When a person is convicted of a crime, they are sometimes granted probation or parole, in place of incarceration, or continued incarceration. Probation and parole are programs that involve a defendant having certain restrictions imposed on them by the county, and having to report in with a county-appointed probation officer. The officer will report progress and other things to the county, along with any instances of a defendant failing to adhere to the terms of their probation. Terms of probation can include drug and alcohol testing, participating in certain rehabilitation programs, or staying within the bounds of a certain area. The Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, manages probation and parole within its Adult Probation & Parole Department. The Department handles several probation issues including rehabilitation and job readiness programs.
Probation & Parole Violations in Lehigh County
A violation of a person's parole or probation terms will be taken very serious by Lehigh County's Court. The penalties for probation violations can range from heavier restrictions to an increased parole sentence to possible incarceration. Defendants are entitled to a brief hearing process regarding probation and parole violations, however, these hearings do not always offer the same rights to a person as a criminal proceeding. The hearings will proceed in a two-round process.
Lehigh County Gagnon I Hearings (Detainer Hearings)
A Gagnon I Hearing, sometimes referred to as a detainer hearing, is the first step in the probation violation process. The purpose of this hearing is normally to determine two things: whether or not a defendant should remain detained, and whether or not "probable cause" exists to determine if a defendant had violated their probation. These hearings are often held in front of a hearing officer rather than a judge, in addition, it is up to the probation officer to show evidence for probable cause. At this stage, defendants may retain an attorney for their own defense.
Lehigh County Gagnon II Hearings (Violation of Probation/Parole)
The second stage in the processes is a Gagnon II Hearing, or a Violation of Probation/Parole Hearing; also known as a VOP hearing. These hearings determine whether or not a defendant has violated their probation or parole. They are held in front of a judge, who will be the decision maker in these hearings. Violations of probation may seem like crimes, but they are actually post-conviction matters, which means a defendant does not have the right to being found guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Instead, the much lower standard of "a preponderance of evidence" will be used. Again, defendants are entitled to attorney representation at these VOP hearings.
Can a probation violation attorney help lift a detainer in Lehigh County?
Lifting a detainer in Lehigh County is not easy, but depending on the circumstances, may be possible. The position of the Lehigh County Probation Department, as may be expected, will generally not help defendants facing alleged probation or parole violations in Allentown, 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 Allentown 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 Allentown, 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 Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
The Lehigh County Adult Probation Department is located at 455 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101.
Lehigh County VOP Attorney | Allentown Violation of Probation Attorney
Allegations of probation violations can be stressful. A person's future and freedom hang in the balance during these hearings. For this reason, it is critical to enlist the services of an attorney to help present the strongest possible defense in court.
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 Allentown. 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 Lehigh County Court, the judge, the Lehigh 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 facing allegations of probation or parole violations in Allentown or Lehigh County, PA, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.