Probation and parole are two alternatives to jail time for a person who was convicted of a crime. These alternatives are essentially freedom from incarceration, provided that the defendant remains within the bounds of the conditions set by the court. Common terms of probation may include residing at one permanent address known by the court, drug testing, attending court-mandated programs, and regular check-ins with a probation officer. In Chester County, a probation officer will be assigned to a defendant by the Probation & Parole Department of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas; the Court of Common Pleas being located in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Chester County Probation Violations
When a person has been accused of violating the terms of their probation, also known as a "VOP," they will be subjected to punishments from the court. Potential actions from the court can include increased probationary periods and placing a person into incarceration altogether. Defendants have a chance to defend themselves through a hearing process at the court.
Chester County Gagnon I Hearing (Detainer)
The first step in the hearing process is formally known as a Gagnon I Hearing, however, it is also sometimes referred to as a Detainer Hearing. These hearings are meant to determine two things: if the defendant is to remain under state custody, and if the probation officer has "probable cause" to bring a violation of probation charges against a person. The probation officer will be responsible for bringing a sufficient amount of evidence against the defendant. A hearing officer, rather than a judge, will be present to decide whether or not probable cause has been established. Defendants will have an opportunity to present their own supporting evidence.
Chester County Gagnon II Hearing (Violation of Probation/Parole)
The second and final hearing in the probation violation process is known as a Gagnon II Hearing, or a Violation of Probation/Parole Hearing. A judge will be present for this hearing to adjudicate the matter and make the final decision. In addition, a prosecutor will be presenting evidence against the defendant. The standard of "a preponderance of evidence" instead of "beyond a reasonable doubt" will be used. This means that a prosecutor has a much lower hurdle to clear in order to secure the judge's decision. Defendants will be able to bring their own supporting evidence into the arguments during this phase as well.
Can a probation violation attorney help lift a detainer in Chester County?
Lifting a detainer in Chester County is not easy, but depending on the circumstances, may be possible. The position of the Chester County Probation Department, as may be expected, will generally not help defendants facing alleged probation violations in West Chester, PA. For example, the defendant's probation officer will almost always recommend that the detainer remain "in place" at the Gagnon I hearing pending the Gagnon II VOP hearing; which would generally take place before the defendant's "back" judge (the judge who sentenced the defendant).
If the proper steps are taken and an aggressive defense is mounted, however, the likelihood of getting the detainer lifted at the detainer hearing in West Chester will be greatly increased. In fact, in limited instances, it may even be possible to get the "back" judge to order lifting the detainer in advance of the detainer hearing itself - if the judge approves that the detainer be lifted in advance of the Gagnon I hearing in West Chester, the question of whether the detainer would otherwise remain in place will not be at issue at the time of the hearing itself.
Probation in Chester County, Pennsylvania
The Chester County Probation & Parole Department is located at 201 Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382.
Chester County VOP Attorney | West Chester Violation of Probation Attorney
Allegations of violations of probation or parole can turn an already delicate situation into a dire one. Because of the lower evidence standard, the court does not require nearly as much evidence to prove that a person has violated their probation as they would to convict a person of a crime. In addition, the penalties for these violations can further reduce a person's freedoms. Legal representation from an aggressive and diligent criminal defense attorney is of utmost importance.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento worked as a probation officer while attending Temple University's Beasley School of Law at night, and he knows which defense strategies will work best when a client is facing a violation of probation or parole in West Chester. Whether the violation is due to a new arrest, positive drug screen, failure to report, or any other factor, Joseph Lento knows how to approach the Chester County Court, the judge, the Chester County Prosecutor's Office, and the probation officer, and he is not satisfied until he gets his clients the best possible result. Joseph's experience both behind the scenes and on the frontlines allows him to understand a client's probation violation from all angles and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client.