from three to five years. Felony probation usually requires monthly reporting to a probation office, payment of monthly probation fees, periodic reports by the probation office to the judge, random drug testing, random search of your home or vehicle and other terms and conditions.
Sometimes, in felony matters, even if you are convicted of a felony offense, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecution or the judge and get you an informal non-reporting felony probation. This is an in-between form of probation whereby you are on felony probation but you don't have to report to the probation department every month.
Life will be easier for you if you don't have to deal with regular reporting for 3 to 5 years. Also, you may not have to pay the probation fees generally imposed for supervision costs. That will save you thousands of dollars. With informal non-reporting felony probation, you may still be subject to search and seizure condition. Therefore, you must still subject your property, home, or person to search by enforcement officers should they choose to do a search. You may also be subject to the 10 year ban on possession of weapons and some additional terms of probation. All in all though, you would want an informal probation vs. a full blown formal probation. Ask your attorney to get you informal probation if you are ready to plead to a felony offense.
VIOLATION OF PROBATION:
Regardless of what type of probation you are on, you could violate your probation for any or all of the following reasons:
1. Getting arrested for a new offense while on probation.
2. Failure to pay your fines as promised, or failure to perform or complete community service as instructed by the judge.
3. Failure to appear in court to show progress you made on your probation.
4. Failure to submit paperwork to court to indicate you have complied with all orders of the court.
5. In Felony matters, failure to report to probation officer as scheduled and in a timely fashion.
6. In Felony matters, failure to pay probation fees to the probation department.
7. In Felony matters, failure to summit to drug test which is sometimes randomly requested by the probation officer.
8. In Felony matters, failure to submit to search and seizure by police officers of your home or vehicle.
CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLATION OF PROBATION:
It is important that you hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to defend you if you have been charged with probation violation. Obviously you have much more at stake if you were on felony probation. Our law firm has seen numerous situations where the probationer violated his probation for failure to finish a certain number of days of community labor, or by falling behind on probation fee payments. On many occasions, the defendant has gone to court alone trying to explain his situation or give an excuse for non-compliance, only to find out that he is going to be arrested on the spot.
Judges differ from county to county in how they treat probation violations. Some judges are rigid and tough. They don't want to hear any excuses and next thing you know, you are being handcuffed by the bailiff to be taken to county jail. Some judges are more reasonable and may consider excuses based on emergency situations. But what it ultimately comes down to is whether you have "substantially" complied with the terms of your probation. If you have, your odds in getting a second chance to comply are much higher.
POSSIBILITY OF DOING JAIL TIME:
Sometimes, a defendant doesn't understand why he is told that he will do two years in state prison for violating his probation, when he only failed to report to probation department for two months. This could be because your guilty plea included an "execution of sentence suspended" term. So, if at the time of your sentence, the judge actually sentenced you to do a minimum of two years in state prison for any violation, but suspended the execution of that sentence and granted you probation, then the judge could in fact find that the two-year term must be imposed.
PROBATION VIOLATION HEARINGS:
If you have been charged with probation violation, you could face time in jail or other consequences depending on the nature of the new crime committed, the crime for which you were placed on probation, and the nature of your violation.
It is definitely recommended that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested for a new crime while on probation, or if you have not compiled with a term of probation and you are scheduled to see the judge. There is a risk involved in going to court knowing that you have violated probation. The judge could have you arrested in court. This could cause serious problems and loss of your liberty or job. Probation violation should be handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney.