Often, individuals violate the terms of their probation or parole without realizing it. You may fail to appear in court at a scheduled time, inadvertently miss a scheduled meeting with your probation officer, or fail to notify the court of an address change. In addition, violating your probation or parole is a serious offense that can often lead to jail time and other serious consequences. As a result, you need a lawyer on your side experienced in probation and parole violation defense.
Lawyer for Probation Violation
I am one of the most experienced probation violation lawyers in Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
Types of Probation and Parole Violations
Probation officers classify a violation as either a technical violation or a direct violation. The probation department will charge an offender with a technical offense when they violate one or more of their probation or parole regulations.
In most cases, an offender commits a direct violation of probation or parole when charged or convicted of a new criminal charge.
Consequences of a Probation or Parole Violation
Both technical and direct violations can result in the court revoking your probation or parole. The judge assigned to your probation or parole violation hearing is sometimes called your “back judge.” Also, the back judge is usually the sentencing judge on the original charges.
Individuals subject to parole revocation may be required to serve the balance of their sentence in prison. However, individuals subject to revocation of their probation can be re-sentenced to jail, extended probation, or both. This type of disposition is considered a split sentence.
Generally, a person on probation or parole who commits a technical or substantive violation must notify their probation officer within 72 hours. I can provide emergency legal advice if your probation officer has advised you to turn yourself in for a probation or parole violation.
Ways to Violate Probation
There are many ways an individual can violate the terms of their probation or parole, even without intending to do so. The following are some of the most common ways Pennsylvania probation and parole violations may occur:
- Failing to appear in court at a scheduled date and time
- Failing to complete court-ordered treatment programs
- Failing a drug test
- Failing to report to your probation officer
- Failing to pay court costs, fines, and restitution
- Changing your address without approval from the probation department
- Possessing firearms, ammunition, or other weapons
Other Ways You Can Violate Your Probation or Parole
- Failing to complete court-ordered community service
- Leaving Pennsylvania without permission from your probation officer
- Failing to maintain employment
- Consuming, possessing, or selling a controlled substance
- Consuming alcoholic beverages
- Receiving new criminal charges
Penalties for Violating Probation or Parole
A judge may impose different punishments on individuals guilty of violating their probation or parole. The court will base the probation or parole violation sentence on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines, the seriousness of the violation, and your probation history. Some of the penalties a judge could impose include the following:
- Jail time
- Community service
- Court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment
- Court-ordered mental health treatment
- Extended probation
- Revocation of probation
- Revocation of parole
- Additional conditions to your probation or parole
I can determine what penalties you may face if the court schedules you for a probation or parole violation.
Probation Violation 1st Offense PA
In almost all cases, a judge will not sentence an offender with a first offense probation violation to jail. Most first-offense probation violations involve repeated failed drug tests, absconding probation supervision, failing to participate in drug or psychological treatment, or arrest for a minor offense. However, the probation judge will likely impose a prison sentence on offenders charged with a serious felony.
Most first-time probation violators remain good candidates for probation supervision despite the initial probation infraction. I can help develop the most persuasive mitigating evidence and make the strongest argument against a jail sentence at your violation hearing.
PA Probation Detainer Hearing
The probation and parole department will often request that you be held in custody if it determines that probable cause exists to believe that you have violated the conditions of your probation or parole.
This determination is often made at an initial proceeding known as a preliminary hearing or more formally referred to as a Gagnon I Hearing. If probable cause is established by the probation and parole department at the hearing, the presiding judge will often order that the offender be held in custody until the probation or parole violation hearing is held.
How Do I Remove a Probation or Parole Detainer?
I can conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violation if you are held in custody after a Gagnon I Hearing. In certain cases, I will file a petition with the court requesting that the probation or parole detainer be lifted.
In most counties, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the probation or parole detainer should be lifted. At the time of the hearing, I can present mitigating evidence and legal argument in favor of your release on bail pending the resolution of the probation or parole violation hearing.
What Happens at a Probation Violation Hearing?
