At times, after a defendant has been convicted of a crime, instead of, or in addition to serving a jail term, the court may grant them probation or parole. These are sentencing measures that allow a person to minimize incarceration, or avoid incarceration altogether, so long as they do not break the terms of their probation. These terms often include conditions such as remaining within the bounds of a certain area, regular drug testing and monitored attendance for any court-assigned programs. These are all monitored by a court-appointed probation officer. In Delaware County, probation officers are assigned by the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Adult Probation Offices, with multiple locations throughout the county, including Media, Pennsylvania.
Delaware County Probation Violations
When a person is suspected of failing to adhere to the terms of their probation, their status as a probationer or parolee may be in danger. Failure to remain in line with the terms of one's probation can cause them to face increased probation time, or worse, incarceration. Defendants who are accused of probation violations are entitled to a brief, two-step hearing process. These hearings are officially known as Gagnon Hearings.
Gagnon I Hearings in Delaware County (Detainer)
The first hearing is sometimes called a "detainer" hearing. These hearings are held by a court-appointed hearing officer, who will make the final decision of this hearing as well. The purpose of these hearings is to determine whether there is sufficient "probable cause" for violation charges to be held against a defendant and also to determine whether or not a defendant should remain in the custody of the State. The probation officer is responsible for bringing forth evidence against the defendant. Defendants will be able to defend themselves at this hearing with their own evidence, although such a defense will be made much stronger with an experienced attorney's assistance.
Gagnon II Hearings in Delaware County (Violation of Probation/Parole)
The second, and final, hearing in the process is sometimes referred to as a Violation of Probation/Parole hearing; also known as a "Gagnon II hearing" or a VOP hearing. These hearings are meant to determine whether or not the terms or conditions of probation or parole have been violated. Hearings will be presided over by a judge, who will also make the final decision of the hearing as well. A prosecutor will also be there to present evidence against the defendant. While this may seem similar to a criminal hearing, there is one key difference that makes the stakes much higher: a person can be found in violation on the standard of "a preponderance of evidence" instead of the higher "beyond a reasonable doubt." A defendant will also be able to defend themselves with evidence at this stage as well.
Can a probation violation attorney help lift a detainer in Delaware County?
Lifting a detainer in Delaware County is not easy, but depending on the circumstances, may be possible. The position of the Delaware County Probation Department, as may be expected, will generally not help defendants facing alleged probation or parole violations in Media, 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 Media 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 Media, 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 Delaware County, Pennsylvania
The Delaware County Adult Probation Department has four locations. The main office is located in the Delaware County Courthouse, 201 W. Front Street, Media, PA 19063.
The Sharon Hill Probation Branch is located at the Emergency Services Training Center, Calcon Hook & Tribbett Avenue, Sharon Hill, PA 19079.
The Upper Darby Probation Branch is located at 6909 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, Upper Darby, PA 19082.
The Chester Probation Branch is located at 151 W. 5th Street, Chester, PA 19013.
Delaware County VOP Attorney | Media Violation of Probation Attorney
Violation of probation hearings can quickly take a turn for the worst. The low standard of evidence means that the State does not require an ample amount of evidence before punishing a defendant for a probation violation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help a probationer or parolee navigate these hearings, and work for a better outcome through an aggressive defense.
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 Media. 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 Delaware County Court, the judge, the Delaware 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 front lines 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.
If you or a loved one is accused of violating parole or probation in Media or Delaware County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.