The probation of violation hearing is also called a Gagnon II Hearing. The prosecutor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the offender violated the conditions of their probation. The preponderance of evidence standard is a low burden of proof. It only requires that the prosecutor prove that it is more likely than not that the offender violated their probation.
Probation Court Hearing
In most VOP hearings, the district attorney will allege that the probationer has violated the probation rules or has committed a new crime. At the probation violation hearing, a Common Pleas court judge decides whether the commonwealth has met its burden of proof that the probationer has violated probation.
If the prosecutor satisfies this burden, the judge will decide whether to revoke the Defendant’s probation. Finally, the court will determine the punishment for the probation violation. Importantly, the Defendant has the right to the assistance of a lawyer and the right to present evidence to rebut the district attorney’s allegations.
How to Beat a Probation Violation
During the violation hearing, often referred to as a Gagnon II hearing, the Commonwealth must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you violated your probation or parole.
In some cases, I will challenge the evidence presented by the probation or parole officer through the aggressive cross-examination of Commonwealth witnesses and the introduction of exculpatory and mitigating evidence on behalf of the alleged offender.
In other cases, I have established to the court that the VOP charge is minor and does not warrant revocation of probation or parole or further penalties.
It is essential to provide the court with all available mitigating information to convince the judge to allow you to remain in the community. Persuasive mitigating evidence can include:
- Proof of successful drug and alcohol treatment
- Full participation in psychological counsel
- Undue hardship of incarceration on the offender’s family
- Proof of steady employment by the offender
- Demonstrating that continued probation will assist in the offender’s rehabilitation
Some or all of these mitigating factors can make the difference between remaining on probation or going to jail.
Can an Attorney Negotiate a Probation Violation?
Yes, especially in cases where the probation department can prove that the offender violated probation or parole. The Defendant’s attorney and the probation officer resolve the majority of probation and parole violations through negotiated agreements.
In most cases, I can negotiate with the probation officer for a favorable probation violation agreement instead of conducting a contested POV hearing.
During the negotiation process, I provide the probation officer with mitigating information about the Defendant’s background and reach an agreement for continued probation, intermediate punishment, or a significantly reduced jail sentence.
Can a Lawyer Help with Probation Violation?
Yes. I have spent over a decade working with county and state probation and parole departments, county prosecutors and the courts. In addition, I have extensive experience in successfully resolving probation or parole violation matters through direct negotiations with local probation department officers and county prosecutors. I will review the facts of your case to determine the most effective legal strategy to use to resolve your probation or parole violation charge.
Can You Get Off Probation Early?
Yes, in some cases. Early probation termination generally occurs administratively or through filing a motion for termination of probation. Furthermore, administrative termination of probation usually occurs if, at the time of sentencing, the judge orders that the probation may end before the conclusion of the probationary sentence.
To be eligible for early administrative termination of probation, the judge will usually require that the Defendant avoid any violations and the offender pays all court costs and fines in full.
The probation department will close the case if the Defendant meets all of the conditions. Also, administrative probation termination can take place without a court hearing.
Petition for Early Termination of Probation
A motion to terminate probation can be filed when a Defendant is within one to two years of the completion of their probation sentence. In most counties, the court will schedule a hearing on the motion within three to four months of the filing date.
Notably, the probation judge will be more likely to grant early probation termination under the following circumstances:
- You have paid off all of your court costs and fines
- You have a positive supervision history
- Your probation officer does not object to closing out your probation case
- The continued probation supervision adversely affects your employment, travel, or financial situation
As an experienced lawyer for early termination of probation, I can help you with the process of getting off probation early by filing a Petition to Terminate Supervision. Contact me for a free consultation to discuss ways to end your probation or parole supervision.
How Long Does Early Termination of Probation Take?
It depends. The probation and parole department will close out your probation case within approximately two months of your early termination date, if not sooner. If a judge grants early termination of probation after a probation termination hearing, the case is closed on the date of the hearing.
Probation Violation Attorney
Have you been charged with a probation or parole violation in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, or the nearby Pennsylvania Counties? Your first question is: How do I find an experienced probation violation attorney near me?
Act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against probation violation charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.